Networking technology is constantly evolving. Corporations and engineers are always looking for ways to improve the data speeds, security, reliability, and integrity of their network traffic. The latest evolution of networking making waves in the business and technology sectors is SD-WAN, and its benefits are astounding.
SD-WAN applies software-defined networking in a new and innovative way. Taking the SDN concepts usually applied in local area networks and integrating them into expansive wide area networks is changing the cost and performance expectations from setting up large corporate WANs.
MPLS vs SD-WAN
With the development of any new technology, it helps to compare it to the previous generation still in wide use. MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) is used by many companies as a means of getting a reliable connection that is highly secure. What that translates into is MPLS having incredibly low loss rates, often less than 0.1% data loss, and due to MPLS utilizing completely self-contained network connections it is much more secure than a traditional internet connection.
In order to avoid the cost of MPLS connections, companies often implement complex DMVPN systems over the internet. Though they gain the security of a VPN connection, the loss rates still tend to rely on the path the network traffic takes to get to the end point. Where SD-WAN comes in is with its advanced and reliable protocols enabling security beyond basic encryption, costs that are vastly lower than MPLS connections, and a means of easily managing the entire network topology from a central location.
The primary benefits gained when switching to SD-WAN:
SD-WAN’s virtual WAN architecture can ease the burden of sharing resources and securely exchanging data for companies with distributed offices.
SD-WAN can operate on the public internet, which reduces the costs associated with privately owned MPLS networking. Additionally, it does not require the expensive hardware required to operate with MPLS. Cost savings extend into the data usage as well, considering MPLS networks have bandwidth penalties and SD-WAN does not. That means you gain the ability to increase traffic without the increased cost associated with a corporate MPLS network.
With network traffic trending toward higher bandwidth demands due to HD video streaming, AR and VR applications are being integrated into business services. At the same time, an ever-increasing demand for email and file transfers—which decreases the costs associated with bandwidth usage—is becoming incredibly important.
There is an incredible boost in agility gained with an SD-WAN network over MPLS because you are able to completely alter the network rules from a central hub and distribute those rules automatically without requiring any on-site alteration to the individual end points.
Beyond network changes, there is value in being able to quickly recover from unexpected outages or revert changes to your network immediately. SD-WAN decreases the impact of outages and deployment issues.
Whether you want to continue using the MPLS physical infrastructure or move over to the public internet, SD-WAN is able to operate on any network infrastructure.
SD-WAN’s highly advanced QoS features allow you to modify network bandwidth usage instantly so the company’s critical digital infrastructure traffic is prioritized over all other data usage.
When it comes to security, SD-WAN has end-to-end security and utilizes IPSEC. Every device on the network is authenticated due to the highly scalable key-exchange features and the software-defined security. Your IT team can also monitor traffic and usage activity across the entire network in order to identify security concerns or areas of improvement.
In a typical network design, a company will have a Primary circuit and a failover circuit. With SD-WAN, both circuits plug in to the same device and “share” bandwidth in what is called “Active/Active” configuration. So instead of having a 10M Primary and 10M Failover as described, the company using SD-WAN at the edge will now have a 20M port combining both.
As performance degrades on one link, the other is used more, evening out the performance. Just plug in to the SD-WAN device and the bandwidth and performance of the new link is simply ‘added’ to the network. This shared port capacity (bandwidth) results in better performance and enhanced QoS.
Whether you are just researching SD-WAN as a future alternative or searching for ways to improve your network performance and cost efficiency, the benefits are difficult to deny. With the growth in the technology, many service providers are integrating SD-WAN into their offerings and making it a more enticing option.
As more companies begin offering SD-WAN solutions, evaluating each of them will become increasingly tedious. Partnering with a managed service provider that can determine the link between your company’s unique requirements and the right technology options can give you clear insight into how SD-WAN can help your network scale.
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