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Wondering what all the talk about SD-WAN is about?

It may sound like a term straight from science fiction, but if you have business Internet, or you’re looking for it, it’s relevant to you. And unless you’re well versed in Internet infrastructure, you may not realize how much.

So what exactly is SD-WAN and why should you pay attention?

SD-WAN stands for Software-Defined Wide Area Network. It’s the WAN architecture that empowers many modern businesses and connects their users using MPLS, LTE and broadband Internet infrastructure. But it’s different than a traditional Wide-Area Network (WAN) – and it’s those differences that can make it a more agile and effective solution for businesses today.

Let’s take a closer look to see why – starting with a comparison of traditional WANs versus SD-WANs.

What Is a WAN?

Traditional WANs route all data through a data centre, using dedicated hardware and proprietary circuits. But by routing everything through a central hub, they can create “traffic jams,” delaying data and making it difficult to keep up. Cloud platforms, in particular, can become less efficient. As businesses begin to rely more on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) applications, then, this standard WAN infrastructure can make it difficult to stay on top of business demands. The user experience can suffer and security can be challenging.

WAN also depends on extensive hardware, which means that scaling can be complex and require additional hardware to accomplish – something that can drive up costs for businesses setting up new branches or remote locations.

What Is an SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, on the other hand, relies on an overlay that’s added on top of an existing network. While it relies on pre-existing network architecture, though, it adds a centralized control component that can securely direct traffic across the WAN. As such, it intelligently chooses the best route for your data, monitoring current traffic and avoiding any delays or potential traffic jams, and routing around any current brownouts.

In doing so, an SD-WAN adds agility and efficiency, and reduces the chance of potential delays – all without the extra hardware demands. Since cloud-based services are prioritized, it makes it easier for businesses to keep up with their SaaS and IaaS needs, and by relying on infrastructure that already exists it reduces operational costs.

The Benefits of an SD-WAN

SD-WANs were designed with current business needs in mind. As such, they offer several potential benefits when compared to standard WANs:

  • Agility: SD-WANs empower your business to work faster, with better application performance and increased network performance.

  • Productivity: By adding new efficiencies and letting you move effortlessly between cloud applications, an SD-WAN enables your employees to be more productive in their work.

  • Automation: With an SD-WAN, you can add more automation and cloud-based applications to your arsenal of tools, knowing your network will be able to keep up.

  • Affordability: By decreasing routing and hardware costs, an SD-WAN allows you to reduce your overhead costs.

In other words, SD-WANs can expand the possibilities of your business – adding to your technical capabilities and the tools you can draw from, while empowering your employees to be agile in their jobs. All of that means SD-WANs might be something you want to keep an eye on as you build your business and increase its overall efficiency.

Find out more about Xplore Business’ business Internet solutions.