SD WAN – What can the tech bring to your IT Network?



You may have heard large companies sing the praises of SD-WAN, a new technology in networking that apparently has the power to completely rework network infrastructures. The wired networks we’re all familiar with weren’t created with the wave of digitization in mind, let alone cloud-based applications – by using a network overlay, you can utilize centralized methods of working, and different connection types can revolutionize your systems.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the ins and outs of SD WAN, and the benefits of implementing an SD WAN system into your existing business network.

What is an SD WAN system?

A Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD WAN) is a type of software overlay that you can apply to your business network. It provides a broad range of functions to benefit your business, from the network settings you’d expect to physical switches that would typically require a hands-on engineer.

Clearly, this kind of tech can potentially shift the majority of your network to one central location, allowing configurations to become a cohesive part of your infrastructure that would have previously been impossible to implement. But what does this mean for your business?

Improving Performance and Increasing Speed

If you’ve ever tried to make a video call while other people are working on the same network, you’ll know that not all data is given equal priority. As technology like video calls have become so important over the past couple of years, this minor irritation has become a much bigger problem, with employees frequently facing issues like poor video quality, lagging audio, or the connection dropping altogether, just because another person in the office needs to send a file.

So how an SD-WAN system help with this? It essentially gives Class of Service (or CoS) control to your network, in a way tailored to your own business requirements. It may, for example, make a dedicated tunnel in between necessary devices, putting aside bandwidth specifically for this purpose. Alternatively, it might just run in the background while you work, dynamically rerouting data to reduce the risk of network congestion.

These changes can result in increased uptime for your mission-critical applications, and because downtime can cost your business thousands of dollars, this may mean the difference between a profit and a loss.

Also, Read: Firewall Analyzer Ensures Complete Network Visibility

Lowering Costs

Full disclosure: SD WAN is not cheap to install, and definitely won’t help you reduce your overall spending budget. But despite these high costs, it might help you save money in areas you wouldn’t usually consider, along with providing its other many benefits.

For instance, one way that SD WAN can save your business a huge amount of money is by routing data over any kind of geographical distance. Rather than requiring a pricey industry-level dedicated circuit to achieve the best speeds, an SD WAN system can simply use local internet (or even 4G channels) to create its own data channels, taking some of the weight from your primary IT infrastructure and creating more bandwidth.

Strengthening Your Network Security

Although network security might not be your biggest business concern at the moment (and understandably so), it still remains a key issue for every business with any kind of IT reliance. Thousands of businesses suffer some kind of cyber attack every year – even with issues like COVID going on, criminals are still looking to steal your information.

So how can an SD WAN system prevent this? By decreasing the impact of security on your end-users and customers – although this might not seem like immediate help, the frustration of running things like firewalls and keeping up security infrastructure that ends up slowing your network can mean that they’re considered an unnecessary hindrance.

Rather than relying on these older style methods, SD WAN systems can have built-in security infrastructures that integrate directly with your network without speed issues (sandboxing, encryption, AV, etc.). They’re also constantly working dynamically to make sure that every single system is running as effectively as it can, so if something like a firewall is backing up your data and slowing down application use for an end-user, it will find a better route for the data. This might only save a few seconds, but for the user, it could mean the difference between a good and bad experience with your network.

Making Cloud Usage More Efficient

The vast majority of businesses now use at least one cloud-based application in their day to day running – if they didn’t before the pandemic, then they probably are now with the new importance of home working!

An SD-WAN system can allow you to control a class of service whilst also letting end-users directly access vital cloud-based applications. For businesses with multiple branches that use centralized applications, this could prove vital, as it means that the experience for end-users and customers isn’t negatively affected. In addition to this, an SD-WAN system can simplify working from home by providing employees with office level performance and the access they need to important applications, even over domestic internet connections.

Simplifying Your Infrastructure

In the world of IT, a more complex system is typically a more expensive one, as it means that you need more staff, more travel to different sites, slower fixing of issues, more support from third parties, and many more paths for data to get muddled in. Through a variety of methods, SD-WAN can make this infrastructure much simpler: providing centralized control to reduce the staff workload, automating monitoring jobs, and much more. Although you likely aren’t considering SD-WAN for simplicity, it can be a surprisingly useful point in its favor!

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