Many of the misrepresentations of truth (OK, myths) that get bandied about regarding SD-WAN come from MPLS providers or network engineers who are happy with their current architecture and/or dread the thought of change. There’s no question, MPLS has been a great transport technology over the past fifteen (15) years or so, and its removal of Data Layer (OSI’s layer 2) dependency to provide QoS (Quality of Service) across the WAN was a considerable step up from legacy solutions, such as frame relay and ATM. And it’s still a great, and widely used, transport protocol, and can be effectively utilized with SD-WAN. So, let’s start with this first myth…
SD-WAN is a replacement for MPLS
No question, SD-WAN is perfect for replacing MPLS in certain instances, especially as it pertains to branch offices. MPLS isn’t cheap, and provisioning it at each location requires a level of on-site expertise. Now consider the associated costs and hassles when a company has hundreds of locations. However, given the stringent QoS demands that exist with many organizations, MPLS is still used to satisfy many of those, but can perfectly augment SD-WAN, as well. MPLS provides very high, and reliable, packet delivery, and many companies use it solely for traffic requiring QoS, and push everything else across the SD-WAN.
SD-WAN and WAN Optimization are the same thing
WAN Optimization was designed to address traffic traversing legacy networks, like frame relay and ATM. It was a way to squeeze the most of an existing network without having to expensively upgrade bandwidth at each site. Basically, the cost of bandwidth outgrew the need for more of it, and WAN Optimization, through caching and protocol optimization, allowed users to download cached information from a file that had already been downloaded―faster, more efficient use of bandwidth. But WAN Optimization can work in conjunction with SD-WAN, as it reduces latency across (very) long-distance WAN locations, satisfies certain QoS needs through data compression, and addresses TCP/IP protocol limitations.
SD-WAN is nothing more than a cost savings play
No question, SD-WAN is less costly than MPLS, and utilizes inexpensive, highly commoditized Internet connections. But there is a long list of reasons to utilize SD-WAN that go above and beyond savings. It’s far easier to deploy than MPLS and can be centrally-managed, which is ideal for setting policies, then pushing them out to all SD-WAN locations. SD-WAN works with the transport protocol of your choosing, whether that’s MPLS, 4G, Wi-Fi, and others. And there’s no longer a requirement to lease lines from only one (1) service provider, so customers can enjoy far greater flexibility and the ability to monitor circuits regardless of provider used.
SD-WAN requires a hybrid solution
Hybrid WANs, which utilize two (2) or more transport technologies across the WAN, are certainly not an SD-WAN requirement, but definitely work beautifully within that architecture. For instance, it’s not uncommon for organizations to utilize legacy networks for time-sensitive traffic, and SD-WAN for offloading certain applications to their corporate data center. A hybrid solution can allow for the seamless flow of traffic between locations so that, in the event one link experiences loss or latency, the other can instantly take over and meet associated SLAs.
Here’s one that’s NOT a myth: if you’d like to implement SD-WAN, you should turn to professionals who specialize in it
To enjoy all that SD-WAN offers, there are a spate of things to consider, from architectures and applications, to bandwidth requirements and traffic prioritization. SD-WAN is often referred to as a simple plug-n-play solution, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Yes, it can be a brilliant WAN option, but not relying on experts in SD-WAN technology may soon leave you thinking, All that SD-WAN hype is just that…hype!
Working with SD-WAN experts like those at GDT can help bring the technology’s many benefits to your organization and leave you thinking, “It’s no hype…SD-WAN is awesome.” They’ve done just that for many enterprises―large, medium and small. You can reach their experienced SD-WAN solutions architects and engineers at SDN@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.