You may have heard the term ‘SD WAN’ get thrown around by those involved in the IT world – while it was only utilised by a handful of businesses just a few years ago, it’s now revolutionising IT infrastructures all over the globe.
Although lots of the information on the internet regarding SD WAN is helpful and realistic, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype, with many insisting that it’s essential if you want to keep your company afloat!
That’s why we’re here to look at the truth about what SD WAN can really provide for your business, in addition to some myths that the technology can’t currently live up to.
What Is SD WAN?
Before we get into the finer details, it’s useful to outline what an SD WAN system can do for your existing IT infrastructure.
Virtually every business with multiple locations has a WAN (or Wide Area Network) in some form. At its core, a WAN is just a series of locations that branch off from one centralised IT provision which typically provides application access to the other sites. These other sites tend to have their own dedicated internet connection which can then be configured into a dedicated Virtual Private Network (or VPN). This means that the business has a secure network, even over the wider internet.
In addition to being the main hub for a business’s applications and services, the main HQ location will also be where the members of the IT team are based.
The Unifying Power of SD WAN
By implementing an SD WAN system, you aren’t actually changing anything about how your WAN functions at its core – rather, you’re able to control it in a more efficient and innovative way. Instead of replacing your network, SD WAN is used as an overlay that helps you manage how your devices connect to one another.
The result is massively increased unification; by bringing together all of your devices under the same centralised control, you’re also able to utilize the same central interface to allow control across the whole network.
Although this is important from a business perspective, control it isn’t the only benefit that SD WAN has to offer. Devices use a broad range of different languages when they communicate over your network – data sent over a traditional wired connection is handled differently from data sent through a wireless cellular connection, for instance. SD WAN works to virtualize this language, meaning that different connections can be used together, even if they’re typically handled in totally different ways.
When you consider the new level of flexibility in network design that this can provide, you can see how revolutionary the introduction of this technology is proving to be for businesses.
Benefits Of An SD WAN System
Now that we’ve established how SD WAN works from a technological perspective, we’ll look at how this can benefit you from a business point of view – at the end of the day, technology can be incredibly advanced, but if you aren’t implementing it in a way that suits your business, you may as well not know about it!
Getting New Sites Up And Running
Because an SD WAN system allows you to control all of your device connections under the same, unifying language, getting new sites up and running can be far quicker and easier than ever before.
There are two distinct benefits here: in addition to gaining access to devices that are physically miles away from you, you can also remove any language barriers between connection types. For example, it might be faster to get a site going by using a series of 4G SIMs to provide a connection – with SD WAN, you can do this even if you’re mixing in traditional circuits and broadband connections somewhere else.
But this is only one side of getting a new site started – while eliminating the issue of connection types is helpful, the problem of getting equipment plugged in at the new location remains. While there isn’t a magic solution here, if you can get somebody to fo this, the IT team can take it from there, meaning that you’ll still most likely save time.
Class Of Service Adjustments
If you use applications on a daily basis that are vital to your business, then you might find SD WAN especially useful. Essentially, an SD WAN system also includes a pathway control system – this means that your highest priority traffic can get across your network even if there’s congestion from another application. With SD WAN, you can quickly roll out these class of service (or CoS) preferences, rather than having to make changes with each individual device.
This means that quick and easy CoS adjustments are much more accessible, vital for businesses that have an ever-changing landscape.
But unfortunately, there are still some limitations here; although these CoS adjustments are useful, they aren’t up to the level that something like an MPLS system can provide. While MPLS can allow you to micromanage the data from each device or user, SD WAN doesn’t provide quite that level of detail yet – though that could change one day.
Centralizing Network Security
In addition to the centralised support and maintenance that SD WAN can provide your network, it can also allow for security to be rolled out over your network from one location.
Everyone knows the importance of data security nowadays and having a single central provision that protects your network and maintains your security is invaluable.
You may know that network security typically comes in the form of a firewall for each physical location. Because SD WAN allows a business to roll out any application to a range of different sites, your security provisions can also be held centrally. You’ll need to find a provider who can design a security solution that works with your network, but once you do, you’ll find that keeping track of security is much more straightforward than having individual measures for every location.
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