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Software Define WAN

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a technology that distributes network traffic across wide area networks (WAN) that uses software-defined networking (SDN) concepts to automatically determine the most effective way to route traffic to and from branch offices and data center sites.

Most forms of SD-WAN technology create a virtual overlay that is transport-agnostic — it abstracts underlying private or public WAN connections, like MPLS, internet broadband, fiber, wireless or Long Term Evolution (LTE). Enterprises can keep their existing WAN links, while overlay SD-WAN uses the multiple tunnels to optimize bandwidth by directing WAN traffic along the best route to and from branch offices and data center sites. SD-WAN technology centralizes network control and enables agile, real-time traffic management over these links.

SD-WAN Business Drivers

Enterprise customers are demanding more flexible, open, and cloud-based WAN technologies, rather than installing proprietary or specialized WAN technology that often involves expensive, fixed circuits, or proprietary hardware.

Many of the new software-defined WAN offerings, for example, can be used to improve and secure Internet connectivity, making it more competitive with more expensive legacy WAN technologies such as T-1 or MPLS. In some cases, software-defined WAN technology uses Internet broadband connections to replace more expensive solutions. Virtualization technology can apply security and virtual private networking (VPN) technology to broadband Internet connections, making them more secure.

Software-Defined WAN also has the advantage of removing potentially expensive routing hardware by provisioning connectivity and services via the cloud. Emerging SD-WAN technology can also be more flexible. For example, because SD-WAN connectivity can be controlled through cloud software, a customer might be able to scale up or “burst” connectivity during times of peak demand.

SD-WAN benefits

SD-WAN solutions offer many benefits to meet the demands of modern enterprise networks, including:

  • Improved application performance and quality of service for remote and branch workers
  • Reduced WAN costs and scaled capacity through the use of lower-priced broadband and mobile connections
  • Increased flexibility to prioritize business-critical applications over other network traffic
  • Improved business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities that maintain connectivity even during multiple network failures
  • Increased connection security across the WAN as applications and data migrate to the cloud
  • Reduced branch networking complexity by consolidating services into an integrated WAN edge appliance and centralizing management and policy definition
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