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April 24, 2018

Uncovering The Truths About SD-WAN

There are many advantages to adopting SD-WAN (a new Software Defined overlay to Wide Area Networks), but these are often misinterpreted, says Hughes Europe's Vanessa Armstrong.

By CBR Staff Writer

Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a new concept to many, so naturally those seeking out a solid explanation of what it is and what it does will have taken to the internet to find out.

While there are various sources of information on SD-WAN, there are also many conflicting statements about what its arrival means.

First, let’s break down the concept in simple terms for those still wondering what exactly it is. A WAN is a Wide Area Network and this is the type of network used by organisations with various sites such as offices, retail units and warehouses spread out across different regions and countries. The Wide Area Network connects each of those sites, allowing the business to relay data across its whole estate.

As businesses begin to rely on more and more cloud based technologies that place additional strain on their WANs, they require a cost-effective way of controlling how each application running across the network uses the available bandwidth. SD-WAN is the new Software Defined overlay to the WAN that has been developed to centralise the way that a WAN and the bandwidths within that network are managed.

There are many advantages to adopting SD-WAN, but these are often misinterpreted or diluted as a result of the conflicting information available.

Read on to uncover the truth about these SD-WAN myths.

Myth: SD-WAN can be a complex beast

While the influx of cloud technologies being adopted by businesses is increasing the complexity of WANs, it’s not necessarily true that adopting a SD-WAN will bring further complications. Simplifying network management is the essence of SD-WAN and adopting it will provide businesses with networks that boast increased agility without increased costs. For those that value absolute centralisation and visibility, managed service offerings are key and truly remove any headaches from the equation.

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Myth: Cost savings are the only advantage 

Many believe that the only benefit of adopting an SD-WAN solution is the cost savings that it will bring. The reality is that cost efficiency is only one advantage of SD-WAN. The structuring and management of WANs is made quick and easy to manage and an effective SD-WAN will provide the business with centralised plug-and-play management. Each of those numerous connected technologies that would usually slow down the network by competing for bandwidth can be managed with one click.

Myth: SD-WAN and WAN optimisation are the same thing

Some sources claim that SD-WAN and WAN optimisation are the same concept under two different guises. The truth is that these are two different concepts with different outcomes. WAN optimisation makes more effective use of available WAN bandwidth, whereas SD-WAN intelligently manages the flow of traffic on the network’s bandwidths through its own capabilities. The confused statements about SD-WAN and WAN optimisation being the same thing could easily have stemmed from the fact that both can be used in conjunction with each other, but both are independent solutions that operate differently.

Myth: SD-WANs and Hybrid WANs are one and the same

Another common misconception is that SD-WAN and Hybrid WAN are two different names applied to the same concept. We already know that the point of SD-WAN is to simplify the management of the WAN, so what is a Hybrid WAN and how does it differ? Hybrid WAN intelligently directs the flow of data across a network, which is indeed an element of SD-WAN, however, the latter comes with the addition of centralised management, increased security and the ability to set rules for network management that are in line with the business’ own policies. A simple way to think about the differences here is to view Hybrid-WAN as the light solution compared to a premium offering.

As network demands continue to intensify, it will become increasingly apparent that SD-WAN is essential to providing dispersed businesses with a robust, secure and cost-effective network management solution that can accommodate the influx of new technologies connecting to the business network.

See also: WANdisco signs OEM with Alibaba Cloud


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