What is SD Wan? Can it Help Your Business?

SD-WAN

Times and technology have certainly changed over recent years, and businesses are rapidly turning to the cloud and adopting the use of SaaS and IaaS applications in order to keep up.

While the race is on to move to the cloud, IT departments are realizing a big problem—the user application experience through wide area networks (WANs) is poor. Why? Because WAN networks were made for a different era and not designed to work with the cloud.

So, modern businesses need a new network solution if they want to see success with the cloud. That solution? SD-WAN.

What is SD-WAN?

An SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, is a “virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services—including MPLS, LTE, and broadband internet services—to securely connect users to applications.”

How Does SD-WAN Work?

An SD-WAN uses software and a centralized control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN. An SD-WAN will handle traffic based on priority, quality of service, and security requirements in alignment with your business’ specific needs.

Why Choose SD-WAN?

You’ve probably heard the saying “everything is going to the cloud,” and it’s true. More and more businesses applications continue to migrate to the cloud. Unfortunately, traditional WANs were not designed to be cloud-friendly.

Traditional WANs typically require backhauling all traffic from physical servers in offices to off-site data centers where advanced security inspection services can then be applied. However, this backhaul causes a delay that negatively affects application performance—resulting in a poor user experience and reduced productivity. This frustrates employees and costs your business money because it means higher labor expenses and lost revenue.

Business applications are no longer only hosted in these kind of enterprise data centers like they once were. So, the traditional router-centric model that backhauls traffic from the branch to headquarters to the internet and back again just doesn’t make sense anymore. Instead, business applications are now hosted in on-premise data centers, public or private clouds, or subscription-based Software as a service (SaaS) solutions (such as Office365 or Dropbox).

SD-WAN can securely connect users to any application—whether that application is hosted in a physical data center or in the cloud across any WAN transport service (including broadband internet services). So, by leveraging a cloud-friendly SD-WAN, businesses can “keep up with the times” and access the cloud-based applications they rely on to do business in our modern, digitally-driven, hyper-connected world!

Benefits of SD-WAN for Businesses

There are many benefits of SD-WAN for businesses that can help you develop a valuable competitive advantage in a highly saturated marketplace. Just a few major advantages of implementing SD-WAN solutions include:

  • Increased application performance
  • Enhanced user experience
  • Faster internet speeds
  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • Reduced costs for IT hardware, maintenance, and labor
  • Greater business agility and flexibility
  • Increased data security

SD-WAN vs SDN

SDN, or Software-Defined Networking, is a “network architecture approach that enables the network to be intelligently and centrally controlled, or programmed, using software applications.” The SD-WAN architectural model is similar to SDN in a few major ways. Both have centralized management, separation of control and data forwarding plane, and application-driven traffic routing policies. Neither support interoperability between vendors.

However, SDN is mainly used in data centers, while SD-WAN is most often deployed in both offices and data centers. SDN technology has taken a long time to mature, while SD-WAN is a more recent technology that has matured incredibly rapidly. Furthermore, cost savings from leveraging SDN typically come from increased operational efficiency, while SD-WAN cost savings are due to lower WAN transport and infrastructure costs.

SD-WAN vs MPLS

MPLS, or Multi-Protocol Label Switching, is a “protocol-agnostic routing technique designed to speed up and shape traffic flows across wide area- and service provider- networks.” It’s a way to connect your various sites together, and if you leverage VoIP solutions across a wide area network, you will most likely incorporate MPLS.

Many people think that SD-WAN and MPLS are mutually exclusive, but in reality, they can be used together! In fact, nearly 40% of businesses are moving towards hybrid models where SD-WAN broadband is used with their MPLS connections.

When the goal is to achieve the best possible internet connectivity, this hybrid model makes a lot of sense. Using SD-WAN broadband connections to augment MPLS networks can make it possible for businesses to:

  • Switch carriers, or mix and match carriers for various services, depending on real-time bandwidth availability
  • Simplify internet connectivity
  • Securely deploy new locations quickly
  • Reduce IT infrastructure and labor costs

MPLS is incredibly powerful, but it can also be incredibly expensive and compex. With the introduction of SD-WAN, many of these issues can effectively be minimized!

Choosing a SD-WAN Solution for Your Business

There are three types of SD-WAN architecture, each of which will benefit different types of businesses. Choosing which solution is best for yours will depend on the specific applications your company is accessing through your WAN.

The three main types of SD-WAN architecture include:

1. On-Premises-Only SD-WAN

An “on-premises-only” SD-WAN architecture is when your business has an SD-WAN box performing real-time traffic shaping at each site. Unlike the other types of SD-WAN architectures, the on-site SD-WAN box does not connect to a cloud gateway. Instead, it only connects to your businesses’ other sites.

So, it’s an ideal fit for businesses that host all their applications in-house and do not use any cloud-based applications. However, most modern organizations can no longer remain successful and competitive without leveraging cloud-based applications to do business.

2. Cloud-Enabled SD-WAN

A “cloud-enabled” SD-WAN architecture is when your business has an on-site SD-WAN box connecting to a cloud gateway. This allows you to experience the benefits of an on-premises-only architecture, and because the cloud gateway is networked directly to the major cloud providers, it also results in an overall improvement in the performance of your cloud-based applications.

Plus, if your Internet circuit fails while using a cloud application, the gateway can keep a cloud session active, and if you have an alternate internet circuit, the SD-WAN can instantly re-route your cloud app there. This prevents interruption of a single session and keeps your business moving forward even during a circuit fail. So, it’s an ideal fit for businesses that rely on various cloud applications like Office 365, Drop Box, Azure, or Salesforce to conduct their day-to-day operations.

3. Cloud-Enabled Plus Backbone SD-WAN

A “cloud-enabled plus backbone” SD-WAN architecture can take your cloud-enabled SD-WAN architecture to a whole new level. This type of SD-WAN architecture provides an on-site SD-WAN box that connects your site to the SD-WAN provider’s nearest network point of presence (POP). There, your traffic hops on the SD-WAN provider’s private, fiber optic, network backbone. While your WAN traffic is passing through the SD-WAN provider’s private backbone, performance of all network traffic is improved—especially real-time traffic like voice, video, and virtual desktop.

The backbone is also directly connected with major cloud application providers, which increases the overall performance and reliability of the cloud-based applications you rely on to do business. So, it’s an ideal fit for a business that run a lot of real-time network applications, or who have a lot of remote employees that are regularly using video or web conferencing-type tools.

The Bottom Line of SD-WAN

As technology continues to evolve and more and more business tools and applications continue to migrate to the cloud, modern organizations need a way to keep up. SD-WAN is a valuable solution.

SD-WAN is being rapidly adopted in production by companies of all sizes and industries across the world because it delivers an easily attainable and measurable ROI—plus increased efficiency and security through faster internet speeds and boosted productivity.

In fact, as of the second half of 2018, there were more than 10,000 production SD-WAN deployments industry-wide, and that number is only expected to continue growing as we approach 2020. Is your business ready to be next?

Transform Your Business with Intelligent Cloud Access

At Avail Technology Solutions, our goal is to enhance your user experience through intelligent access to the cloud-based applications and online collaboration tools you rely on to do business.

With bundled internet services and unique packages of cloud application optimization tools, we have a convenient solution to meet any organization’s unique internet connectivity needs and budget. Plus, we offer onsite implementation for easy set-up and management, monitoring, and service desk capabilities for ongoing support, increased performance, and true visibility—making your migration to the cloud easier than ever before.

Ready for internet connectivity you can actually count on? Contact us today!

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