Simply put, a Wide Area Network (WAN) is a communications network that allows smaller Local Area Networks (LANs) to communicate with each other. The internet itself could be considered a WAN.WANs can operate across any distance. They can be connected using fiber optics, Virtual Private Network, or simply over the internet, depending on speed, distance, and security needs.
As corporate IT infrastructure has migrated toward more virtualization and cloud-based services, traditional WANs, which focus on connectivity, are being replaced with software-defined WAN (SD-WANs), which focus on applications. Forrester estimated last year that some 90% of IT leaders are considering SD-WAN to address their WAN problems. SD-WAN is a game-changing technology that can deliver a real return on your investment, and a high-quality Managed Service Provider (MSP) can help you evaluate your options.
SD-WANs are more flexible and are much better suited to managing modern networks. They can help you:
- Improve performance using multiple network paths and faster broadband connections
- Decrease manual configuration steps
- Replace expensive, purpose-built equipment with commodity hardware
- Lower costs by reducing multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections, which are expensive to operate and require carrier maintenance
SD-WANs offer higher performance visibility because the entire process is accessible to IT staff. Since intelligent control is fundamental to the SD experience, functions such as policy-based administration, prioritized network traffic, optimized routing tables, and more can be controlled from sophisticated dashboards, allowing networks to be optimized in real time. Standard templates and error checking can help you prevent configuration errors. In the event of a configuration problem, SD-WANs can also easily be rolled back to a functional iteration.
A few of the other major benefits of SD-WAN include:
Path Selection or Path Control drives traffic to network links based on application priority and network availability. If a high-performance link fails, traffic is quickly redirected.
Quality SD-WAN solutions should allow your IT staff to set up new branches remotely and ship equipment that is ready to autodiscover and literally “plug and play.”
Your admins should be able to quickly and easily configure your SD-WAN based on your business priorities and policies, particularly performance and security. It should be easy to send video over high-capacity circuits, send software updates over the internet, or use secure VPNs for certain business traffic.
SD-WAN routing can allow IT leaders to deliver value-adding network services to enhance application performance.
Bonus Tip: SD-WAN is not without its challenges, and a high-quality MSP, like Vology, can help you understand your options and minimize your risk. For example, replacing existing switches with hardware that enables SD-WAN can be expensive. Whether you partner with a hardware vendor or a legacy MPLS provider, the cost of selecting the wrong vendor and infrastructure can be significant.