What is SD-WAN and What are the SD-WAN Advantages and Disadvantages?

What is SD-WAN and What are the SD-WAN Advantages and Disadvantages?

If you’re like most business owners, you’re always looking for new and innovative ways to help build resilience and connect sites. And if you haven’t yet considered SD-WAN technology, you may be missing out on a big opportunity. Here we’ll take a look at some of the advantages SD-WAN can offer your business, as well as some of the potential disadvantages. So, read on to learn more and see if SD-WAN is right for you.

What Is SD-WAN?

Before we get into SD WAN advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to understand the concept of SD WAN technology and how it works in practice. Don’t panic – you don’t need to be a software engineer or network architect to understand it. Instead, we’ll provide you with a simple explanation that tells you everything you need to know.

A software-defined wide area network (SD WAN) is a way of connecting and expanding networks that can cover vast geographical distances. If you have offices in London, Manchester and Paris, for example, SD WAN allows employees in all locations to access the same network (and the same applications, software and data within this network). 

With us so far? Good. Let’s go a step further…

Before SD WAN technology came along, many companies relied on WAN networks, such as MPLS. A traditional WAN network aimed to connect and expand networks over large geographical areas too, but it relied on hardware and multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to manage network traffic. As more and more users and companies use cloud-based applications, however, traditional WAN networks can struggle to offer the flexibility  and functionality that’s required for optimal performance. 

So, technology evolved to provide us with a new and updated option: the software-defined WAN. 

Instead of relying on Carrier driven hardware and MPLS, as traditional WAN networks did, SD WAN technology uses software to manage a wide-area network. This gives IT Managers a lot more control. To non-tech folks, this might seem like a relatively minor change, but it has a major impact on the way wide-area networks function, which means SD WAN technology has a wide array of benefits (as well as a few disadvantages).

Now you’ve got an understanding of what SD WAN is and how it differs from traditional WAN technology, read on to discover what this means for your business and what the pros and cons are…

SD WAN Benefits

Increased Flexibility

With SD WAN, you aren’t limited by hardware, which means there is a greater level of flexibility when it comes to creating, expanding and updating your network. Wherever your sites are located, SD WAN technology enables you to create a network that serves your needs.

Fast Setup

A company’s IT infrastructure has a direct impact on performance and profitability, which is why there’s no time to waste. While a traditional WAN could take weeks or months to launch, an SD WAN setup can be up and running  in hours or days.

High Speed Connectivity

Although an SD WAN can operate in a hybrid fashion with MPLS, it doesn’t rely solely on multi-protocol language switching for traffic management. When you compare SD WAN vs traditional MPLS, the difference in connectivity speed is one of the most important issues. In a time when fast speeds are essential, SD WAN technology can elevate your productivity with high-speed connectivity. 

Data Security

People tend to assume that SD WAN security is limited because the network management is software-based, but this isn’t the case at all. In fact, SD WAN technology uses a virtual private network (VPN) and data encryption to enhance security. With additional security features also available, companies can rely on SD WAN to deliver optimal cybersecurity. 

Simplified Management

With traditional networks, management and upgrades can be time-consuming and complex, particularly as these tasks need to be undertaken by experienced personnel. Conversely, many management tasks can be automated with SD WAN technology and operators can conduct maintenance and upgrades remotely from a central location. 

Reduced Costs

Switching to SD WAN avoids the need to purchase new hardware to upgrade your network but it also means that you won’t need to dispatch engineers to various sites to troubleshoot issues or upgrade systems or have IT staff located at numerous sites around the world. This can drastically reduce operating costs and enable you to streamline your workforce. 

Enhanced Reliability

SD WAN technology allows you to incorporate various types of connectivity, including 4G and 5G. This provides added resilience and reliability, as you will always be able to use an alternative type of connection if one lets you down. Keeping your business operational and reducing risk, SD WAN can provide companies with the reliability they need in a tech-first era.

Disadvantages of SD WAN

All types of technology can have disadvantages, and this is true of SD WAN too. One potential disadvantage is problems arising during the change-over transition, for example. While this can certainly be a risk, working with skilled providers and experienced vendors mitigates this risk and ensures a seamless transition for users and network owners. 

Similarly, relatively small errors can become a larger issue on an SD WAN network because of the software-based centralised approach. Again, this only presents a real risk if you don’t have the expert backup and support you need to avoid infrastructure errors and implement effective solutions to potential issues. 

Is SD WAN Right for Your Business?

As the world embraces cloud-based connectivity, there’s no doubt that SD WAN technology will become commonplace. Indeed, many businesses are already reaping the benefits of switching to a software-based wide area network. To learn more or to find out how our SD-WAN solution can work for your business, contact Comms365 now on 01234 865880 or email us at sales@comms365.com