If you’re running an IT network as part of your business, then introducing SD WAN can potentially bring a whole range of benefits, and even revolutionise how business networks work in the future.
You might have heard of SD WANs before, in particular about their fantastic ability to provide greater control of your network without the need to be fully hands on. However, while that’s understandably exciting, there’s a lot of false information out there that twists the truth in an effort to drive enquiries and sales.
With this in mind, we’ve put together some information that will help you look at the different benefits the technology can provide, and make it clear what SD WAN can really do for your company – and what it can’t!
What does SD WAN mean?
If you want to understand what ‘SD WAN’ means on a basic level, it’s a good idea to understand what the individual letters of the acronym actually mean themselves. WAN stands for ‘Wide Area Network’, and it’s likely that you already work with one as a part of your business. This basically refers to devices that are connected over a distance – whether that means you have another worker down the street at home, or another office in a different continent, you have a WAN.
So how does the SD part come into play? SD stands for ‘Software Defined’ – in short, this indicates that the SD WAN system isn’t an actual physical device, but a software overlay that you can use to control your existing WAN.
You’ll actually have a control system of sorts already with your existing WAN, but these tend to require you to get physically hands on with your devices to adjust it. By using an SD WAN, you can access a control system from any location connected to your WAN, and use it to adjust a huge range of settings, from how network traffic is handled to physical setup elements.
Why should I use an SD WAN system?
Because SD WAN systems can be used with essentially every networkable device you can think of, it offers a high level of control for your whole network that can be accessed from anywhere in the world through the internet.
This means that your physical location is irrelevant; you could be a thousand miles away from your network and still be able to ensure it’s running exactly as it needs to, and that your team are getting the best out of it.
Could I replace my MPLS system with SD WAN?
Because an SD WAN system can give you such a brilliant level of control of your network, many companies who are already paying a huge amount for up to date tech are hoping that SD WAN could potentially replace the expensive MPLS systems that have been used in the past to make sure you’re getting the best possible performance from your network.
Sadly, this can’t be done just yet, as MPLS systems integrate with your network rather than simply functioning as an overlay like SD WAN systems.
The difference lies in the fact that MPLS route your traffic on an intelligent, dynamic basis, where an SD WAN system just gives you control of the devices. However, this does mean that the two can work effectively hand in hand.
Can SD WAN help with setting up new sites quickly?
One fantastic benefit that can come out of using an SD WAN is the ability to get new sites up and running in record time. If you have someone on hand to physically plug the devices at your new site into an existing network connection, then this is certainly possible. However, these two things won’t always be possible, particularly the live internet circuit being already functioning.
Because the time that internet circuit delivery takes is the main factor in slowing down the provisioning of new locations, you’ll likely be at the mercy of your internet connection provider, no matter how well you’ve planned in advance. But if you’ve managed to plan ahead and are currently opening your doors to an online location, you could definitely get a notable boost by using an SD WAN, especially compared to a situation where you need to physically be there.
Can SD WAN help my application use?
An SD WAN system can really start to shine if you look into the advantages of Software as a Service applications. Using your management portal gives you the ability to check on performance across the entire network, letting you make sure that each location is able to access your applications with the same priority and speed.
Many mission-critical real-time applications are now sold as a service rather than a one off purchase of a product – networking issues at one location could see some problematic customer service issues for end users. If you make sure that each location is working at the same speed, you can see an enormous boost to productivity levels – and consequently, a boost to customer satisfaction too.
What more can SD WAN offer my company?
This broad overview of what an SD WAN system can do for you has made clear some of the key benefits, but it’s important to look into SD WAN at a far deeper level (based on your IT network infrastructure as well as the applications and process you use to keep it running) if you’re seriously considering it for your own business.
Every business is unique, so the benefits of an SD WAN system depend upon the current managing and maintenance of your network. For instance, if you’re currently working with an MSP (managed service provider) that already monitors and adjusts your network performance, an SD WAN could be unnecessary for the moment. But alternatively, if your IT team is too small or busy to keep on top of constant network monitoring, giving them the power to maintain everything from one SD WAN portal could be immeasurably helpful for your business’s network.