New technology is always something that instigates a lot of buzz, excitement and anticipation. This is very true when it comes to the topic of SD-WAN and its application to enterprise networks. However, along with this excitement there is almost always a creation of hyperbole and myths that need to be addressed and debunked, where necessary.
In this article, we identify three prevalent assumptions of SD-WAN and explore exactly why we classify them as myths. Let’s start with the most straight forward one – cost as the only benefit to the technology.
Myth 1: SD-WAN’s only benefit is that it is cost-effective
While this is undoubtedly one of the biggest advantages of implementing software-defined networking and one of the main pillars that enterprises lean on heavily when deciding, it is certainly not the only one. The advantages of SD-WAN supersede cost-effectiveness and benefit users in many ways that include usability and accessibility.
For example, when compared to an alternative standalone method, like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), the overall management of SD-WAN is far better and more efficient. With the presence of plug-and-play edge devices and simple point-and-click services, this means that all users of varying technical expertise and understanding will be able to learn and manage the network effectively. Therefore, SD-WAN networks reduce the need of enterprises having to depend on dedicated IT experts and personnel. Given that such networks typically utilise a centralized user interface, management is made even much simpler.
The reality: The tech is more than just a cheap networking alternative – it is a significantly better approach that makes the overall management and operation of networks simpler. This is perfect for businesses and enterprises with limited resources.
Myth 2: SD-WAN = WAN optimisation
Often, many clients we have worked with have initially had the misconception that SD-WAN = WAN optimisation given the positioning of the former as a better networking alternative. However, SD-WAN is so much more than just WAN optimisation given that optimisation is more of an approach that is meant to orchestrate reduced bandwidth consumption via processes like deduplication, caching and compression.
Most notably, WAN optimisation focuses on Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) traffic that is not delay sensitive, which indirectly creates more room for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Traffic that is delay sensitive – essentially translating to better call quality.
SD-WAN, on the other hand, directly focuses on both delay sensitive and real-time traffic - meaning that it monitors packet loss at the end nodes and easily switches the traffic to the best available and possible path via modern software-defined networking (SDN) technology.
Therefore, these two options are not only inequivalent, rather, they can be used in sync with one another, simultaneously.
The reality: Many enterprises now consult with providers in search of both solutions – SD-WAN and WAN optimisation working together given that the two are complementary services and can be used together to provide the best possible treatment to all kinds of available data. In fact, Spooster is one example of a leading provider in Melbourne that offers both SD-WAN implementation and WAN optimization, in addition to many other managed SD-WAN services.
Myth 3: SD-WAN will replace MPLS
Perhaps one of the biggest myths about SD-WAN is that it is a complete replacement of existing networking technologies and approaches – most notably MPLS. Proponents of the tech often make the mistake of arguing that MPLS should be completely side-lined given the existence of affordable technology. This, however, is not necessarily true. Why?
One of the pillars of a successful SD-WAN provision is the promise of guaranteed high quality of service and reliable transportation/movement of data. While it is true that SD-WAN technology can use multiple Internet links, achieving these requirements is almost impossible with those links alone – this is where MPLS comes into play.
MPLS gives users complete control over traffic engineering, whereas SD-WAN can only decide on which path the data needs to take. Therefore, it is often recommended that enterprises maintain a mixture of Internet links as well as MPLS links, where possible, to ensure high quality of service and reliable real-time traffic when it comes to areas concerning voice and video – often mission-critical to the operations of many enterprises.
The reality: While it is true that, in terms of cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness, SD-WAN may be ahead of the curve when compared to MPLS, this does not mean MPLS is entirely redundant. Where possible, it may be beneficial for businesses to incorporate MPLS into their SD-WAN, which means that while the technology can reduce overall dependency on MPLS, it cannot eliminate it.
If you would like more information on this topic and additional assistance on how you can implement it at your business.