Wireless Connectivity

Explained: SD-WAN and its Benefits

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide area network, is a virtual wide area network (WAN) architecture that allows businesses to utilize any combination of transport services such as MPLS, broadband, or LTE to connect users to applications. This method of deploying and managing WANs helps increase flexibility and delivers higher performance at a lower cost.


What is the difference between SD-WAN and traditional WAN?

Traditional WANs require dedicated hardware (routers and switches) at each office location which can be expensive and inflexible. This model of backhauling traffic from branch offices or locations to the main data center can add latency and reduce performance.

Unlike router-centric WANs, SD-WANs are designed to support applications hosted on-premises, in public or private clouds, as well as SaaS services like Dropbox, Office 365, and more. SD-WANs are self-learning and can respond automatically in real-time to network changes that could impact performance. This means that it can adapt to mitigate network congestion, transport outages, or brownouts allowing users to be able to connect to applications without manual IT intervention. SD-WAN can do this because it can utilize multiple pathways (broadband, 5G or LTE for example) to connect a user to an application. Young woman touching future technology social network button

Is SD-WAN secure?

SD-WAN can improve security by encrypting any traffic between locations or branches. The SD-WAN routers are customizable and can be configured on a granular level to control which apps or services are allowed to roam the network.


The 3 main types of SD-WAN solutions

While there are many ways to implement an SD-WAN solution due to its customizable nature, there are three types that we will highlight:

Software-based SD-WAN

As the name implies, this type of SD-WAN uses software to provide all necessary SD-WAN functions. Software applications are installed on servers or virtual machines (commodity hardware) and managed by the SD-WAN supplier.

There are quite a few advantages of software-based SD-WAN solutions. They can be cost-effective in comparison to hardware-based due to the ability to utilize commodity hardware. It can be easier to manage and deploy since you are not required to configure dedicated hardware or appliances. It is also extremely flexible and scalable as your needs change.

The downside to using software-based SD-WAN is that the performance may suffer in some cases due to sharing resources with other applications. It can also be less secure since it is not physically isolated from other traffic networks.

Hardware-based SD-WAN

Hardware-based SD-WAN utilizes purpose-built hardware to provide all necessary SD-WAN functions. The hardware is generally installed at each office branch or location, and then managed by the SD-WAN supplier.

The main benefits to hardware-based SD-WAN is that is offers the most stable platform for all your applications. The dedicated hardware increases performance and stability because no other applications are sharing its capabilities. It can also be more secure simply because you can physically isolate any SD-WAN traffic from other networks.

As with all technological solutions, there are downsides to every upside. Hardware-based SD-WAN solutions will be more expensive simply because of the hardware and complex installation required. For this reason, it may not be feasible or necessary for all businesses.

Hybrid SD-WAN

The Hybrid SD-WAN solution combines a bit of both the software-based and hardware-based models. They use a combination of dedicated, purpose-built hardware and commodity servers or virtual machines. These are all managed by the SD-WAN supplier.

Hybrid SD-WAN will accomplish many of the benefits of a hardware-based solution (stability, performance, and security) while reducing cost where commodity hardware is used. However, it can be more complex to deploy and manage than the other two options. This solution is the best option for businesses that need a flexible and scalable option along with the performance of a hardware-based solution.


Is SD-WAN the best option for your business?

There are a few things to consider before making the switch to SD-WAN. If your goal is to improve your network performance, flexibility, and security it may be the perfect option for you. However, there are a few things for you to consider:

  1. Do you have limited IT staff and resources? SD-WAN is a service, so it can be easier to manage than traditional network models.
  2. Do you have multiple business locations or branches? SD-WAN is an elite solution for connecting multiple locations with efficiency and it is cost effective.
  3. Does your business require high bandwidth? If your business utilizes VoIP or video conferencing for day-to-day operations, SD-WAN can provide the required quality and reliability.

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, reach out to us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com to discuss SD-WAN and how it could benefit your business.

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