While calling any particular technology “revolutionary” is almost a surefire way to guarantee it will be largely ignored, the word isn’t hyperbole when it comes to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). While the individual components of SD-WAN aren’t new, the ways they’re being used to change network infrastructure are unprecedented.
In many ways, SD-WAN and cloud solutions have emerged together in a sort of symbiotic relationship. Cloud applications have complicated networking, creating demand for a software-centric networking approach. Likewise, the introduction of a networking solution that prioritizes traffic and expands bandwidth access allows for increased cloud adoption.
Before cloud technology demanded a solution like SD-WAN, the approach to network infrastructure had been unchanged for decades. Users were at the mercy of the phone company, utilizing the footprint, core network and last-mile delivery, as well as their specific network technologies. In all aspects, you were locked in with a specific provider.
How SD-WAN Is Changing Everything: After a history of always being at the mercy of carriers, SD-WAN offers a solution that’s not carrier-centric. Its benefits are most clearly exhibited when operating in a multi-carrier and multi-access environment. SD-WAN provides the user with the same level of control no matter what the underlying carrier is or what technology it is utilizing.
The revolutionary part comes in where the SD-WAN solution is used to control the mix of carriers and access technologies. They gain control over the network management tools they want to use.
The Benefits SD-WAN Introduces: Once your enterprise is utilizing SD-WAN, you can determine which pathways the network will access for different kinds of transmissions, taking advantage of everything from multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to 4G LTE to low-cost fiber internet from a variety of providers. When the enterprise is freed from lock-in with a specific carrier, prices inevitably decrease.
While savings is always a benefit, it’s not the main advantage an enterprise should consider when evaluating whether to implement SD-WAN. SD-WAN offers an easy on-ramp for making agile decisions and implementing new cloud solutions. It’s scalable, so any seasonality in your business is accommodated. It offers traffic prioritization, so you can designate your most critical traffic over your most reliable links.
SD-WAN also offers automatic failover, so if a particular pathway is likely to cause dropped packets or jitter on a video conferencing session, the network automatically routes it to the next-best pathway.
Accessing SD-WAN: If you’re interested in accessing SD-WAN, you have a couple of options. Both options are best managed with an aggregator that allows you to use national or international services from all access providers. The first option is to then add the aggregator’s SD-WAN solution to your network, giving you a single relationship to manage.
The second option is to access SD-WAN through a third-party solution. This provides a separate service from the network provider, and allows you to choose the specific services that best fit your organization. The downside is that you will quickly find that all SD-WAN solutions are not created equal and it may be difficult to evaluate the right option.
If you’re considering SD-WAN, contact us at Access Tech for assistance in leveraging the best option for your enterprise. We’ll begin by evaluating your business needs and recommend options that will support your bandwidth, performance and budgetary requirements.