Few developments in networking technology have made as big of an impact in recent years as software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). Though it is still a relatively new technology, SD-WAN has revolutionised how Australian businesses operate and connect. 

 

Here’s what you need to know about SD-WAN and how it can benefit your business. 

What is SD-WAN, and how does it differ from traditional WAN?

A traditional wide area network (WAN) connects two or more local area networks using routers and switches. WANs typically use public internet or a dedicated multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connection to connect multiple networks. With the latter, companies can have more control over their data and prioritise certain types of traffic, such as voice or video. However, traditional WANs have limitations.

For one, private WANs can be expensive to build and maintain and slow due to the distance the data travels. Plus, maintaining performance across a WAN can be problematic in the era of cloud computing because traffic is often routed through the public internet, which can be subject to congestion and security threats.

On the other hand, SD-WANs use a software-defined network (SDN) controller to manage connections between sites dynamically. This controller typically resides in the cloud and uses algorithms to determine the best traffic route according to bandwidth and latency factors. SD-WANs use various transport types to connect sites, including broadband internet, MPLS, 4G LTE, and 5G. SD-WAN devices are installed at each location and connect to the SDN controller in the cloud. From there, traffic is routed across the network according to the instructions from the controller.

What are the benefits of SD-WAN?

SD-WAN technology can provide several benefits over traditional WANs, including:

1. Performance-based routing

With SD-WAN, dynamic traffic routing is possible across the network based on performance. For instance, traffic is instantly routed over another link with more available bandwidth if one link is congested. This ensures that critical applications always have the proper resources to function correctly. 

Sophos SD-WAN, in particular, assesses your connection’s packet loss, jitter, bandwidth, and latency metrics in real-time to make optimal routing decisions. It prioritises traffic so latency-sensitive processes, such as VoIP or video conferencing, can run without interruption. 

2. Minimal disruption

The best SD-WAN services reroute traffic between transport types with zero impact on your operations. If one link goes down, your network will automatically fail to another without any manual intervention. This allows you to keep applications and operations running smoothly, even if one network has issues.

3. Increased flexibility

SD-WANs can provide more flexibility in how enterprises connect their locations since SD_WANs can use various transport types. For example, you can incrementally add SD-WAN devices to your network without having to rip out and replace your existing infrastructure. You can also take advantage of new transport options as they become available, without changing your network. This can be helpful for companies with locations in areas where certain transport types are unavailable or companies that want to use multiple transport types to create a more redundant network.

4. Centralised management

With a traditional WAN, you must establish and configure MPLS links between different sites individually. This can be time-consuming and expensive.

With SD-WAN services like Sophos Xstream, you can manage your entire network from a centralised console hosted in the cloud. Adding new locations, users, and applications to the network makes it easy. You can also quickly change network settings and roll out new features and updates to all areas simultaneously. The SD-WAN service manages all the backend complexity, so you can focus on running your business.

5. Stronger security

SD-WAN control systems make it easy to implement security policies across the network. For instance, Sophos SD-WAN allows you to set up next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention capabilities, and virtual private network tunnels with enterprise-grade encryption from a central console. In addition, SD-WAN devices can segment traffic and isolate critical applications from the rest of the network. This can reduce your exposure to cyberattacks and keep your data safe.    

6. Reduced costs

SD-WAN can reduce network costs in many ways. Firstly, since SD-WAN solutions can use various transport types, you can take advantage of lower-cost links, such as broadband internet. Secondly, SD-WAN services are typically offered as a cloud-based subscription, so there’s no need to invest in costly hardware or software. SD-WAN also reduces network complexity and the need for specialised internal system administrators. Finally, you can deploy SD-WAN devices incrementally, allowing you to start small and scale up as needed. This helps to control costs as you grow your business.

 

If you’re interested in implementing SD-WAN in your business, Empower IT can help. We are a managed IT services provider that offers expert network infrastructure design, implementation, and support services. Contact us now to see if our services suit your needs. 

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