While I’m no expert in network infrastructure, a buzzword in this space has recently caught my interest: SD-WAN.

To understand SD-WAN you must also have knowledge of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), which is how data is carried across vast distances in telecommunications networks. Think of a branch office having access to their corporate data center and communications. MPLS simplified the old way of transferring data, which involved using complex lookups of long network addresses in routing tables. MPLS instead uses network nodes to quickly send data back-and-forth. These nodes are based on short path labels which makes the process much easier. MPLS is fantastic for directing real-time traffic like voice and video across distances instantaneously. But it is also more than 20 years old, which in the tech industry is centuries. It is also very expensive to deploy and can take more than a year to install.

SD-WAN is much more cost effective and can be deployed in somewhere between several hours and a few days. SD-WAN stands for Software Defined Networking in a Wide Area Network. It works by separating the network hardware from any control mechanisms, simplifying the management and operation of a Wide-Area Network. SD-WAN is an elegant response to the trend toward software-as-a-service or (SaaS) applications. As more and more businesses appreciate the scalability and convenience of the cloud, network infrastructure has had to adapt. It isn’t a replacement for MPLS, but more like a supplement. SD-WAN works in conjunction with any connection, whether it be broadband, MPLS, or 4G.

So, the binary choice between SD-WAN or MPLS is a false one; both can be utilized to optimize your organization’s use of resources, SaaS applications, and cost restraints.

Now is the time to start considering augmenting your network with SD-WAN capabilities. This is an emerging technology that is flexible enough to gain widespread penetration and improve the quality of experience. While Cisco holds the largest share of the SD-WAN market, many vendors have also deployed SD-WAN products, including Barracuda, Citrix, Fortinet, VMWare, and more. According to NSS labs, SD-WAN infrastructure revenues were $833 million in 2017, an 83.3% increase over the previous year. It is on track to be a multi-billion-dollar industry by 2022.

SD-WAN is the future of network connectivity, but MPLS can still have value to your organization. The most important consideration in adopting the SD-WAN, is deploying it in way that supports your existing infrastructure, while preparing you for the future. To navigate through the wide-ranging product options and network decisions concerning SD-WAN, consider partnering with our IT security and infrastructure experts. We can help with selection, purchase, and deployment of an SD-WAN solution, and make sure everything is properly configured and humming along. Call 630.832.0075 or email info@peters.com.