Software-defined wide-area network, or SD-WAN, is a new approach to network connectivity and one that has the potential to complement the exponential growth happening in the network industry. Earlier technologies were designed to operate in a head office/branch office setup and could not be easily scaled to a cloud-centric environment. Since most large businesses today use a SaaS/IaaS model for accessing applications, it became imperative to have new network technology that would support this environment. This is how SD-WAN shot into prominence.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN is a networking technology that decouples networking hardware from its control mechanism. In other words, it is a virtual WAN architecture that allows users to leverage all types of transportation services and protocols like MPLS, VPNs, and more.
The core aspect of SD-WAN is a control mechanism that intelligently directs traffic across the WAN to improve the overall application speed and performance. It handles all traffic based on priority and according to the security requirements of the business.
In a traditional setup, the control is spread across all devices and routers to direct traffic based on IP addresses. But in SD-WAN, traffic is routed intelligently after taking into account many parameters instead of just IP addresses.
Benefits of SD-WAN
A software-driven approach to routing offers a ton of advantages. Some of the prominent ones are:
- Highly scalable.
- Centralized configuration improves security capabilities and application performance.
- Reduced maintenance costs.
- Helps businesses to respond better to dynamic changes.
- Configurations and policies can be programmed once and sent to all devices and locations. There is no need to program each device manually through a CLI.
- Works well across on-premises and cloud applications.
- Brings down the possibility of human errors and ensures that policies are consistent across the entire network.
- Robust network.
- Improved application performance.
- Ensures high availability of all critical applications.
- Predictable SLAs.
- Supports the real-time application of policies.
- Scores high on usability as users can control the different devices through a single dashboard.
- Offers detailed information for business analytics and forecasting.
- Extends WAN to the public cloud seamlessly.
Now that you have a good understanding of SD-WAN and the benefits it offers, do you think it’s the future of networking? Will it shape future developments?
Is SD-WAN the future?
SD-WAN has made rapid strides since its arrival, thereby making it one of the most exciting and most-watched technology in the network world. In fact, International Data Corp. estimates that the SD-WAN market will see a compound annual growth rate of 30.8 percent from 2018 to 2023 and the value of this market will reach $5.25 billion by 2023.
It is undoubtedly a part of the future, and here are some reasons why.
Migration to the cloud
The very structure of SD-WAN makes it conducive for cloud networking. In fact, as more companies look to tap into the benefits of cloud storage, SaaS, and IaaS, SD-WAN will become an integral part of their networks. Going forward, control and data planes will also move to the cloud to improve software performance and in such a situation, SD-WAN will be the most ideal technology to steer traffic across different transport types. In all, this will give greater flexibility than ever before to organizations.
SD-WAN is also highly conducive for a multicloud strategy and deployment. This can be a great asset for companies looking to jump on the cloud bandwagon or to further their cloud aspirations.
Automation has become the norm when it comes to network troubleshooting and maintenance. Network administrators and companies are looking for hassle-free solutions that monitor different aspects of the network and report problems at the first sign. Some solutions even proactively monitor metrics and alert when they fall below or above the established threshold limits.
At the heart of it, is automation and simplified management, both of which are supported by SD-WAN. And these are also why this technology reduces maintenance costs significantly.
Fast and flexible
When compared to traditional networking technologies, SD-WAN is faster and more flexible. This is because the traditional system is outdated and is not the most ideal choice for today’s cloud environment. They were based on rigid architectures that did not always scale well for data center applications.
SD-WAN, on the other hand, uses a software-based system for routing traffic across connections, so it can find the most optimal connection seamlessly for every transfer. Also, it reduces jitter and even fixes problems with dropped packets and all this makes the connections significantly faster and more reliable.
Supports multiple applications
The design of SD-WAN makes it easy to support multiple network-intense applications like voice and video conferencing, live streaming, and cloud-based applications. It even gives the option to prioritize traffic based on your organization’s requirements and business policies.
Besides applications, SD-WAN also supports different connections such as broadband, LTE, and MPLS. Though there have been many debates about SD-WAN taking over the more traditional networks, the reality is SD-WAN will play a complementary role to support these traditional connections and at the same time, give organizations the speed and flexibility needed to accelerate performance.
Assessing and managing the performance of individuals and groups have become a central part of today’s efficiency and business criticality. SD-WAN perfectly supports this need by providing greater granularity of data. In other words, it handles the data flow in such a way so as to meet the metrics of different situations and applications.
SD-WAN as a service
SD-WAN-as-a-service is catching the attention of many organizations as it becomes easy to manage circuits, their statuses, and routing protocols remotely. It also enables IT administrators to create policies based on data flows, thanks to its architecture that is conducive for such a service. In the process, it even opens up new possibilities for the future.
Overall, SD-WAN is a transport-agnostic technology that uses software to route connections to devices. It is highly flexible for cloud and hybrid environments, scalable, cost-effective, and even simplifies complex networks easily. As a result, organizations can reap the benefits that come with improved application performance, redundancy, and efficiency. Due to these reasons, SD-WAN is an integral part of today’s computer networks and undoubtedly, it will play a significant role in the future too.
But as things stand today, it will not be the only technology powering the future networks because companies have made significant investments in earlier technologies like MPLS. So, SD-WAN will be used widely, but it won’t be the only technology. Rather, it will be combined with existing technology and infrastructure to boost performance and productivity.
Featured image: Shutterstock