What is SD-WAN?

June 19, 2018

By Maurice Nagle, Web Editor

Innovation is in the midst of a software-defined frenzy. From the data center to the conference room, this movement is improving efficiency, productivity and the bottom line along the way. One area getting a software-defined makeover is the WAN, Software-defined Wide Area Network, or SD-WAN, is a key component of digital transformation, as we dive headfirst into the cloud era.

As Versa Networks Head of Product Marketing Rob McBride told me in a recent interview, “At a high level, the overall concept of ‘Digital Transformation’ is about creating and adopting new nimbler operational processes and technologies that are automated and work to deliver better total cost of ownership across all aspects of the business.” SD-WAN is critical in this evolution.

Each SD-WAN provider puts its own spin on the technology, with connectivity the common thread for industry vendors.  For instance, Versa takes a holistic approach when it comes to security, embedded in the platform’s DNA. SD-WAN delivers an architecture capable of driving branch operations in a secure, high performing manner.

“Not only is connectivity consumption changing but this new world of multi-cloud, mobility and IoT is also changing the security landscape and posture of every organization. In the beginning we recognized that networking, security, cloud and application experience were intersecting, and this is what has driven our approach,” McBride highlighted.

Fundamentally, SD-WAN could be leveraged as an orchestration solution: leaning on automation, the network team programs how traffic is intended to be managed and the implementation handles the rest. In this case, it’s not that SD-WAN removes network complexity, the technology simply masks it. An additional SD-WAN approach is to remove routing protocols and instead use application sessions and flows to move traffic.  In this scenario, the network team sets application policies; the application priority, security and the available paths, and then the solution continually monitors the applications and moves traffic based on which path best meets the SLA.

An SD-WAN deployment can allow a firm to build a hybrid WAN to rely less on private links and potentially more heavily on broadband or 4G.  SD-WAN solutions can often actively monitor network endpoints to ensure high quality. And when broadband quality is inferior, traffic can be pushed to the private link. This can mean lower costs for the enterprise, as companies can place more investment in broadband and shrink the amount of costly private links in use.

Flexibility, an integral piece to any firm’s network is one of the primary benefits of deploying an SD-WAN solution. The beauty of an SD-WAN deployment is that if a firm enables an active-active hybrid WAN it can adjust to network conditions automatically.

Network evolution is ongoing, particularly in this phase of digital transformation. Whether we’re talking about an enterprise DIY project, managed services or turning to a trusted SD-WAN provider and its supply chain, SD-WAN is enabling the future. Choose your SD-WAN solution wisely.

Have questions about this up-and-coming technology? Join us at SD-WAN Expo 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for your fill of SD-WAN, and more.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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