SD-WAN is a lot of different things to different people and partners. So – what is it and how did it evolve? Why aren’t all SD-WANs equal, and what should you consider before you choose? What are the benefits? Read on for a quick introduction to all things SD-WAN.
SD-WAN developed and deployed by most vendors follows proprietary models and will do so for many years to come. What has evolved and will help break down vendor lock-in solutions is the ability to support Network Functional Virtualization (NFV) on generic x86 hardware. This has led to a number of innovative approaches:
SD-WAN by most vendors differs greatly and not all vendors are equal. Many vendors fail to deliver beyond Active/Active paths to make the transition to bonded services. Bonding allows elevated performance while still maintaining critical QOS criteria.
The selection of SD-WAN should be based on:
MPLS bandwidth is expensive and it can take weeks or months to provision a new MPLS link, compared to days with SD-WAN. Both in cost of operation and in lost business opportunity, MPLS is inferior to SD-WAN. The benefit should be thought of as delivering connectivity in a network solution and reducing higher carrier priced services for stitched up services.
MPLS is very effective at routing traffic between two static locations, but the growth of the cloud and cloud native services makes this less useful to businesses. SD-WAN’s policy-based routing allows traffic to be optimally sent through the network based on the needs of the application and connected services running over the links.
SD-WAN provides much more agile networking than MPLS. With SD-WAN, the network layer is abstracted away from the applications, allowing the use of a variety of different transport mechanisms throughout the WAN. Multiple applications can be run over the top of network connections and all the bandwidth is used and managed as needed at the application layer.
With MPLS, an organisation may need to deploy a variety of standalone appliances to manage WAN optimisation and security. With SD-WAN, these operations can be centralised, allowing organisations to manage growing networks.
Finally, SD-WAN can provide dramatic redundancy and availability improvements over MPLS. With MPLS, adding redundant links means adding more dedicated links and is expensive. SD-WAN can route traffic over different transport mechanisms at different costs in the case of additional demand or on failover during an outage.