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More than just the latest trend: How SD-WAN is bringing flexibility and lower costs to the corporate

You can’t visit a tech site these days without seeing at least one article or post about Software-Defined Wide-Area Networking (SD-WAN). It has quickly become the hottest new thing in the IT networking space. But what is it, really, and how can moving to SD-WAN benefit your business?

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is an approach to designing and deploying an enterprise wide area network (WAN) that uses a cloud-based controller managing specialized SDWAN appliances to determine the most effective way to route traffic to remote locations.

Source: TechTarget @

According to Gartner, SD-WAN solutions provide a replacement for traditional WAN routers and have four key characteristics:

  1. Support multiple connection types (e.g., MPLS, internet, LTE, etc.). With SD-WAN solutions, you have the option to use one or multiple internet connections, with or without MPLS, as a WAN solution that supports real-time applications.

  2. Can execute dynamic path selection, which allows for load sharing across WAN connections. The centralized administration of networking policies enables different network technologies to be leveraged as appropriate.

  3. Provide a simple interface for managing WAN. SD-WAN supports zero-touch provisioning at a branch and should be as easy as a home WiFi to set up. There is no need to configure and maintain any technology manually because admins can adjust which traffic goes over which connection through a dashboard.

  4. Supports VPNs, as well as other third-party services like WAN optimization controllers, firewalls, web gateways, etc.

As enterprises of all sizes continue to move their corporate apps to the cloud, many are seeking WAN solutions to match the cloud’s flexibility and cost efficiency. It’s no longer enough for WAN to connect Local Area Networks (LANs) from disparate offices, it also needs to connect the cloud services for each of those offices. In addition, since traditional WAN solutions were not built for the cloud, they don’t always meet the security requirements of distributed and cloud-based applications. Hybrid WAN has been a temporary solution to resolve some of these challenges, but now SD-WAN has emerged as a more complete solution that provides the following benefits.

  • Flexibility: SD-WAN solutions allow companies to combine the bandwidth of multiple WAN connections, add or remove connections at any time, and also pool cellular or fixed-line connections. And because SD-WAN is so flexible, companies can scale as needed and reduce over-provisioning.

  • Cost: Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner estimates that an SD-WAN can be up to two and a half times less expensive than a traditional WAN architecture. SD-WAN architecture allows businesses to reduce or eliminate expensive MPLS networks through its ability to automatically route lower priority, less-sensitive data over more affordable public internet connections. Companies using SD-WAN are also able to automatically leverage all available network connections to full capacity.

  • Performance & Efficiency: SD-WAN solutions create secure, high-performance connections via the internet, but private networking can still be used as required for more sensitive, mission-critical traffic. It optimizes cloud-based services and delivers applications more efficiently. In addition, the automation of SD-WAN solutions increases IT productivity and user satisfaction.

SD-WAN can be an especially good fit for mid-market companies, many of which are still managing a complex (and often unnecessary) infrastructure of routers, WAN path controllers, WAN optimizers, firewalls, etc. Instead of every networking appliance known to man, most companies only need four or five key features, which is typically what you will find in SD-WAN solutions.

At Valadian, we work with our clients to ensure they are making the best decisions for any network changes, including SD-WAN deployments. Contact us today for a complementary 30-minute assessment of your current network and applications, and we can help you pinpoint the features and benefits that are most essential for your business.

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