Software-defined wide area networking (or SD-WAN, for short) is a market that is growing at a frenetic pace, with the total value of the market projected to exceed $1 billion in the next couple of years. Gartner research showed that revenue from SD-WAN vendors is growing at an annual rate of 59%, with businesses across numerous industries coming to realise that it has the potential to streamline and centralise network management processes and make the network more flexible.
SD-WAN is attractive to businesses for several reasons. It can be utilised through any transport protocol, whether it’s 4G, Ethernet or Wi-Fi, enabling complete flexibility in transport. It is more secure than traditional WAN solutions, as all functions are handled through a single box and at a lower cost. It provides intelligent pathway control which steers traffic based on applications and pushes it out to every SD-WAN device on the network. Indeed, businesses can send out devices to branches in an unconfigured state and each device will automatically begin learning the traffic patterns of its destination.
SD-WAN has been dismissed in some quarters as simply another name for SDN and it’s true that they share many similarities, such as their virtualised nature, flexible connectivity and the support they offer to modern computing needs in Local Area Networks. There are some key differences between the two models, however. SD-WAN has a much broader focus than SDN, which is quite insular, and it is programmed only by the vendor, whereas SDN can be programmed by users as well.
The theory of SD-WAN sounds appetising, but what about its real-world application? The beneficiaries are numerous. Retailers can use it for providing direct Internet access at each of its locations. Companies working from temporary locations can use it for secure connectivity to the cloud and data centres. Service providers can use it for offering managed hybrid WAN services to corporate clients.
In conclusion, SD-WAN is taking traditional branch routers and compacting them into a single, solidified package that’s cheaper and more efficient for businesses. It’s high time that all IT organisations looked at implementing hybrid WAN solutions such as SD-WAN if they haven’t done so already so that they can optimise performance and work off a more efficient cost model, especially for cloud applications.
Here is an infographic from Paradyn which provides a simplified overview of SD-WAN and how it can add significant value for businesses.