Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is the application of software-based network technologies to WAN connections to more effectively route all network traffic between headquarters or data centers, remote and branch offices, and the cloud.
More simply, it is the method of leveraging the benefits of the cloud, the bandwidth of broadband and existing enterprise-wide network infrastructure to more efficiently and cost effectively transmit media (data, video, voice) and quickly access cloud applications from every location in the network.
SD-WAN dynamically utilizes multiple available connections (MPLS, broadband, LTE) to find the optimal delivery path for traffic across the entire network, shaping the bandwidth as needed to eliminate jitter and dropped data packets, thereby delivering an optimal user experience regardless of location.
The more sophisticated solutions will first attempt to dynamically steer traffic to the best available link and if the available links show any transmission issues, they will immediately apply on-demand remediation to the link to ensure performance of the high priority applications.
Why is it Changing the Network Game?
Traditionally, enterprises utilized dedicated and private, but bandwidth constrained, and expensive MPLS networks for communications between branch offices, to/from headquarter locations, and to access applications and data housed in data centers. Broadband was only considered acceptable as a back-up due to unreliable performance and security concerns. Then cloud applications (such as SalesForce, Office365, WebEx, etc.) entered the picture and as enterprises moved to utilizing these on a day-to-day basis, MPLS alone was inadequate from an architecture or bandwidth perspective, especially for cloud and real-time applications. Enterprises needed a method of allowing each enterprise location to quickly, with business grade performance, and continuous uptime, access:
1. Every other location in the network
2. Data center-located applications and data
3. All cloud applications
Isn’t SD-WAN really SDN?
SDN is an architecture, whereas SD-WAN is a technology that can be purchased. SD WAN is built on the foundational concepts of SDN.
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