As a business owner, your responsibility is to ensure that your operations run smoothly, that your processes enhance productivity and that you minimize operational risks. You aim to minimize capital expenditure (CAPEX) and ensure that your operational costs (OPEX) do not choke your cash flow. As an entrepreneur, you are conscious that your organization’s IT infrastructure plays a significant role in achieving those objectives. Enter the (not so) new SD-WAN architecture.
This article will serve as an introduction for business owners like you. It may also be worth the read for IT Managers to help them understand how to “sell” SD-WANs to their boss 😉.
To first define what an SD-WAN is, let us talk about what is a LAN or local area network. A LAN is a network running in your organization if that organization is in a single location. A WAN is a wide area network; a WAN is a network of LANs, and the internet is the widest WAN there. If your organization has multiple locations, it probably is using a WAN to interconnect all its locations into one seamless network, into a network of networks. Several technologies enable WANs to exist; the MPLS protocol is one of the most adopted.
An SD-WAN is a software-defined (SD) WAN. In its simplest definition, SD-WANs are characterized by using software instead of (or assisting) hardware to interconnect networks.
Traditional WANs route Internet traffic with hardware rules, often only based on sender and receiver IP addresses without any notions of context or purpose, just by brute force without any heightened intelligence. That’s where the “software-defined” of SD-WANs come into play. Of course, this is a simplification; nevertheless, it depicts a somewhat accurate picture.
As enterprises of all sizes continue expanding their use of cloud-based services, network traffic keeps growing, according to a study by Cisco. For organizations, having Internet connectivity at nearly 100% up-time is essential for business continuity and productivity. SD-WANs play a large part in achieving this goal.
SD-WANs help your organization provide a consistent quality of experience (QoEx) by dynamically routing Internet traffic based on the application. It does so by using the most efficient connectivity path, all the while using failover routes should the main one be overloaded or unavailable. For example, email traffic may be routed to lower bandwidth connections, while IP telephony and videoconferencing will use higher priority routes.
Organizations with a single location can also reap the benefits of an SD-WAN, especially for failover and business continuity, by leveraging their multipath and multinetwork capabilities. For example, should the main fiber optics link become nonoperational, an SD‑WAN could route traffic over an organization’s existing COAX or LTE Internet connection.
For the IT Manager, SD-WANs help simplify their day-to-day network operation, enabling them to have more time on strategic initiatives your business operations may require.
In short, SD-WAN help increase productivity, reduce costs, lower operational risks and improve customer experience. For business owners, this should sound like a wham bang for SD-WAN.