If you have ever considered expanding your business and improving your network infrastructure, chances are you have heard about SD-WAN. It is, for a good reason, considered the future of networking because of its reliability, cost, and efficiency. But, what exactly is SD-WAN and how does it help achieve such good results? In the article below, we’ll go into details about SD-WAN basics and bring the whole topic a step closer to you.
What Is SD-WAN?
Software-defined wide area network, also known as SD-WAN, is one of the newest achievements in the area of WAN. SD-WAN can be incorporated into a company as a virtual overlay to the current WAN connection that the company has, which nowadays usually relies on MPLS.
The main idea behind SD-WAN is to connect all of your data centers and branches, optimize network and performance, but at the same time reduce the costs, to about 30% of what they are when using only MPLS.
Since SD-WAN is software-based, the process of setting it up takes little time and effort and it can help you achieve both OPEX and CAPEX savings of almost 90% in several months. What is best, you usually do not even need to have an experienced IT technician to do it when you can rely on managed SD-WAN, which we will talk more about later.
How does SD-WAN work?
Modern companies today need to have a large number of business applications, desktops, video conferencing platforms, VoIP, CRM and ERP systems, and all of them put a high strain on the network infrastructure. Many of them still rely on wide area networks to support these needs, but there is one critical problem. Most of these applications are very bandwidth-hungry which is not always easy to maintain. Therefore, when their performance slows down for even a short period, employees struggle to maintain productivity.
The traditional solution to this problem was naturally to get more power, that is, to improve network bandwidth. However, this solution is not at all cost-efficient, and the same problem like the one above happens again, as it does not change the priority for the critical applications. What’s more, an increasing number of applications are now located in public and private clouds, which the traditional solution also does not address.
The genius of SD-WAN, therefore, is that it provides enterprises with a hybrid WAN infrastructure that brings together MPLS, broadband, and mobile paths into one dynamic virtualized path that can easily adapt to volatile network conditions. This system also prioritizes business-critical applications and makes sure that the necessary bandwidth for their functioning is always allocated so that work is never delayed and performance is always at its peak.
Main Features of SD-WAN
The perfect SD-WAN is difficult to achieve, but with the right knowledge, you can always get the best out of your setup. Below you will find a list of some of the most important features that you should explore in order to maximize the benefits of your SD-WAN transition.
Prioritization within SD-WAN means that certain applications that are most important for business, will always have bandwidth priority and will always have the necessary resources to function at their best. You can set these priorities manually, but it can also be an automated process. An SD-WAN solution can automatically set priorities based on bandwidth requirements, user access, IP addresses, and more.
Usually, in order to establish a connection, data needs to travel several different points in the network and this can often cause delays. One important feature is that SD-WAN automatically determines the best and most efficient path to travel from one point in the network to the other, and eliminates many potential risks.
Minimal Packet Loss
By automatically sending data through the most reliable paths, problems such as packet loss are minimized because of reliable packet delivery. A system like this considers latency and bandwidth to make sure that the data will not be compromised. Because of that, SD-WAN always gives crucial applications access to low-latency paths without your interference.
Intuitive User Interface
Many SD-WAN solutions feature an intuitive user interface which makes it easier for users who are inexperienced to navigate and manage the setup. Users can have an insight into charts and other real-time information without the need of an IT expert to read all the data and decide which steps to take to optimize the processes.
Outage Detection and Correction
Interruptions can often have a very negative impact on work efficiency especially when you need to start the whole system once again. Most SD-WAN technologies have the ability to detect outages and instantly take measures to resume connections and minimize impact.
Benefits of SD-WAN
More and more both big and small businesses are implementing SD-WAN and reaping numerous financial and technical benefits. Let’s go over some of the most important ones.
Traditional MPLS connections are notorious for the expensive contracts that they entail and long provisioning periods. SD-WAN solution lowers costs for enterprises by simplifying management. Organizations can efficiently leverage multiple network connections without worrying about expensive maintenance.
SD-WAN improves security by creating a segmented network which minimizes effects of a potential breach and also encrypting WAN traffic. Also, because SD-WAN offers improved visibility to IT technicians, they can more promptly detect potential attacks and threats.
SD-WAN technology utilizes the internet to create safe and high-speed connections. Because of this SaaS and other cloud-based apps are better optimized and more cost-efficient.
Internet uplinks usually do not offer very reliable packet delivery. For that reasons, many businesses choose to get multiple internet links from several providers to maintain the popular four nines, or 99.99% availability of data in case of a link failure.
Is SD-WAN the Right Solution for Your Organization?
So, we have covered most basics, features, and information about SD-WAN. Everything sounds great, right? But you might be wondering if SD-WAN is what you need. If you meet the three requirements below, then the answer is – Yes.
- Multiple branch offices in various locations
- Limited IT staff
- The desire to cut costs
If you have multiple offices and remote facilities then SD-WAN will probably bring you many benefits. SD-WAN also provides you with low-cost broadband and QoS features that up the general performance and improve bandwidth, as well as lowers costs. The improved visibility that you get with SD-WAN is extremely important to network administrators who struggle to control their growing networks. Finally, automated processes and improved monitoring will save time and money on large IT departments who need to keep important apps running at all times.
Who Can Help Your Transition to SD-WAN?
SD-WAN’s main benefit and the main reason many enterprises opt for it is the simplicity that comes with it. However, the whole process can be made even simpler if you choose managed SD-WAN.
Spooster provides SD-WAN as a managed service to numerous small and large businesses, completely ridding them of any maintenance-related work. This allows the companies to funnel their IT and staff resources to other, equally important areas of development.
With a managed SD-WAN solution, on top of all the benefits that SD-WAN carries, you will also offload many of the woes that the transition carries with itself. We, as an MSP (Managed Service Provider), will take care of infrastructure management, ISP aggregation, multi-tenancy support, security, and agility, as well as the financial aspect.
Therefore, if after reading the article you have reassured yourself that SD-WAN is the right path to take to improve your current network infrastructure, we will gladly help and make the transitioning process as painless and as efficient as possible.