There has been an explosion of interest in software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as enterprises look for ways to quickly equip new branches with network access and address security needs for a growing IT infrastructure. As SD-WAN becomes more widespread, it is easily confused with its predecessor, the still-relevant and useful software-defined networking (SDN).
SD-WAN and SDN share similarities, most notably their separation of the control plane and data plane, and they both support the implementation of additional virtual network functions.
The original intent of SDN was to meet modern computing needs of local area networks (LANs) and service provider networks. It was developed as a way to support the changing needs of data centers and networks. IT professionals like it for its central control console and the agility achieved by being able to directly program the SDN.
Many of the same core principles are true for SD-WAN, but it has its own distinguishing features:
- SD-WAN provides software-defined application routing to the WAN.
- An enterprise’s locations, spread out over a large geographic area (even on a global scale) can be easily and quickly connected using SD-WAN, connecting data centers, remote and mobile users, as well as headquarters and branch offices.
- While SDN is programmed and configured by the customer or user, SD-WAN programming is managed by the vendor, making it a simpler option for the end user.
- SD-WAN’s focus is on connecting users across a geographic span, while SDN is concentrated on the local area network.
- SD-WAN is routable through software-defined applications that can be run virtually, and SDN is enabled by network function virtualization.
SD-WAN is an application-based routing system, rather than a traditional, packet-based network routing system, which allows companies to use broadband Internet with better performance and quality, as well as at a lower cost than what they are accustomed to with multi-protocol label switching (MPLS).
SD-WAN allows for a centralized application routing governance, while improving both agility and flexibility. It allows you to easily identify which applications are traveling over the WAN and create guiding policies on how they are prioritized on the network.
Overall, SD-WAN simplifies the network management for the end user, allowing your IT professionals to focus on other areas of your technology management. It’s important, particularly if you are adding SD-WAN to an existing network structure, that you have a clear understanding of how this addition will impact WiFi, voice and video, as well as other areas.
Before choosing your network solution for a growing enterprise, talk with our team at MicroCorp. We can help you determine the best fit for your network needs and learn how SD-WAN will impact associated programs and your overall security coverage. Give us a call to talk more.