Should you use SD WAN to Help Grow Your IT Network?

Should you use SD WAN to Help Grow Your IT Network?

What is the use of SD WAN? A WAN is multiple devices, all connected, situated over a large area. The internet itself is essentially a WAN.


If, as part of your business, you’re interested in IT networking, it’s possible you may have heard some commotion about Software Defined Networking as part of a Wide Area Network – more often referred to as SD WAN.

Sometimes it feels like for every good and informative tweet, post, or article about SD-WAN, there are a dozen more littered misunderstandings on the subject. In an effort to help out people looking into SD WAN, here is a simple guide to what it really is, and how it could be used in your business.

Defining SD WAN

Before trying to understand SD WAN or SASE – the more security focused approach to SD WAN – it’s useful to have somewhat of an idea of what a Wide Area Network (WAN) actually is. A WAN is multiple devices, all connected, situated over a large area. The internet itself is essentially a WAN. For a business, WANs are usually a hub in the center, holding network infrastructure devices such as servers, which have numerous branches such as cloud services and offices.

Commonly each of these geographical locations will have a LAN – a local area network. These become WANs once they are connected to the internet, and then each other. All the resources located in the central hub can then be shared all across the WAN, so each location can have access to services such as central systems, software, and storage.

The truth

SD WAN is quite an intriguing idea. Nothing in your existing WAN is replaced, WAN just overlays what is already there, granting you additional control over your WAN, provided by specific software. This software works with each device on the network; letting you access controls that generally are only accessible by syncing physically, in person, with the device. SD WAN lets you control all the devices on our network remotely, no matter where they are in relation to you.

This certainly sounds handy, and definitely means that network maintenance workers will waste far less time traveling around to physical locations, but what does it really mean for a business? There are a lot of claims floating around the internet, but how many of them are true? Read on for a look at some of these claims, and we’ll try to shed some light on which are fact, and which are fiction.

SD WAN lets businesses instantly set up new sites

Having the ability to remotely get the hardware working instantaneously would be a dream come true for those whose jobs involve quickly setting up remote locations.

Unfortunately, as we mentioned earlier, SD does not replace any of your existing hardware; it only provides an overlay to help you control it; meaning you need to already have good hardware connections in place, otherwise SD WAN has nothing to be used with. It will definitely be helpful in getting new sites online; as long as your existing hardware is up to scratch.

SD WAN will make MPLS connections unnecessary

There’s a lot of talk about SD WAN being a good alternative to MPLS systems. MPLS is generally used by businesses that need to have many applications up and running over their sites and can be rather expensive.

MPLS (Multi-protocol label switching) is a data management system that high-performance networks utilize. In an MPLS system, the routes used by data to travel through a network can be dynamically altered; meaning crucial, high-priority traffic gets to where it needs to be as simple as possible. The system keeps an eye on these routes, always making sure that important applications stay up and running.

SD WAN can provide a similar function. It offers a managed Class of Service (CoS) system, which also helps to give priority to certain types of network traffic. The difference is that MPLS is actually part of your network’s infrastructure, meaning it can do a lot more than the slight tweaks in CoS offered by an infrastructure overlay.

It’s unlikely, for now anyway, that there will be any software solutions that negate the need for better hardware. In time though, it’s entirely possible that users may shift away from MPLS.

SD WAN will improve your experience using SaaS

SD WAN can definitely be advantageous if you’re making use of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications over your WAN. This is due to the fact that you have your hub in the centre which can make sure all of your satellite operations are able to access the exact same applications, with the data all having the same priority and speed.

It’s so important that your real-time applications are running at their best; especially when they’re being used by customers or end users. Being able to remotely address SaaS app related issues in your WAN can make all the difference. This may impact your business a lot, or it might not; it all depends on which SaaS apps you are using, and how much you rely on them as a business.

SD WAN lets you control the priority of traffic and bandwidth

You may well have heard some buzz from WAN providers about how; compared to more traditional methods of managing a WAN, their service is of much higher quality.

It seems however that this could just be all talk. It’s certainly true that SD WAN can increase the quality of your service; but it’s fairly unlikely that big changes can happen when using SD WAN alone. It’s critical that your current infrastructure is as efficient as possible. It can surely aid you in pushing your network as far as it can go; but big changes tend to only be possible through changes in hardware.

What SD WAN means for your business

When all is said and done, each business needs different things from its IT network. The issues we’ve discussed above may be important to you but might not matter much to another business. It all comes down to how your network is being run. If currently, you work with a managed service provider; who addresses every issue before you even notice there’s a problem then sure; you might not see much of a difference with SD WAN.


But, if you’re working with an in-house IT team who are stretched far too thin; spending so much time traveling between sites, implementing SD WAN could make all the difference in the world.

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