If you’re a business with an IT network, SD WAN has the potential to offer a whole new set of controls for the network – ushering in a new era of how business networks function.
A big part of the excitement around SD WAN is the offer of greater control of an IT infrastructure – without the need to be directly ‘hands on’ – but, while SD WAN does promise a lot – not all the information out there is entirely factual.
Here, we’ll separate the facts from the fiction, and look at a few ways that SD WAN may be able to help you boost your business through greater control and performance across your IT network.
What is SD WAN?
To understand SD WAN, it’s useful to break the acronym down – starting with the ‘WAN’ section. Odds are, your business has a WAN or Wide Area Network, as this is simply the term used to describe devices that are connected over a geographical distance. Whether you’re got additional offices, home workers, contractors on client sites – or any other IT work that occurs outside your main office, you’ve got a WAN.
So, what about the SD part? Well, SD stands for ‘Software Defined’ – indicating that the SD WAN system isn’t a piece of physical infrastructure – but instead a software overlay that control your WAN.
Interestingly, the devices that currently make up your WAN will already have a control system – but it’s often one that requires physical hands on to adjust. With SD WAN, you get a control system that you can access from any connected location – and you can use to adjust a world of settings within your network – from physical setup elements – to how your network traffic is handled.
What is SD WAN good for?
Since SD WAN systems are compatible with virtually every networkable device on the market, it provides a control for your entire network that can be accessed from any internet connected machine.
As such, your geographical location becomes irrelevant – you could be on the other side of the planet – but still able to adjust how your applications are running to make sure your team are getting the best from your network.
Will SD WAN replace MPLS systems?
Owing to the fact that SD WAN gives you incredible control of your networked devices, a lot of companies (especially those who are currently paying a significant sum for the tech) wonder if SD WAN will boost your business by removing the need for costly MPLS systems that have traditionally been used to ensure you’re getting the very best performance from your network.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case as yet – as an MPLS system actually integrates with your network – rather than sitting over the top as an ‘overlay’ – as an SD WAN system does. MPLS actually intelligently routes your traffic on an on-going dynamic basis – whereas SD WAN only give you control of the devices on your network – so, the two can actually work alongside one another.
SD WAN will help you to get new sites online quickly
Another interesting boost that SD WAN may be able to offer is the ability to provision new sites quickly.
Certainly if you’ve got someone to physically plug the devices in at your new site with an existing network connection, then this is a distinct possibility – although it’s worth remembering that those two things aren’t always going to be possible – especially not the live internet circuit already being in place.
In fact, internet circuit delivery is the number one factor that holds up new location provisioning – unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of internet connection providers – no matter how well organised our networking plans are. That said, if you’ve plotted ahead and are opening your doors to an online location, SD WAN could give you a significant boost compared to a situation that sees you needing to put physical boots on the ground.
SD WAN can boost your application use
It’s when you start looking at the use of Software as a Service applications that you really start to see some significant SD WAN benefits for your networking plans. Your management portal gives you the ability to check on performance across your network – so you can make sure each location is accessing your applications with the same speed and priority.
Increasingly, mission critical real-time applications are delivered as a service – and networking hiccups at any one location could see major customer service issues for your end-users. Having all locations working at the same speed represents an enormous boost to productivity levels and, as a knock-on effect, customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, the CoS (Class of Service) controls that SD WAN offers means that you can control your most critical applications in such a way that you can be certain, regardless of what else is occurring across your IT network, that uptime is guaranteed across all your sites.
What else could SD WAN offer your business?
While this quick overview of SD WAN will hopefully outline a few benefits – it’s worth exploring SD WAN at much greater depth if you’d like to be certain that it’s going to be the right solution for you – based on the IT network infrastructure that you currently have – and the applications and process that you use it to run.
There are no two businesses exactly the same – so, how much impact SD WAN could potentially have for you depends on how your network is currently handled and maintained. If you currently employ the services of a managed service provider (MSP) who does a good job of monitoring your network performance and making dynamic adjustments, the SD WAN might not offer you the most value for money at the moment – but, on the other hand, if you’ve got an IT team that simply do not have the time to keep on top of network monitoring across all your sites, then giving them the ability to maintain everything from an SD WAN portal could be transformative for your networking experience.
You may also like to read: What is a Multi-Protocol Label Switching Network?