Understanding SD-WAN - The Future of Networking

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) enable organizations to use less costly broadband access and wireless connections to connect offices and central data centers. This helps to improve performance and reduce costs for business operations.

SD-WAN combines overlay and underlay networks to provide flexible, efficient, and scalable networking solutions. Network teams need to understand how these two networks interact to maximize the benefits of an SD-WAN infrastructure.

Cost Savings

Cost savings from SD-WAN technology aren’t limited to network connectivity costs but include intangible benefits like increased productivity and the ability to take on additional projects. Unlike traditional networking equipment that requires expensive network links and specialized IT expertise to set up, SD-WAN can be deployed at any branch office in just minutes. And since all WAN data is prioritized across all links, performance can be improved over time and across multiple locations while cutting costs.

So, what is SD-WAN in networking? A software-defined method of administering the WAN is called SD-WAN.  Proprietary backhaul connectivity services, subpar network performance, inconsistent security posture, and policy administration are the areas that typically need improvement. All of which impede efforts to embrace low-risk cloud applications and other aspects of digital transformation.

With cloud computing becoming popular, legacy WAN architectures that depend on MPLS to backhaul all applications to the central data center create latency and impair application performance. However, an SD-WAN solution can offer a more flexible WAN, allowing users to access apps over cheap internet connections rather than costly private lines. This can significantly boost application performance, leading to higher employee productivity and lower IT staff time troubleshooting and solving connectivity issues.

SD-WAN solutions can also provide built-in resilience by using multiple links from different ISPs to ensure that data is always sent through the fastest and most reliable route possible. This helps reduce bandwidth consumption and costs while eliminating the need for expensive redundant backup circuits. Finally, a centrally managed SD-WAN can simplify IT management and speed up policy changes. This eliminates human error and allows engineering teams to focus on more critical business projects that help grow the company.


Most IT professionals are familiar with the more traditional WAN setup that sends data over multiple connections across geolocations. These networks use routers and switching to prioritize traffic. Unlike the conventional WAN, which has a single point of failure and requires manual programming to make changes, SD-WAN technology makes rerouting data to a more reliable connection simple.

In addition to reducing the time it takes for data to travel from one location to another, SD-WAN reduces costs by increasing operational bandwidth through a hybrid network that connects sites using multiple types of connections. For example, businesses can connect to their data center through MPLS while routing less sensitive information over cheaper broadband internet or 3G/4G LTE connectivity.

This enables a company to reduce reliance on costly MPLS links and increase overall performance by optimizing routing based on real-time path monitoring. This ensures business-critical applications are always routed over the best possible connections without backing up data.

The centralized management capabilities in an SD-WAN allow administrators to control configurations remotely, which reduces the need for local IT staff to visit each site physically. This is especially useful for smaller companies with limited resources. It also allows for faster deployment and provides a more straightforward framework for ongoing analysis. Lastly, SD-WAN includes security features that can help protect the information sent over the network. For example, it can encrypt the data transmitted over the internet to prevent it from being hacked while in transit.


SD-WAN technology provides greater flexibility than traditional networking approaches. For example, with conventional MPLS circuits, all traffic created at branch locations must be returned or backhauled to a central internet security point in the company’s data center. This process can significantly reduce application performance and negatively impact the user experience.

With an SD-WAN solution, this is no longer a problem. Instead, the solution can actively monitor and direct traffic on an application-by-application basis to a better-performing connection without ever backhauling it. An SD-WAN solution can also leverage any available connection type, including broadband internet or 4G LTE, for optimum performance at a much lower cost than MPLS circuits.

While essential SD-WAN solutions can steer traffic based on pre-defined rules, the best solutions provide continuous self-learning to respond to network conditions and changes. This enables them to deliver consistent application performance and QoE across all links, even in congestion or transport impairments.

In addition, business-driven SD-WAN solutions integrate security, segmentation, routing, and WAN optimization capabilities into a single platform to ensure that users can use applications regardless of location or connectivity. This is important as it allows employees to work from home, on the road, or in a remote office, all while having full access to their company’s applications and data.


With the advent of remote workers, IT teams have to work harder than ever to secure their infrastructure. Using an SD-WAN without following the proper cybersecurity protocols can lead to an unforeseen data breach that could have severe consequences for the organization.

SD-WAN technology provides several security features to help organizations secure their infrastructure and data. For example, an SD-WAN solution with centralized management can allow administrators to prioritize traffic and route data through circuits based on performance metrics. This can help ensure critical applications receive the best possible performance and minimize latency.

Another way SD-WAN can help improve security is by implementing advanced firewall functionality at the network edge. This enables IT teams to create and update policies in real-time, making it easier to respond to changes at scale. In addition, integrating AI for IT operations (AIOps) allows organizations to automate routine tasks and reduce human error.

SD-WAN technology can benefit enterprises that need excellent resiliency, agility, and bandwidth efficiency. It allows WAN branch routers to be managed from a central control function that can route traffic securely and intelligently, improving application performance across the WAN and directly to SaaS and IaaS providers. This helps reduce costs, increases productivity, and ensures a consistent user experience.