Five Things You Need to Know About SD-WAN

February 24, 2017

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

SD-WAN is a new technology that dynamically adjusts to changing conditions in the wide area network. It does that by creating a network overlay that leverages automation and software.

This is all meaningful because it allows users of SD-WAN to employ a broader range of connectivity options and still have high-quality connectivity and good visibility.

International Data Corp. forecasts that SD-WAN revenue will start to ramp strongly in 2016 and 2017 across a range of vertical markets. Gartner predicts that up to 30 percent of users will be managing their WAN through software within three years. And IDC (News - Alert) estimates that worldwide SD-WAN revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 90 percent between 2015 and 2020.

Here are a handful of things you need to know about SD-WAN.

1.) SD-WAN addresses the cloud.

The adoption of cloud services is widely noted as a driving force that has led SD-WAN to take hold at this particular point in time. That’s because when more applications move to the cloud and become available via the software-as-a-service model, the internet comes into play. And when customers are connecting to applications on the internet, it makes sense to use the internet to connect to those applications. Ensuring WAN performance also becomes more important in a cloud-centric world, notes Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at research and consulting company IDC. "As public and private cloud use continues to grow, WAN performance becomes critical to latency-sensitive and mission-critical workloads and inter-datacenter business continuity," says Mehra. "Accordingly, as enterprises plan and implement comprehensive cloud strategies, WAN architectures need to be considered alongside, and in conjunction with, data center infrastructure. Moreover, as enterprises move business processes to the cloud, there is a greater need to fully integrate cloud-sourced services into WAN environments to ensure workload/application performance, availability, and security."

2.) SD-WAN can help you save money.

Although pricing for some more traditional connectivity is coming down, sometimes SD-WAN can create opportunities for savings. For example, SD-WAN can help some businesses drop their MPLS connections in favor of more affordable and widely available broadband services. It should also be noted that MPLS is not as efficient as locally gatewaying internet traffic, according to some sources, so SD-WAN can be a nice option there.

3.) SD-WAN prevents vendor lock in.

Software-defined wide area networking also prevents businesses from being locked in to a single communications services provider. That’s because organizations that use SD-WAN can leverage a variety of carriers and service types – including cable modem and DSL broadband services, Ethernet, LTE (News - Alert), microwave, and MPLS.

4.) SD-WAN let’s you use all your resources.

This technology is also noteworthy for its ability to allow customers to use multiple connections at all times. That’s as opposed to traditional models that employ primary and secondary links, but leave secondary links sitting idle until the primary goes down. And because all links are regularly employed with SD-WAN, users can be sure they are good to go when needed.

5.) SD-WAN helps with application performance too.

Of course, SD-WAN is not just about the network. This technology also can address application performance by leveraging pre-programmed policies to ensure that traffic gets the treatment it requires for the best user experience.

Edited by Maurice Nagle