Software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN, has been gaining traction in the industry. Many vendors and partners have positioned SD-WAN as the “end to MPLS.” However, that myth and others have caused some confusion, and we want to help set the record straight when it comes to what SD-WAN promises customers. Here are a few top myths we would like to address.
For years, MPLS has been a foundational transport element of most enterprise WANs, but it’s expensive. Internet connections are much cheaper, but less reliable. While SD-WAN provides alternative connections when it comes to lower priority traffic, it serves as the overlaying technology while the MPLS network is one of the underlays that provide connectivity. SD-WAN’s strength is in leveraging multiple connection links, like MPLS and Internet, to intelligently route traffic, ensuring the best user experience at any given time.
SD-WAN might not be a “replacement” for MPLS, but it reduces an organization’s reliance. Some industry experts anticipate a decline in MPLS as SD-WAN technologies and vendors continue to explore the possibilities around SD-WAN solutions.
Although cost savings is the most commonly noted benefit of SD-WAN, it’s far from the only advantage. SD-WAN fundamentally changes the architecture of the WAN, shifting from a hardware-only model to a software and application-driven model. This design allows for greater intelligence, giving way to a more proactive manner of ensuring high application performance and service levels across the WAN. Increased network capacity and connectivity options also allow SD-WAN to improve the quality of high-bandwidth applications, like UCaaS and video conferencing.
Yes, cost savings may be the initial reason that enterprises look to deploy an SD-WAN solution, but in the long run, it definitely won’t be the only benefit they enjoy.
You may see some SD-WAN vendors claim that their solution can guarantee better QoS, but this claim doesn’t always hold water. Yes, SD-WAN can compensate for packet loss, latency, and jitter, but keep in mind that we’ve already determined SD-WAN is the overlay. SD-WAN indeed can detect these issues and switch to a better routing path for higher performance, but SD-WAN can only switch to a better route if one is available. If the underlying network is terrible, there just is no way of guaranteeing a better path exists.
WAN Optimization reduces bandwidth consumption by using caching, compression, and deduplication, providing more efficient use of bandwidth for TCP traffic. SD-WAN, on the other hand, deals directly with delay-sensitive and real-time traffic. While these two are certainly very different things, the truth is they are complementary services. WAN optimization can be part of an SD-WAN solution for optimum bandwidth utilization. In fact, there are vendors out there that offer an optimization component to the solution.
The SD-WAN market is booming with new vendors and technologies. Often, it can be challenging to cut through the noise and figure out what’s real and what’s not. LanYap Networks can help. Give us a call!
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