Beginner’s Guide to SD-WAN


A Beginner's Guide to SD-WAN

SD-WAN changes the way you manage your network. It can transform your expensive and complex network into one that is much more cost-effective, secure and simpler to manage. In our Beginner’s Guide to SD-WAN, we’ll define SD-WAN, discuss the reasons you might want to deploy one, and explain the benefits you’ll experience by doing so.

What Is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a progressive approach to WAN that offers simplified management, improved application performance, greater resiliency and cost savings when compared to traditional approaches. It can replace or work with MPLS, and is delivered directly, via carriers, or via MSPs. A simple way to think about SD-WAN is it is an appliance-based solution that provides a simpler, smarter, more resilient WAN leveraging various types of connectivity.


As applications continue to migrate to the cloud, IT staff are quickly realizing that traditional WANs were never built for the cloud. What does this mean? The conventional router-centric model that backhauls traffic from the branch to headquarters, to the internet and back again, no longer makes sense.

SD-WAN Benefits for Enterprises:

  • Increase business productivity and user satisfaction
  • Enhance business agility and responsiveness
  • Improve security and reduce threats
  • Simplify branch WAN architecture
  • Reduce WAN costs by up to 90 percent

Driving Network Efficiency With Higher Performing WANs

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Benefits of SD-WAN

SD-WAN provides a number of benefits to businesses by enabling a fundamental shift from homogenous, discrete WAN connections and configuration to an architecture where heterogeneity and unified connections are established. With an SD-WAN, measurements are taken at various places in the network and over each of the available WAN links to determine which WAN path an application should use in order to provide the highest levels of availability and performance. For example, a business could introduce broadband as an additional means of connectivity in the remote office to add bandwidth capacity or to provide a faster path to the cloud or SaaS applications, and SD-WAN will automatically monitor these links and use them according to availability and performance.

In general, SD-WAN solutions provide the following benefits:


SD-WAN solutions allow businesses to leverage heterogeneous WAN transports including MPLS, broadband, LTE, and others, as a unified interconnect.


SD-WAN solutions can distribute traffic across available WAN links thereby ensuring high availability should a WAN link fail.


SD-WANs can help reduce the total cost of remote offices by reducing hardware (routers and other devices) and simplifying management, thereby reducing the overall cost.


SD-WAN solutions monitor various indicators to make near-real-time decisions on which WAN transports should be used for a given connection to ensure the best user experience.


By taking advantage of direct internet connections, SD-WAN solutions can often provide improved performance for cloud and SaaS applications by removing the reliance on backhauling traffic to the data center.


New locations can be turned on in as little as minutes with zero touch bootstrapping (bringing the device into the network) using two-factor authentication.

Is SD-WAN Right for My Business?

Are you looking to…

  • Improve application performance, particularly for cloud apps?
  • Increase bandwidth at remote or international sites?
  • Replace an expensive private network?
  • Simplify or outsource the management of your network?
  • Build resiliency into your network to guarantee uptime?
  • Decrease turn-on time for new sites?

SD-WAN vs. VPN: Reviewing the Differences

The main difference between a standard IPsec VPN and SD-WAN is based within the features of software-defined networking (SDN), upon which SD-WAN technology is based. SD-WAN consolidates options into a single platform available as hardware, virtualized or client access. Also, SD-WAN is a collection of different aspects of WAN features consolidated into a single platform providing ease of management.

VPN offers authenticated WAN security between two or more endpoints to secure headquarter and branch office communication. End-to-end VPN encryption is only a small component of overall security, as IT teams are responsible for supporting users with remote cloud-based working, partners, productivity applications and more.

Both ends of the VPN transport need to secure traffic, reduce access based on permissions, conduct WAN optimization and determine the best path. Standard VPNs normally don’t include the intelligence that can route traffic based on the best path with optimization and security. Some enterprises still need to deploy VPN services without SD-WAN functionality, an example would be for temporary office deployments or locations that have simple requirements.