Introduction to Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)
Imagine that you are the Chief Operations Officer of a global company and in charge of transportation logistics. Your responsibility includes contracting truckers for large payloads over long distances, small vehicles to tend to local business, and flights for cross-country meetings. It is a delicate balance between meeting deadlines and managing cost. By the same concept, the method of data transportation is driven by policies, priority, and cost. This is the promise of software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN technology.
SD-WAN combines several technologies and improvements. The use of multiple links for redundancy between sites date back to 1970s but central management was not introduced until later in the mid-2000s. The concept of this hybrid WAN is credited to Jim Kyriannis from New York University in 2013.
Technology firms predict that by the end of 2019, 30% of enterprises will deploy SD-WAN technologies to branch offices and move away from expensive private connections such as MPLS (multiprotocol label switching). Large deployments in retail, healthcare, financial services, education, and more are deployed across Fortune 2000 enterprises.
What are the main SD-WAN features and why are they important?
- Quality of Service (QOS) – Supports application prioritization, giving more bandwidth to where it is most needed, such as VoIP, replication, and line of business systems.
- Resiliency – Fault tolerance to reduce network downtime. If a region or connection is affected, SD-WAN can automatically switch over to available links.
- Security – Use of network-level authentication, data integrity, and encryption across multiple layers to meet business and compliance standards.
- Application Optimization – Use of data caching and keeping most frequent information to speed up access.
The methods of how SD-WAN is deployed and managed varies. For infrastructures and applications already hosted in the cloud, providers can deploy virtual appliances in hyper-scaled clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. For data centers and remote sites, wired and wireless devices are easy to deploy and manage.
In practice, companies can improve IT resiliencies with hosted applications in the cloud (SaaS), less infrastructure on-premise, and improve business continuity and disaster recovery.
The bottom line if you’re the COO or CTO?
Scale and meet your business needs without sacrifice. Reduce 50% of WAN Capital Expenditures (CapEx) or annual subscription licenses while increasing bandwidth 10 times.