The Evolution of SD-WAN

SD-WAN is by no means a commodity product just yet. But, it's not a long way off.

Rob Stevens


SD-WAN is very much in right now. Every IT manager and their dog is jumping at the chance to get their hands on SD-WAN, it seems. This is a good thing. This is a great thing. But, before investing in SD-WAN, it’s important not to go in blind. Firstly, you must understand fully what SD-WAN is and how we got here. Only once you’ve done this should you consider getting your wallet out.

What is SD-WAN?

Before trying to learn what SD-WAN is, you need to ensure you full appreciate the complexities of WAN. WANs (Wide Area Networks) are data networks that connect computers or devices over a set area. Think of your office, running on the same network as your colleagues in another office and perhaps the offshore office too. This is a good example of a WAN.

As well as keeping everyone connected, WANs are used by businesses to exchange data. This could be anything from file sharing or syncing a CRM to collaborating via cloud services such as Unified Comms.

The advantages of WAN include privacy, cost reduction through centralisation and increased bandwidth. On the face of it, it’s hard to discount implementing a WAN.

SD-WAN is taking a WAN and making the network control cloud based, using software. Hence, we get the name software defined WAN.


Traditional WAN is dependent on data centres. Without cloud access, traffic is back hauled through data centres. Rather than being deployed direct from a cloud provider, your WAN traffic isn’t taking the optimal route, resulting in degraded performance. Moving to SD-WAN removes the reliance on a data centre and lets your WAN run at the top of its game. Furthermore, SD-WAN is constantly monitoring packet loss, jitter and latency and doing something about it.

Each time you see a change in traffic, you currently have to manually make a change to your network. With the software doing the work for you in SD-WAN, you can carry on with your day job as unpredictable spikes are looked after in the cloud.

Being fully cloud and software based, your WAN no longer requires hardware as a pre-requisite. This means no more upfront costs for one-off equipment or maintenance of legacy kit.

As with most, if not all, cloud based services, SD-WAN adds further reliability and security aspects to your WAN. By reducing latency and jitter, outages are prevented so critical apps like CRM and Unified Comms continue to run at peak performance.

Evolution from WAN to SD-WAN

This evolution is no doubt being driven by the adoption and trust in cloud computing. SD-WAN advantages reflect the generic advantages of cloud computing.

Initially, users demanded more bandwidth for business critical apps and IT had to react. The remedy for this was either investment in expensive high-grade internet connections or pairing what you were using (MPLS, WAN, etc) with your backup for extra bandwidth. There are glaringly obvious risks to using your backup for day-to-day use. This saw the introduction of SD-WAN and SD-WAN specific vendors. As businesses shifted to As-a-Service and cloud models, an obvious market was born.

SD-WAN is by no means a commodity product just yet. But, it’s not a long way off. As VPNs disappear overnight and cloud services continue to shape the office of the future, software defined anything will become software defined everything.

What this means for users today

Whilst IT managers battle with bandwidth and connectivity issues, SD-WAN is welcome news for both IT departments and every other user in your business.

IT staff will get back so much precious time in their day to invest in improving other aspects of your business, instead of fighting fires and keeping everybody appeased. As a result of this, and the added benefits of SD-WAN, users will get the sought-after seamless experience they desire from the systems they so rely on.

To find out more about your SD-WAN options, visit our connectivity page or talk with us on 0191 5111 000.

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