Enterprise applications are rapidly expanding into the cloud, giving more reasons for organizations to adopt complex routing solutions. Site-to-site connectivity is no longer a priority when employees can access computing and storage applications like Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Google Cloud, and Dropbox without sending traffic back to the corporate office.
However, conventional technologies like VPN and MPLS have failed to keep pace with the needs of complex wide area networks (WANs). They also add delays and degrade network performance, as everything is called from the corporate branch.
SD-WAN centers on connecting our remote sites to our core network. It can bring diverse network functions and resources into a unified platform and use the internet to reach enterprise applications hosted on the cloud.
SD-WAN is quickly being adopted as the wide area network configuration of choice across multiple IT, voice, and data networking organizations and enterprises. It provides efficient, flexible and versatile software connections. This technology offers faster, smoother networks – a much-needed asset for IT personnel and network managers all around the globe. According to the State of the WAN report published in 2016, conventional WAN has tons of latency issues and packet data loss at higher levels. In this post, we’ll highlight the meaning of SD-WAN and its essential performance benefits.
Wide area networks (WANs) were first established to host computer networking over a large geographic area. With a WAN network in place, connected computers can be far apart, allowing businesses to have a headquarters location and multiple office branches.
WANs have been around since the early days of computer networks. Over the years, modems evolved to increase connectivity speeds. But now we live in an age where remote work is common, and people use the internet on phones and tablets in addition to computers. As the world evolved, so did wide area networks. Today, software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) optimize business operations. Let’s explore the difference between traditional WAN and SD-WAN and narrow down which option is best for your business.
Traditional WAN: How Does It Work?
As we unpack the difference between traditional WAN and SD-WAN services, you will see many acronyms. Before diving in, let’s define these essential acronyms.
- LAN: “Local Area Network” is a collection of devices connected together in one physical location, such as a home, office, or building.
- VPN: “Virtual Private Network” is a network that extends across a public network and allows users to send and receive information as if their devices were directly connected to a private network.
- MPLS: “Multiprotocol Label Switching” is a telecommunications routing technique that directs data based on short path labels instead of long network addresses to speed up traffic flow.
- IP Address: “Internet Protocol Address” is a unique identifying number that associates a device with its online activity.
Now, traditional WAN technology had previously been customary for voice and data networking. Traditional WANs rely on MPLS to provide consistent network traffic flow. Traditional WANs are used to connect various computer locations through multiple LANs, VPNs, and routers.
Traditional WAN works by sending IP packets through a metaphorical tunnel, which in this case is a VPN. IP packets arrive at a designated LAN, the IP headers are taken away, the payload is made unintelligible, and ultimately, private-networking features become accessible.
Traditional WAN needs to use hardware to complete its operations. Due to the physical hardware, scaling traditional WANs can be complex, as establishing supplemental office branches and remote locations require additional equipment. Businesses with conventional WAN services also frequently experience incompatible traffic explosions when attempting to mix cloud-based and hard-drive-based services.
SD-WAN: The New and Improved WAN
Traditional WAN continues to use physical hardware even as the world adapts to using cloud-based applications. Enter: SD-WAN. SD-WAN combines traditional WAN technologies like MPLS and broadband internet. However, since it is software-defined, SD-WAN connects all computer networks to a cloud-based central network to improve flexibility and control.
At its core, SD-WAN operates a network on top of an existing network. It uses pre-existing network structures to unify communication paths and optimize application performance by offloading user traffic to cloud services. Since it is curated for cloud-based operations, many popular business applications are highly compatible with SD-WAN, including:
- Office 365
- Google Drive
- Apple iCloud
- And more
SD-WAN is ideal for businesses with remote work functionalities since it can support multiple high-bandwidth intensive applications simultaneously. In the instance of network traffic, SD-WANs reroute traffic to local networks whenever possible, allowing for near-seamless service and minimal interruptions.
The 3 Main Differences Between Traditional WAN and SD-WAN
Simply put, traditional WAN connects multiple computer networks through physical hardware, while SD-WAN accomplishes the connection through the cloud. But beyond that, how do traditional and SD-WAN compare when it comes to performance? The three main differences between conventional WAN and SD-WAN appear in efficiency, security, and cost.
When you need to make improvements or changes to traditional WAN, everything needs to be done manually with hardware. Because of this, companies that want to add branch offices or allow remote work experience long, drawn-out processes that decrease efficiency.
SD-WAN provides simplified network processes by streamlining operations over the cloud. If your business wants to add offices or remote employees, you won’t run into time delays as you would with traditional WAN because no hardware is required.
With SD-WAN, traffic for high-demand software and applications gets routed through the fastest available connection. By prioritizing the most essential traffic, issues such as lagging and jittering rarely occur, allowing employees to remain efficient.
Traditional WAN has typically always been secure since it utilizes VPNs that offer security through:
However, conventional WAN connections require stringent security because a WAN connection leaves room for vulnerability where an attacker could gain access to a private network. If an office is relaxed with cybersecurity, a hacker could breach a network and access information on the business’s primary WAN. Networks become more vulnerable when mixing traditional hardware and cloud operations, which is a common occurrence with traditional WAN services.
SD-WAN often comes with built-in security services that keep your business networks safe from hackers and breaches. These integrated security features help prevent security issues like:
- Lost data
- Regulatory violations
- Legal liabilities
SD-WAN technology also allows you to easily incorporate added security features like firewall and associated threat management services.
Business owners know firsthand how seemingly small monthly costs can add up quickly. SD-WAN has been shown to reduce internet costs for businesses. This cost reduction is due to not having to spend large sums on regularly upgrading your bandwidth. SD-WAN can also run on 4G LTE and broadband internet, which is usually less expensive than the MPLS networks traditional WAN relies on.
With SD-WAN, you can utilize technology your business already has, such as a WiFi connection or ethernet. Due to this, you won’t need to pay for intensive IT involvement or new overhead costs.
Move Your Business Forward With SD-WAN
While traditional WAN services have handled wide area computer networks thus far, business operations are rapidly modernizing to cloud-based services. Because of these modern operations, SD-WAN is the preferred choice for many businesses to reap benefits such as higher security, improved efficiency, and lower costs.
If you’re ready to take your business operations to the next level, stop mixing hardware and cloud services and make the switch to SD-WAN. Integrated Communications partners with North America’s best SD-WAN providers. Contact us today, and we will perform a free network audit to determine areas of improvement in your business.
In a world where crucial businesses processes need unmeasurable accessibility, something was bound to change. While software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) were first introduced in the early 2000s, these innovative systems took over a decade to take root and truly address network issues.
Let’s start with the basics. At its foundations, an SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to wide-area networking. For enterprises and companies with multiple network endpoints — this is a revolutionary step forward. What does this mean for network managers?
An SD-WAN allows for automated business policies, routing freedom, and the ability to monitor performance and usage for end-to-end visibility of the entire wide area network.
Network Management & SD-WAN: The Basics
Network Management Definition
Let’s get the boring information out of the way.
- The process of managing, operating and administering a data network through a network management system.
Today, we combine both hardware and software to collect and interpret data. Network management best practices leverage a centralized server to harness and analyze this data. Yes, this is an incredibly basic way to explain a very complex infrastructure. But it should help provide some framework for how an SD-WAN can improve your company’s network management processes.
What About SD-WAN?
Think of an SD-WAN as a virtual version of a more traditional WAN infrastructure. It allows a business to utilize existing transport services, such as MPLS, broadband, and LTE internet services, to connect users to company applications.
In its current state, SD-WAN leverages a centralized control function to direct traffic in a secure way across the WAN. SD-WAN checks all of the boxes with network management best practices as it both speeds up functionality while also lowering overall cost.
SD-WAN at a glance:
- Enables cloud-based enterprises
- Provides superior application quality of experience (QoEX)
- Empowers application-aware routing for faster service
Let’s Go Back in Time
Before fully understanding how an SD-WAN can simplify your company’s network management processes, we need to take a trip back in time.
Back in 2003, the world was a much simpler place. This was true only in general terms but also regarding network management. Companies that relied on remote offices relied on rudimentary software and applications to run operations. Most businesses needed email, a standard enterprise resource planning software (ERP), and a handful of custom applications.
In addition to these remote offices was a data center that housed a wide range of servers. To connect these two points, multiprotocol labeling switching (MPLS) offered a reliable and high-quality connection. The issue was the expense.
An MPLS connection was incredibly costly and required each office and data center to have individual routers that weren’t cheap.
As the years progressed, applications became more complex, and cloud-based software began to take hold — the amount of traffic a business relied on for everyday operations became incredibly taxing on an MPLS connection.
Sending cloud traffic that is destined for the internet back to headquarters doesn’t make much sense. By relying on this outdated method, companies suffered from:
- Added delay
- Degraded application performance
- Costly lease line bandwidth consumption
Where We’re at Today
Today, these MPLS connections are dealing with the same basic requirements of facilitating email, ERP systems, and custom applications. However, they are now overburdened with certain modernities.
From social media and SAAS programs to the countless cloud-based systems needed to compete in the current marketplace — the ways of yesteryear simply can’t keep up. The classic WAN structure that relies heavily on traditional routers was not designed for the cloud.
Now, companies need a better way to manage network processes that prevent backhauling cloud-destined traffic to and from data centers. SD-WAN systems offer:
- Improved business productivity
- Better user quality of experience
- Accelerated business initiatives
- Potential to lower costs
How SD-WAN Can Simplify Your Network Management Processes
Your users don’t care about where their apps are hosted. Whether it’s in a SAAS, data center, or the cloud — they simply expect optimal performance and fast speeds.
If you were to ask users whether their online performance is better at home versus the office — most answers would state that their home provides faster speeds and more reliable connections. That’s because when they are at home, they are accessing applications directly through the internet instead of dealing with countless traffic backups that exist in a modern business.
So, let’s answer the million-dollar question: How can an SD-WAN simplify your company’s network?
A software-defined wide area network with the right features gives companies the ability to securely utilize the internet as a way to reliable route for WAN transport, expand (and overtime even replace) MPLS services.
Internet speed, accessibility, and reliability is the catalyst for a high-performing business. It’s not rocket science. But, it doesn’t stop there. SD-WAN systems offer a solid bedrock for future innovations and changes within both cloud-based systems but also emerging technologies.
SD-WAN offers four unique benefits for businesses struggling to integrate existing applications with cloud services.
- Increased security by removing traffic vulnerabilities.
- Boosted performance by centralizing control functions.
- Lower costs by cutting down on hardware reliance and network management.
- Optimized cloud experience through automation and augmentation to organize tasks and allow for faster remote accessibility.
Take Charge of Your Company’s Network Management
As cloud-based systems continue their conquest, it’s become a necessity for businesses to make changes to their network management best practices.
For companies that rely on branch offices — an SD-WAN offers a way to lower traffic overhaul that could lead to slow speeds. This is because SD-WANs offer a way to customize the orchestration of channels and traffic. Not only will this make UX more consistent, but will also make the network far more reliable, even if you have existing MPLS connections.
Resource-intensive network administration such as installing, upgrading, and maintaining software for network performance can also be drastically reduced through SD-WAN systems.
Whether you’re looking to completely revamp your company’s network management process or want to slowly transition to an SD-WAN system, the choice is yours. At the end of the day, you’ll receive faster, more reliable performance for a fraction of the cost.
In today’s business landscape, companies need to adapt to the latest technology or risk losing valuable sales to their competition. From high-speed fiber-based internet to Contact Centers as a Service (CCaaS), businesses across the United States are improving their performance with modern, efficient services.
Another valuable service for businesses is a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). SD-WAN services optimize software and applications necessary for business operations because traditional WANs no longer hold up to today’s connectivity needs. Still on the fence about switching your business over to SD-WAN? Let’s dive into SD-WAN and its four significant benefits.
What Is SD-WAN?
Business SD-WAN solutions are essential for optimizing online traffic. SD-WAN services move traffic away from slow, hardware-based storage solutions on traditional wide area networks (WANs) to the preferred method of storage: the cloud. “The cloud” refers to servers that are accessed over the internet rather than computer hard drives. Software and databases can run through the cloud, which frees up storage space, and ultimately allows processes to run smoother and faster.
Why Don’t Traditional WAN Systems Work Anymore?
Original WAN systems work by hosting servers at a data center and connecting additional users to the original server. An example of this is a traditional internet router you may have in your home. Older WAN systems were not designed to accommodate modern cloud traffic.
Therefore, WAN systems often experience backhauls because they can’t meet today’s traffic and data demands. These backhauls lead to delays, lost productivity, and poor user experience.
As businesses continue to adopt software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on multiple clouds, companies need to switch to SD-WAN to provide high-quality user experiences.
If businesses keep their traditional WAN services, they will experience an incompatible traffic explosion when they mix cloud-based services and hard-drive-based services. This traffic incompatibility results in:
- Poor user experience
- Decreased employee productivity
- Rising WAN expenses
- Increased security threats
- Unpredictable application performance
That’s where SD-WAN comes in. Since SD-WAN systems are optimized for the cloud, businesses no longer have to deal with frustrating backhauls and poor application performances. SD-WAN allows enterprises to securely connect users to applications by utilizing any combination of transport services, including:
- Long-Term Evolution (LTE)
- Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)
- Broadband internet
4 Major SD-WAN Benefits for Business
SD-WAN benefits are plentiful, so it’s easy to understand why so many businesses are making the switch. SD-WAN is the answer to all of the issues and difficulties businesses experience when they try to mix cloud services and traditional WAN.
SD-WAN services can be set up quickly, and your business will immediately see the benefits roll in. SD-WAN offers a multitude of advantages for businesses, but the four significant benefits that attract business owners are:
1. Increased Security
When businesses mix traditional data centers and cloud operations, they experience security concerns. The two different systems are not compatible, so data becomes vulnerable when traffic moves across systems. As more and more software and data exist on the cloud, protecting traffic for business-critical operations is vital.
One of the best perks of SD-WAN is that it comes with built-in security. Integrated security features help prevent things such as:
- Lost data
- Legal liabilities
- Regulatory violations
Customers and clients can rest at ease knowing their private information is secure in the cloud with SD-WAN services. Integrated threat protection features are enforced at the right time and place, so businesses can catch security breaches before they happen.
2. Improved Performance
SD-WAN simplifies the management of networking services for small businesses. Simplifying operations from a central portal results in ease of performance. SD-WAN can even be configured to prioritize critical traffic and real-time services such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
Traffic for high-demand applications gets routed through the fastest connection. Prioritizing the most critical traffic allows SD-WAN networks to reduce standard performance issues such as lagging and jittering.
With SD-WAN, fast networks are highly available and predictable, so businesses can rely on consistent performance when it matters most.
3. Lower Costs
One of the main reasons businesses switch to SD-WAN is because of how cost-effective it is. Since SD-WAN services utilize technology that you already have, such as ethernet or WiFi, your business doesn’t need to spend money on complicated new equipment or IT services.
Essentially, SD-WAN helps you get the highest performance out of the connectivity you already have, so there is no need to pay for extreme IT involvement or new overhead costs. SD-WAN solutions only use the circuits they need to get the job done.
SD-WAN leverages low-cost local internet access, reduces unnecessary traffic, and provides direct cloud access. The automated management feature on SD-WAN systems removes the need for network engineers to make system changes and reduces the effort needed to maintain a network. All of these modern functions reduce usage and labor costs.
4. Optimized Cloud Experience
Businesses and the general public are utilizing cloud storage more and more each day. The average person who used to store digital photos and documents on computer hard drives now can easily access them through cloud applications such as:
- Google Photos
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Google Drive
- Apple iCloud
- And more
SD-WAN is continually being revamped to provide optimized connectivity over the cloud. SD-WAN is appealing because it dramatically simplifies cloud connectivity compared to traditional WAN services. It can automate simple tasks and organize complex tasks in the most efficient way.
Gone are the days of needing to be connected to a centralized data center. With SD-WAN for business, employees can access cloud applications remotely to be productive from any location.
Optimize Your Business With SD-WAN Today
As you can tell, there are numerous reasons why businesses across the country are switching from traditional WAN services to SD-WAN. Don’t let your competition get ahead. Instead, take advantage of cost-effective SD-WAN services that will increase your security and performance.
At Integrated Communications, we partner with the most trusted SD-WAN providers in North America. Are you ready to make the switch? Contact us today to set up a free telecommunications audit. We will assess your company’s performance and help you determine the best path forward for your business network.