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What Is SD-WAN? | Overview & Definition

With its ability to offer flexibility, security, and efficiency, SD-WAN stands as an essential tool in the IT infrastructure of any organization striving to optimize their operations in this digital age. This blog post aims to unravel the complexity of SD-WAN and shed light on its importance for organizations worldwide.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a revolutionary approach to managing and operating a WAN (Wide Area Network). It simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

How does SD-WAN work?

SD-WAN works by abstracting the underlying infrastructure to allow for network traffic to be securely and intelligently directed across the WAN. This means businesses can route traffic to remote locations more efficiently, without needing to rely on traditional network routing methods.

Main components of SD-WAN:

  1. Edge connectivity abstraction: This component provides a pool of network resources that can be automatically managed. It simplifies the connectivity between branch offices and data centers.
  2. WAN virtualization: This allows for more than one path in the WAN simultaneously. It leverages all network connections to their full capacity, thus ensuring no bandwidth is wasted.
  3. Centralized management: A key component, centralized management, allows for easy control and adjustments of network settings from a single location. It streamlines the process of network management.
  4. Policy-driven, software-based security protocols: These ensure the entire network is secure. They protect against threats while maintaining high performance.

Benefits of SD-WAN:

  • Increased network agility and flexibility: With SD-WAN, businesses can quickly adapt and scale their networks to meet changing business needs.
  • Improved application performance: SD-WAN optimizes network performance, resulting in faster and more reliable access to applications, both on-premises and in the cloud.
  • Cost savings: By leveraging broadband internet connections, businesses can reduce their reliance on expensive MPLS circuits.
  • Enhanced security: SD-WAN provides end-to-end encryption across the entire network. This means that even if data is intercepted, it cannot be read.

SD-WAN vs. VPN

SD-WAN

A Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) brings forth a new approach to manage networking connectivity among enterprise networks. The advantage lies in its ability to centralize network control and enable direct cloud access, thus enhancing application performance. It also provides flexibility, as it is not tied to a specific connection type. 

VPN

On the contrary, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks. It creates a secure, encrypted connection, which can be thought of as a tunnel, between an individual’s computer and a server operated by the VPN service. The data traveling inside this tunnel is undecipherable to external parties, thus adding an extra layer of security. However, VPNs do not prioritize network traffic, which can lead to performance issues.

Closing thoughts

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a powerful tool that offers a flexible, secure, and efficient way to manage and operate a WAN. As businesses continue to evolve and grow, the benefits of SD-WAN will become increasingly apparent, making it an essential component in the IT toolbox.

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