How do you know if SD WAN will be right for your company?

Is SD WAN right for your company? Since entering the scene as a relatively unknown technology a few short years ago, SD WAN has become an IT solution popular with businesses across the globe.

While there’s plenty of great information out there about what SD WAN can do for your business because it’s so young there’s also a lot of exaggerations and misinformation – and it’s not always easy to separate the truth from the lies.

That’s why we’re here to clarify what SD WAN can really offer your business and whether it’s the right investment for your company.

What is SD WAN?

To understand what SD WAN is, we can compare it against a more traditional WAN.

Basically, pretty much every business with multiple locations will have a WAN in some form. At its most simple, a WAN is a series of locations that all branch off from the same central IT provision. This hub can then provide application access to any location on the network.

These branches typically have their own dedicated internet connection that is configured to work as part of a wider virtual private network (VPN). This gives the network greater security when connected to the wider internet, protecting data that passes through.

In addition to holding all of the services and applications for the network, the hub location will also typically be where the IT team operates from. But the question is is SD WAN right for your company?

How Is SD WAN Different From Traditional WANs?

So, SD WAN doesn’t actually change any of what we just told you about WANs! Instead, it’s an overlay that can be placed onto your existing WAN, connecting to each of your network devices and providing an extra layer of control that can be remotely accessed from anywhere on the network.

Because SD WAN exists as a tool to unify your network, it means that the additional controls you gain can be accessed from a singular interface compatible with every device – from a business perspective, this can be extremely beneficial.

But it isn’t all about this extra level of control. Within a network, your devices will be using a variety of languages to communicate – for instance, data sent over a traditional wired connection will be handled in a different way to data sent across a wireless connection. SD WAN can also function to virtualize this language, allowing different connections to be used together.

For example, if you want to connect one location using a 4G router, and another with a VPN-protected internet circuit, SD WAN can make this a reality.

You can see how this becomes useful from a business point of view, allowing for much more flexibility in network design, especially when it comes to getting new sites online.

What benefits could SD WAN bring to your business?

Now that we’ve gone over how SD WAN differs from traditional tech from an IT point of view, it’s time to delve into the SD WAN business benefits for your company. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how advanced the technology is if you can’t make it work for your company!

Getting new sites up and running

As we discussed earlier, one of the major benefits of SD WAN is its ability to let you control your systems with one unified language, and this can be particularly useful when you’re getting new sites up and running.

There are actually two benefits here: as well as ‘getting to grips’ with devices that are physically miles away, you can also remove the problem of language barriers between connection types. Therefore, if it’ll be more efficient to provide a site with a 4G router than to wait on a different internet connection, SD WAN will allow for this, even if you’re utilizing traditional circuits elsewhere in your network.

SD WAN can’t solve all your problems in this area, though, as connection type compatibility is only one small part of provisioning a new site. You’ll need to make sure that someone is at the location ensuring that all of the equipment is in place and plugged in – if not, then your fancy SD WAN system will have nothing to work with.

If you can do this, though, then your IT team can work on configuring everything remotely, likely saving you time even if it isn’t a completely magical solution.

Quick class of service adjustments

If you rely on certain applications in your day-to-day operations, as many businesses nowadays do, then SD WAN could prove much more useful than a traditional WAN system. This is because it comes with a pathway control system, meaning that your highest priority data can get across your network quickly even if there’s heavy traffic taking up space elsewhere.

Rather than making adjustments on each device, SD WAN lets you roll out Class of Service (or COS) preferences quickly and simply across your entire network. This means that on-the-fly tweaks are easily done – ideal if you work in an ever-changing landscape.

But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some limitations with SD WAN in this regard. You shouldn’t expect the level of functionality that an MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) system can provide. While MPLS can allow data to be micromanaged from each application, SD WAN can’t provide quite this level of detailed control yet.

Central security provisions

Similar to how provisions like applications, data, etc. can be delivered from a single hub location, security can also be provided across your network from this same central point if you’re utilizing an SD WAN system. Often, a combination of SD WAN networking and security is referred to as ‘SASE’ – or ‘Secure Access Service Edge’.

Data security is more important now than it has ever been, and it will only become more and more important as our reliance on technology continues to grow. Keeping all of your provisions in one location that can allow you to monitor network security is a great way to improve the safety of your network.

In previous years, network security has been provided in the form of a firewall that provides dedicated protection to each physical location. Because SD WAN lets you roll out any app to any location in the network, your security provisions can be held centrally as well.

You’ll need to speak to a provider who can design a security solution for you if this sounds like an attractive option, but if you go down this route, you’ll most likely discover that it becomes much easier to manage than having separate provisions at each site – and usually, simpler management means more robust security.

Conclusion

You’ve heard about SD WAN and you want to know if it will be right for your company. That’s a great question! The answer is that it depends on what your business needs are, but the good news is that we can help you figure out which one of our products might work best for you.

We offer three different types of SD WAN solutions – each with their own benefits and drawbacks. It all comes down to how much bandwidth you need, where your data centers are located, and how many locations do you have?

The truth is, there are many benefits of using SD WAN and only some drawbacks – but they’re different for every company so we have discussed what those are and see if they apply to yours.

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