SD WAN has gained incredible popularity over the past couple of years – it essentially went from being pretty much unheard of, to being a networking solution which has helped give a boosts to businesses in their thousands.
However, when looking for information about SD WAN, it can be hard to filter through all the pages of providers trying to sell you the solution in order to get to some hard facts. To that end, we’ve put together this helpful article to assist you in your search for the truth about SD WAN, and whether or not it’s worth incorporating into your business.
SD WAN – What is it?
It’s very common for businesses to make use of a Wide Area Network – a WAN. Looking into what a WAN is can be useful in understanding SD WAN. A WAN is essentially multiple locations, all connected to the same network, which are connected to a hub in the centre. This hub lets the branching locations make use of all kinds of apps and features.
For security purposes, the locations will each usually be connected directly to the internet using a Virtual Private Network (a VPN). The hub in the centre, as we mentioned, is where a business’s apps and services are housed – as well as the IT workers.
Why is SD WAN exciting?
SD WAN doesn’t actually replace any of the hardware on your network. Think of it more like something that overlays your network – it doesn’t make changes to infrastructure itself, instead it simply lets you have more control over what you have set up already.
The main purpose of this is that it gives a business centralized control over their network – all the devices on your WAN can be accessed through SD WAN’s interface. This can be incredibly useful – but it goes even further than control.
SD WAN can bring all your network’s devices together, letting them work in harmony with each other. If your network has a variety of devices, chances are they’ll be communicating using different protocols – or languages. The data handled by all these different devices will be handled in a slightly different way depending on the protocol – data from a wireless connection will be handled differently to data from a wired connection, for example. These different protocols are all virtualized by SD WAN – which lets each connection work together, as the data can be handled the same.
What this brings to a network is a lot more flexibility than you’d usually find. It’s not often that you’d find a network with a VPN circuit and a 4G connection working together, but SD WAN makes this possible. It also opens many doors when it comes to network design, and introducing new sites and locations to your network!
What SD WAN can do for you
That’s a basic breakdown of what SD WAN is capable of. Now it’s time to have a look at how exactly this can be a benefit to your business, to find out whether any of this technology is actually of use.
Security provisions made simple
As we talked about earlier, the central hub of the network allows the branches to have access to apps and services. Network security is no different. Storing security provisions centrally can be a great idea for any business concerned with protecting their data, and SD WAN makes rolling provisions across the network much simpler.
Businesses usually implement dedicated security measures, such as firewalls, at each location separately. SD WAN lets you set up your security in a central location since it lets any app be accessed all across the network. To come to the best solution for your network’s security, you should always talk to your provider, who can help you design a simple and effective way to implement it.
Make CoS changes fast
SD WAN can be very advantageous to any company that needs to use apps to stay online – and this tends to be most businesses nowadays. SD WAN allows users to make small Class of Service – CoS – changes all across your network, instead of you having to make changes for each device separately. This gives you a level of control over the routes the data on your network is sent down – meaning you can rely on traffic with a high priority getting where it needs to be, even if other areas on your network are congested.
This can be useful as it eliminates the need to go to each location separately, but there are some limits to how far this goes. SD WAN still isn’t quite at the level of MPLS when it comes to CoS tweaks, as SD WAN doesn’t make changes to infrastructure. While you can make tweaks across your whole network, you can’t make minute changes to data coming and going from individual network users or apps like you can with systems that alter your infrastructure.
Setting up new sites is a breeze
SD WAN comes with two main advantages when it comes to provisioning new sites and locations. Since SD WAN virtualizes and unifies the languages used by your network devices, you can set up sites with any type of connection you like. You can mix broadband or wired internet connections with wireless 4G connections if you so desire, or if it’d be the simpler option – SD WAN simply gives you more options than before.
That being said, since SD WAN is simply an overlay, you’ll still need to get equipment set up and running correctly at each location, before being able to access it remotely. Once this is done though, the site can be configured remotely using SD WAN, meaning less time has to be spent travelling to and from physical locations.
SD WAN isn’t for every business, but if you’re looking for a simple way to have more control over your network, it may be the solution for you.