What is SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN)?
The software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN or SDWAN) is a specific application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology applied to WAN connections such as broadband internet, 4G, LTE, or MPLS. It connects enterprise networks – including branch offices and data centers – over large geographic distances.
What are the drivers, roadblocks and benefits our customers are experiencing by adopting SD-WAN on their larger path toward building a software-defined network?
Some might wonder why we’ve been using the term “software-defined revolution” when talking about SD-WAN. It used to be that conversations with customers about SD-WAN centered on products. Now, however, customers are focused on the role SD-WAN can play as they make a holistic move to a software-defined network.
The basics of SD-WAN
SD-WAN involves managing the WAN routers from a controller, or creating the “brains” of the network, so that potentially thousands of routers can be managed from a central portal. In addition to simplified management, SD-WAN also provides the ability to run over any network medium (such as broadband, fiber, LTE) and any type of service provider connection (Internet, MPLS).
The key to an SD-WAN solution is that the network is easily managed from a central controller. Network administrators can now build policies and seamlessly push them to every device at once, which greatly simplifies IT management.
With SD-WAN technology, businesses can instantly realize benefits such as secure connectivity and endpoint management, transport and hardware independence, bandwidth efficiency and improved application performance, along with simplified IT operations.
Many of our customers still employ legacy service provider circuits, including T1 interfaces, which can be fairly expensive to maintain and carry relatively low bandwidth capabilities. Often this results in paying too much for too little bandwidth when it comes to business-critical services that directly impact revenue and reinforce a brand.
Software-defined networks are becoming particularly relevant in retail and healthcare, where guest Wi-Fi is now critical to the business. Retail stores and hospitals are using wireless connectivity to help strengthen brand awareness and create new experiences for customers and patients.
In addition to customer experience, organizations from every industry are implementing SD-WAN to improve workforce productivity. Many of our customers are concerned with empowering their employees to maximize their time – whether they’re working on-site or remotely. They need their workforce to be able to start working right away, without worrying about connecting to the network or how applications are going to work from a certain location. SD-WAN technology provides optimal service to employees at all times, which helps organizations achieve workforce productivity objectives.