As more and more businesses move to the cloud, they discover that their traditional wide area networks (WANs) can no longer serve their needs. SD-WAN is a networking solution that offers many other benefits over traditional WANs, including reduced costs, improved performance, and increased flexibility. But what does SD-WAN stand for?
Below, we'll take a deeper look at what SD-WAN solutions are and how they can help your business take advantage of the cloud.
What Does SD-WAN Stand For?
If you're wondering, "what does SD-WAN stand for," the answer is simple: software-defined wide area network.
SD-WAN is a network that uses software to define the routing of data. This type of network provides many benefits over traditional networks, including increased speed, flexibility, and reliability.
How SD-WAN Works
With many businesses moving data and applications to the cloud, they need a way to connect their on-premises networks. As SD-WAN continues to evolve as advanced technology, businesses need to make an informed decision about how it fits into their organization's network environment.
SD-WAN provides companies with this option by using cloud-based software instead of a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) network pieced together by physical network locations, fiber connections to hyperscalers for stability and control, and a VPN connection to the end-user.
With the increase in Edge networking devices and internet of things (IoT) devices, the need for more bandwidth will only grow. SD-WAN can aggregate multiple WAN links and provide the bandwidth needed for these devices. In addition, SD-WAN provides many features that are not available with traditional WANs, such as:
- Quality of Service (QoS): The ability to prioritize traffic based on business needs
- Security: Built-in security features that protect data in transit
- Segmentation: The ability to segment traffic for better performance
- Analytics: Detailed reports that provide insights into network performance
SD-WAN uses software to define the routing of data through a network using a virtual overlay rather than a dedicated circuit. This type of network differs from traditional networks because it uses multiple paths for data.
The Real Power of SD-WAN
For small businesses and branch offices, companies can use SD-WAN to connect directly to the cloud, bypassing the need for a costly MPLS circuit. Conversely, larger enterprises can use SD-WAN with MPLS circuits to provide a hybrid solution that offers the best of both worlds.
Additionally, because SD-WAN is software-defined, companies can easily implement it without disrupting their existing infrastructure. To be transparent, SD-WAN can provide benefits like:
- Improved Performance: Provide a high-quality experience for users by using monitors that constantly seek the quickest, the most reliable path for internet traffic. By paying attention to latency, jitter, packet loss, and bandwidth utilization, SD-WAN can automatically reroute traffic if any elements fall below an acceptable threshold.
- Better Security: Enables you to move beyond disparate branch locations and scales security across your organization. Unlike traditional WAN solutions, which distribute security among several vendor devices at each branch location, SD-WAN combines all functions into a single device.
SD-WAN can manage and configure all locations from a single, central platform, which benefits companies who want to expand their customer base or grow their operations into new areas.
They can manage the entire network from a single device while ensuring that each branch has the same level of security and performance. In addition, the flexibility of SD-WAN lets them get their feet wet and experiment with cloud-based firewall solutions for some of their traffic. Ultimately, you can judge how secure your SD-WAN is by determining:
- How easily can an enterprise manage a combination of local, cloud, and security devices based on each application's needs?
- Does the solution centrally manage access control policies and allow segmentation of network traffic by business unit, geography, or other criteria?
- What type of visibility and control does the enterprise have over internet traffic?
- Does the solution offer a high-quality user experience for mission-critical applications?
The answers to these questions will also help users understand how their business can leverage the flexibility of SD-WAN to create a unique security posture for their enterprise.
All SD-WAN solutions share one common goal: to provide a more efficient and cost-effective way to connect to the cloud.
As a result, there are three general types of SD-WAN solutions:
- Internet-based SD-WAN: Works best for branch offices that want to connect directly to the internet. It is typically easy to set up and manage and doesn't require much technical expertise. However, it may not be able to provide the same level of performance or security as other SD-WAN solutions.
- Telco or Managed Service Provider (MSP) Service SD-WAN: The customer pays a provider to install and manage the network and any required appliances. The SD-WAN is a value-added service that often comes with a service level agreement (SLA) and uses the same hardware for internet SD-WANs.
- Managed SD-WAN As a Service: Also known as cloud-first WAN, it directly connects an enterprise's data center to the cloud. The service offers the same benefits as other solutions, like the security and reliability of a private network.
The Future of SD-WAN
It's unclear when the next breakthrough technology will be, but SD-WAN is moving toward a multi-cloud future. In the end, enterprises can connect to the cloud using various protocols and technologies.
End-users will enjoy the performance, reliability, security, economy, and scalability they need and demand. Enterprises that adopt SD-WAN will be well-positioned to take advantage of these innovations and enjoy a competitive edge in the market.