How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

By Richard Arneson

Now that computing has been truly pushed out to the edge, it brings up questions about how it will mesh with today’s networks. The answer? Very well, especially regarding .

is comprised of three types of devices that make it work―sensors, gateways and the Cloud. No, smart phones aren’t one of the devices listed. In fact, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s not call smart phones devices. The technology sector is particularly adept at incorrectly utilizing words interchangeably. In this case, the confusing word is device. For instance, when you hear statistics about the estimated number of connected devices to be over 20 billion by 2020, smart phones are not part of that figure. While smart phones are often called devices and do have sensors that can detect tilt (gyroscope) and acceleration (accelerometer), IoT sensors extend beyond those devices (oops, I did it again; let’s call them pieces of equipment) that provide Internet connectivity―laptops, tablets and, yes, smart phones.

Sensors and Gateways and Clouds…oh my

Sensors are the edge devices, and can detect, among other things, temperature, pressure, water quality, existence of smoke or gas, et al. Think Ring Doorbell or Nest Thermostat.

The gateway can be either in hardware or software (sometimes both), and is used for the aggregation of connectivity, encryption and decryption of the IoT data.  Gateways translate protocols used in IoT sensors, including management, onboarding (storage and analytics) and edge computing. Gateways, as the name suggests, serve as a bridge between IoT devices, their associated protocols, such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, and the environment where the gathered data gets utilized.

SD-WAN and IoT

SD-WAN simplifies network management―period. And a subset of that simplicity comes in the form of visibility and predictability, which is exactly what IoT needs. SD-WAN can help ensure IoT devices in remote locations will get the bandwidth and security needed, which is especially important considering IoT devices don’t maintain a lot of computing power (for example, they usually don’t have enough to support Transport Layer Security (TLS)).

SD-WAN allows network managers the ability to segment traffic based on type―in this case, IoT―so device traffic can always be sent over the most optimal path. And SD-WAN traffic can be sent directly to a cloud services provider, such as AWS or Azure. In traditional architectures, such as MPLS, the traffic has to be backhauled to a data center, after which it is handed off to the Internet. Hello, latency―not good for IoT devices that need real-time access and updating.

SD-WAN is vendor-agnostic, and can run over virtually any existing topology, such as cellular, broadband and Wi-Fi, which makes it easier to connect devices in some of the more far-flung locations. And management can be accomplished through a central location, which makes it easier to integrate services across the IoT architecture of your choosing.

As mentioned earlier, there will be an estimated 20 billion IoT devices in use by 2020, up from 11 billion presently (by 2025…over 50 billion). The number of current endpoints being used is amazing, but the growth rate is truly staggering. And for IoT to deliver on its intended capabilities, it needs a network that can help it successfully deliver access to real-time data. That sounds like SD-WAN.

Here’s a great resource

To find out more about SD-WAN and exactly how it provides an ideal complement to IoT, contact GDT’s tenured SD-WAN engineers and solutions architects at They’ve implemented SD-WAN and IoT solutions for some of the largest enterprise networks and service providers in the world. They’d love to hear from you.