Network Basics: What You Need To Know About SD-WAN

October 27, 2016

There are a boatload of acronyms when it comes to networking – MPLS, LAN, WAN, SIP, VoIP, to name a few. For the non-expert, it can all be overwhelming; All that matters to you is that your network works, you aren’t dropping calls, and your data is flowing smoothly. But, there’s a new acronym coming out and we want you to know about it. Here is a primer in the revolutionary model of SD-WAN.

Let’s start at the beginning. Your office likely uses a LAN (Local Area Network), an internal computer network that links devices in a building, or several buildings in a close geographic area. Now, if you have multiple locations, you have a WAN (Wide Area Network) that connects all of your LANs using a private or public transmission system, generally a subscription based service via a telecom provider.

WANs can connect using wired and wireless service, like MPLS, T1s, commercial broadband internet, cellular data networks and Wi-Fi. These services can operate over a dedicated, private connection (backed by an SLA) or over a shared, public connection like the internet. Most WANs use a hybrid of these services, both public and private, but latency and bandwidth restraints can cause network performance issues. Enter SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN).

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is an alternative approach to designing and deploying WAN to make hybrid WAN architectures easier for enterprises to operate and manage. It utilizes a combination of virtualization, application-level policies and network overlays, on-site SD-WAN devices, software platforms or customer premises equipment (CPE).  SD-WAN aggregates multiple public and private WAN links, and automatically selects the optimal path for traffic, based on real-time conditions.

That was all pretty technical, so let’s simplify it. The goal of SD-WAN is to eliminate the need for expensive private WAN systems like MPLS. As more offices shift work to the cloud, all these dedicated private lines start to feel unnecessary. It is also simplifying the entire data transfer process, adding redundancy, and improving performance. SD-WAN is dynamically shifting traffic across multiple links based on link quality. So it can save you money and make your network work better. That is a good thing!

So this new network sounds great and we should switch to it immediately, right? Not at all. Every organization has different needs. You have to take stock of all the equipment and systems you have and then look at where you hope to be in the future. You should consult an expert in networking and telecommunications to help you find the solution that works best for your business, now and into the future.  Corporate Technologies Group is carrier/provider agnostic – supporting over 140 different VOIP, WAN network and cloud service providers. We support clients from network design to implementation, post-install support and remediation. We can help you. Contact us today.