Definitive Definitions: What is SD-WAN?

Avatar for Terry TrainaBy Terry Traina|Apr 30, 2018|7:30 am CDT

The SD-WAN buzz has many excited about new advances in networking technologies, but what is SD-WAN really? What can it do for your network? And why all the SD-WAN excitement? Here’s a quick introduction.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide area network. In these WAN environments, software-defined networking architectural models or principles have been applied to turn the control layer of a network that was once all hardware into software. This simplifies WAN management and traffic routing, making provisioning less manual and more programmatic for IT managers. SD-WAN when implemented correctly delivers superior performance, scalability, and visibility.

What are the Benefits of SD-WAN?

Optimize Application Performance: The SD-WAN hype is around the ability to manage different types of network connections and maximize bandwidth across all. Instead of separate bandwidths allotted on each connection, SD-WAN allows the enterprise to combine and simultaneously use all available bandwidth across all connections, putting resources where they are needed most.

Simplify Network Scalability and Management: For enterprises with many connected locations across the globe, SD-WAN makes the network infrastructure modular and extensible so it’s fast and easy to scale up or down. It also acts as a single point of management, giving IT teams greater visibility into usage or bottlenecks and giving them the power to prioritize bandwidth allocation for their most critical business applications. The end result: enhanced network agility, performance, and control.

What’s the Difference between SD-WAN and Software-Defined Networking?

Software-defined architectural models can be applied to lots of different IT technologies. With SD-WAN it’s applied to wide area networks, but it can also be applied to virtual private networks, data centers, and networking capabilities–hence the name software-defined networking (SDN). As a more broad term, SDN can include network function virtualization as well as other capabilities.

What’s Wrong with the “Old Way” of Networking?

With legacy networks, IT teams must individually configure and reconfigure network equipment, reroute traffic, and change protocols. Everything is a manual, piece-by-piece process, increasing costs and the complexity of management. When more and more business applications are moving to the cloud, legacy networks are not positioned to support cloud-first strategies. Key challenges include:

  • Inability to utilize bandwidth effectively
  • Long deployment times for new sites
  • Application visibility is limited
  • Application performance problems are difficult to troubleshoot

How Do I Implement SD-WAN?

The first decision is whether to purchase a self-managed enterprise solution or go with a managed service provider. With in-house networking expertise, you may be comfortable with an enterprise solution you fully own and manage, but managed service providers can also implement and manage an SD-WAN solution for you.

What Makes Masergy’s SD-WAN Different?

Innovative, Software-Defined Platform

Masergy’s value starts at the core: We operate the largest independent global software-defined network and services platform in the world. Through a single network fabric that leverages software-defined networking principles, our customers can digitally transform their network architecture. With a single partnership, they can also effectively manage IT security backed by machine learning and tenured IT analysts and deploy global unified communications tools that maximize productivity for today’s global and mobile workforce. Our services are fully managed, but the customer is still in the driver’s seat with an embedded layer of intelligent analytics and control features that deliver real-time visibility, self-service provisioning, and network function virtualization capabilities.

Customizable and Flexible Hybrid Networking Solutions

Our software-defined network platform is extremely modular and extensible, making both initial customization and ongoing flexibility easy. With “customizable by design” hybrid networking solutions, each customer gets a whiteboarding session with our solutions engineers who create a hybrid networking architecture that is customized specifically for each of your locations, applications, and user groups. Once set up, the network architecture is simple to change and modify as your business needs evolve. Want to change the structure of your WAN architecture on day two and add a new site without incurring additional change fees? Want to use the customer portal to modify bandwidth on the fly? Want to proactively schedule bandwidth allocation for your data backup activities that occur on Saturdays and Sundays? No problem. It’s easy. Our customers do it every day–with and without our managed services.