Defining the Software Defined WAN

In recent years, there has been a considerable shift in the types of network traffic seen within the enterprise. Now, instead of primarily dealing with client/server computing where applications were supported by and accessed through data centers, traffic comes in the form of cloud and mobile activities. This is putting significant strain on traditional and legacy WAN that has been used by organizations for the past two decades and is causing network administrators to look for alternatives.

“Cloud and mobile computing create entirely different traffic patterns than legacy computing models,” noted Network World contributor Zeus Kerravala. “Also, business agility is a top priority for company leaders, and that drives the need for IT agility and, more specifically, network agility.”

What is an SD-WAN?
In order to address these traffic changes and emerging needs, a new type of network has been developed: the software defined WAN.

Although it is somewhat difficult to define the concept of SD-WAN, the technology can be seen as an extension of software defined networking. Similar to SDN, SD-WAN decouples the network configuration from hardware components and instead utilizes software and virtual environments to centralize and control network traffic and activities. This allows for more flexible management capabilities for network operators and engineers.

SD-WAN allows for more flexible management capabilities for network operators and engineers.SD-WAN enables network operators and engineers to more easily and intelligently control traffic and ensure support for critical applications.

“SD-WAN technologies … function like overlay networks for the WAN,” explained Tom Hollingsworth, a former VAR engineer and Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert. “They take the various inputs that you have, such as MPLS, cable and 4G/LTE networks. These inputs are then arranged in such a way as to allow you to intelligently program how traffic will behave on the links.”

This structure ensures that those in charge of the corporate network have the ability to allocate resources in a way that makes sense for their unique networking needs, ensuring that mission-critical applications always have the needed support.

Why use an SD-WAN?
In addition to boosted control over network activities and available resources, there are a number of other reasons to use an SD-WAN configuration. InformationWeek contributor Ethan Banks noted that an SD-WAN can reduce the overall complexity of the network by using software instead of hardware components. In addition, the technology is able to automatically react to changing network conditions, increasing the agility and flexibility of the network. And because SD-WANs utilize an array of available links, the business can lower its operating costs by relying less on more expensive private links and leveraging more inexpensive public bandwidth.

Overall, SD-WAN solutions come with their share of impactful benefits. Click here to learn more about SD-WAN technology or to schedule a product demo.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN)

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