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SD-WAN is an acronym for software-defined networking in a wide area network (WAN). Traditionally, multi-location offices have been interconnected using MPLS or VPN technology. These technologies, although more reliable, have been expensive to deploy and maintain.

With the availability of cheaper optic fibre based internet, NBN and 4G connections, SD-WAN is an inexpensive alternative to allow companies to build higher-performance WANs using lower-cost and commercially available internet access, enabling businesses to partially or wholly replace more expensive private WAN connection technologies such as MPLS. This is ideal for situations where non-real-time applications like emails and file sharing form bulk of the traffic between multiple offices within an organisation.

SD-WAN allows your company to make use of multiple lower-cost internet connections, often with different ISPs and a mix of technologies (optic fibre, NBN and 4G), to configure redundancy within the WAN. This in effect also means, that you are not tied into the same ISP for all your sites as would have been in the case of a MPLS alternative. SD-WAN allows flexibility of choosing the best ISP for each of your locations independently.

American marketing research firm Gartner predicted in 2015 that by the end of 2019 30% of enterprises will deploy SD-WAN technology in their branches.

SD-WAN products can be physical appliances or virtual appliances, and are placed in small remote and branch offices, larger offices, corporate data centres, and increasingly on cloud platforms. A centralised controller is used to set policies and prioritise traffic. The SD-WAN takes into account these policies and the availability of network bandwidth to route traffic. This helps ensure that application performance meets service level agreements (SLAs) and QoS.

Features of SD-WANs include resilience, security and quality of service (QoS), with flexible deployment options and simplified administration and troubleshooting.

  • Resilience - A resilient SD-WAN reduces network downtime. The technology features real time detection of outages and automatic switch over to working links
  • Quality of service - SD-WAN technology supports quality of service by having application level awareness, giving bandwidth priority to the most critical applications. This may include dynamic path selection, sending an application on a faster link, or even splitting an application between two paths to improve performance by delivering it faster
  • Security - SD-WAN communication is usually secured using IPsec, a staple of WAN security
  • Application optimisation - SD-WANs can improve application delivery using caching, storing recently accessed information in memory to speed future access
  • Deployment options - Most SD-WAN products are available as pre-configured appliances, placed at the network edge in data centres, branch offices and other remote locations. There are also virtual appliances that can work on existing network hardware, or the appliance can be deployed as a virtual appliance on the cloud in environments such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). This allows enterprises to benefit from SD-WAN services as they migrate application delivery from corporate servers to cloud based services
  • Administration and troubleshooting - Management simplicity is a key feature for SD-WANs. As with network equipment in general, GUIs are preferred to command line interface (CLI) methods of configuration and control. Other beneficial administrative features include automatic path selection, the ability to centrally configure each end appliance by pushing configuration changes out, and even a true software defined networking approach that allows all appliances and virtual appliances to be configured centrally based on application needs rather than the underlying hardware

Majestic Computer Technology has partnered with Cisco Meraki and uses their platform to deploy and manage SD-WANs. If you want to know more, please call us on 1300 441 551 for a free consultation session.

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