Software-defined Wide Area Network

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What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is the application of softwarebased network technologies that virtualize WAN connections to provide agility, performance and reliability for network traffic between remote and branch offices to data centers and the cloud. SD-WAN leverages cloud-hosting to simplify deployment and management of network devices and employs traffic steering to applications in the data center and the cloud. It combines the bandwidth of broadband with existing WAN connections to more efficiently and cost-effectively connect users to data center and cloud-based applications from any location in the network. SD-WAN optimizes traffic over multiple available connections (MPLS, broadband, LTE) to deliver traffic across the network, delivering a better user experience to any location. SD-WAN will dynamically steer traffic to the best available link, and if the available links show any transmission issues, it will immediately apply remediation for jitter and packet loss based on policies to ensure performance of the high-priority applications.

Benefits of SD-WAN

Network agility

Because SD-WAN is cloud-delivered and software-based, it allows for quick adaptation to changing needs, including adding access to cloud-based services, standing up new branches or remote offices, and dynamic steering of all traffic for optimized application and data delivery.


Ease of deployment

SD-WAN allows for various deployment options for the edge device, including: dedicated hardware, a virtualized appliance, or a hybrid solution (cloud/software and hardware). In each instance, the components connect to a central orchestrator when brought online, and configurations are pushed from the central orchestrator to the edge device. There is no need for a specialized technician to facilitate installation, which saves time and money.

Central management and control

A centrally located orchestrator monitors all network activity, alerts when there are problems, and enables the remote remediation of issues. The orchestrator enables the automatic push of updated configurations and application specific policies to each network node, quickly and efficiently. In addition, it delivers real-time analytics and reporting that can be used for performance monitoring and troubleshooting.


Data segmentation

The SD-WAN controller can be used to create virtual network segments to isolate data, including PCI data, to ensure data integrity and for PCI audit compliance. Segmentation also allows for overlapping IP addresses, which makes it easy to incorporate multiple networks into the system.

Cost reduction

Gartner reports that an SD-WAN deployment is 2.5 times less expensive than traditional WAN architectures. The root of this reduction is attributed to:

  • Augmenting existing infrastructure, such as MPLS and leased lines, with broadband, LTE and other connection types to increase agility and reduce costs for bandwidth
  • Reducing problem identification and associated remediation costs; central management and control of network activity eliminates the need to send out trained technicians to assess issues and repair them
  • Allowing pay-as-you-go plans (subscription models) that defray high upfront investment costs and ongoing maintenance and upgrade fees
  • Zero-touch provisioning that allows quick branch deployments and time to accessibility, as all deployment functions are managed from the central IT home office
  • Flexible deployment model that can either interoperate with the branch office router or replace it
  • Eliminating the need to deploy application-specific hardware or software at each branch location, as the SD-WAN edge devices can host virtual services and direct access to cloud-based services.