Network architecture is typically not top of mind for many organizations. Most leaders and their employees focus on IT capabilities, performance, reliability, and cost. However, network architecture has a tremendous impact on these focus areas, and SD-WAN is a type of network architecture that offers many businesses an excellent value.
What Is WAN?
WAN stands for Wide Area Network. It’s a type of network architecture that links computers and office networks together that are in separate physical locations. Each location has its own LAN (Local Area Network) that connects to the WAN.1
WANs require a great deal of expensive infrastructure to establish and maintain, such as undersea network cables and teams of technicians to service them. The WAN carrier then passes those costs to its customers, making it an expensive option.
What Is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN stands for Software-defined Wide Area Network. It offers the principle elements of a WAN—a primary network that connects local networks—but does so with software. Each location has an SD-WAN device that connects to a local network and provides encrypted tunnels for data.
SD-WAN is like a virtual WAN. It’s a cloud-based service that can be implemented “over-the-top” of any network, making it much more cost-effective than a traditional WAN.
Why Is SD-WAN Useful?
Using SD-WAN, an organization can control the data flow between any of their locations, remote employees, and customers. This enables organizations to streamline their network infrastructure to optimize cloud services and apps, enhance security, automate monitoring, and much more. Below are some of the major benefits.
It offers complete, centralized management across all locations through an SD-WAN controller. The controller has full visibility into the network, regardless of the number of locations and distances between. They can set specific policies for traffic that prioritize essential data, like VoIP packets. The management capabilities enable detailed control over performance and reduce the need for IT staff to be onsite at different locations.
Remember those undersea cables that can be involved in a traditional WAN? They are just one example of critical hardware that can fail and disrupt services—bringing operations to a screeching halt. But because SD-WAN is in the cloud, it’s based on redundant, internet-facing circuits (as opposed to private WAN circuits) that ensure virtually no downtime for critical applications. If an SD-WAN connection is disrupted, the SD-WAN device will automatically find a routing workaround according to pre-set management policies.
SD-WAN offers greater bandwidth by aggregating internet circuits and balancing traffic across them. Because it is based in the cloud, additional sites are easy to add and bandwidth can be dynamically increased as need be.
Optimized Application Performance and User Experience
With SD-WAN, an organization can prioritize traffic and bandwidth for specific applications. For example, if video conferencing is critical to a business, the application of choice can be prioritized over less important or intensive applications. If a business uses cloud services like AWS or Google, an SD-WAN may be able to connect directly to the provider for better service.
Many aspects of SD-WAN are technical in nature, but if there’s one thing to remember, it can make critical applications and cloud-based services run much better.
When Should You Consider SD-WAN? How Do You Choose Your Provider?
The answer to the first question is straightforward. If your organization has multiple locations, such as central and satellite offices, it is well worth exploring. It provides a data architecture that offers better performance and greater reliability with reduced recurring costs and capital expenses.
The answer to the second question is much more complicated. There are numerous providers and many tailor their offerings to specific industries and business niches.
Additionally, there are numerous technical concerns that need to be factored into a choice of an SD-WAN solution. Those range from internet connectivity and critical applications to network topology and underlay network needs.
Did You Know About Our SD-WAN and Connectivity Services?
Over the years, IPC Technologies has helped numerous customers implement the optimal SD-WAN setup for their needs. But today with so many businesses supporting remote and hybrid workforces and the growing popularity of the cloud, we’ve created a specific business solution for people exploring SD-WAN and Connectivity.
Check out our SD-WAN and Connectivity Service or reach out to us directly.
If it is a good fit for your business, you could potentially get far better network performance at lower costs than you’re currently paying. Don’t waste time and money—get started today.
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