A Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) helps Enterprise Users to connect across multiple sites as well as to data centers, public clouds and SAAS providers. It does this using an edge device along with an underlying transport, which is typically an internet connection.
Historically the job of a Wide Area Network (WAN) was to connect branch offices back to headquarters or to a data center where the business applications were accessed.
As many applications moved to the cloud, the concept of a WAN has evolved. In addition to connecting corporate offices and colocation facilities, enterprises now need to access public clouds like AWS and Azure as well as SAAS applications like Salesforce and 0365.
That’s where SD-WAN comes in. Depending on the intent of your network traffic, the SD-WAN device is able to apply routing and rules to efficiently guide and secure traffic .
The Benefits of Enterprise SD-WAN Services
#1 Centralized Control
Configuring traditional WANs meant altering configurations in the edge gear at each site. SD-WAN changes and configurations are made from a centralized portal location.
#2 Visibility and Analytics
Having a centralized location and portal allows easier visibility across network performance. Having better information lends itself to improved decision making surrounding the network.
Edge device virtualization allows cloud based security add ons that can encrypt and secure traffic across the web.
#4 Reduced Operational Costs
Traditional WANs like MPLS and Ethernet circuits can be expensive when compared with SD-WAN solutions. However, SD-WAN solutions still require an underlying transport. If the underlying quality of the transport is poor then obviously the performance of your network is going to be poor.
#5 Improved Provisioning Times
The provisioning of a WAN node from a carrier can take a few weeks to even a few months. As long as you can get an internet connection up and going, even with a temporary solution like a 4G wireless card, you can deploy a new SD-WAN site in a few days.
#6 Network Reliability
SD-WAN equipment will accept multiple transport connections. You can greatly improve your reliability and uptime, by having multiple internet connections plugged into the same edge device. In the event of a network blackout or brownout, the gear will choose to use the better performing network.
#7 Improved Cloud Performance
Instead of backhauling traffic across your WAN to reach the internet, traffic bound for the cloud will hit the edge device and take a direct route to its cloud destination without taking any unnecessary pit stops.
"Great, so who sells SD-WAN?"
Generally, the same companies that brought you WAN are now bringing you SD-WAN. The three main componets of a WAN network are:
- The underlying transport provided by the carrier.
- The edge equipment (routers or switches).
- The management of the network. Sometimes done inhouse, but often managed by a managed service provider.
All three of these players have transitioned into the SD-WAN space to sell SD-WAN solutions.
#1 Internet Service Providers
ISPs have aligned themselves with equipment manufacturers to offer SD-WAN services to their enterprise clients. They then install and manage the service as well as provide the underlying transport.
#2 Value Added Resellers
Value Added Resellers have partnered with equipment manufactures and can recommend internet services, and help to deploy and manage the service.
#3 Networking Equipment Manufacturers
Equipment Manufacturers, can sell directly to the Enterprise clients. Many Enterprise Clients take a DIY path and often manage the network themselves and procure their own internet circuits as the underlying transport.
Enterprise SD-WAN Wrap Up
SD-WAN provides major performance gains, particualary for organizations with many locations. The additonal costs benefits are a nice added bonus.