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An Introduction to SD-WAN

February 27, 2019

An Introduction to SD-WAN

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What is SD-WAN

SD-WAN or Software-Defined Wide-Area Network is an important step in the evolution of networking and is designed to align networks with changes in the way people access business information. When people think of WAN, they think in terms of large corporate networks but SD-WAN also addresses businesses with smaller requirements.  

Traditionally data and applications were held by a business and accessed centrally, with tight controls maintained. This was useful as it avoided each area of the business operating to separate / different rules, allowing for more efficient control and management of the network and its use.

Due to the growth of Cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, the centralised model is no longer the most efficient. For example, if your business is using Office 365, why would you want all offices to need to go via Head Office to get to the Internet to access the application?


As the digital age evolves and the focus on Cloud based technologies continues, businesses are turning toward SD-WAN in a bid to build agile networks with high uptime, visibility & security. With research from Gartner indicating that by the end of 2019, 30% of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN. SD-WAN helps address issues such as rising bandwidth costs, lack of network control, visibility and more.

  • It’s cost-effective

Being able to centrally assign business policies that control & secure the network traffic provides added simplicity that makes it easier to take advantage of different types of connections whilst providing flexibility in how connections are used.  

  • It offers increased resiliency

SD-WAN provides the integration and management of multiple connections, prioritising traffic and fail over. It provides a level of control when it comes to prioritisation, which is a key element for businesses running VoIP phones alongside other connectivity-dependent & cloud-based services. Essentially employees will always be able to access the right systems at the right time.

  • Flexible connectivity

SD-WAN helps manage diverse connections for different locations under a unified management plan. Private WANs can be expensive whereas SD-WAN seeks to deploy different types of connections in an optimal mix. 

  • Security

Despite SD-WAN suggesting a move away from a centralised, managed network, this does not necessarily mean a potential for increased security risk as a result. Underpinning SD-WAN is strong central management that allows admins to have increased visibility and oversight of the whole WAN in order to identify and resolve any anomalies within the network. 


SD-WAN works differently than other WAN management tools, as it uses software to strategically route traffic across branches, data centres and clouds to achieve efficient WAN usage. Networks are built using edge devices that are placed at branch sites with each device centrally managed based on application policies & security.

Prior to the emergence of SD-WAN, enterprises used Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), to manage efficient network traffic flow between two or more locations. However, MPLS often comes at a cost premium and is comparatively rigid in its configuration. SD-WAN challenges these pitfalls in terms of network cost, capacity, agility and visibility.

The benefits of SD-WAN are hard to deny, from cost to agility/flexibility to ease of use/deployment to increased security. However, private networking such as MPLS will always be in demand, particularly in businesses or institutions where resource centralisation is strong.

To determine if SD-WAN is right for you, we recommend you start by analysing your current IT issues and see if any of the above benefits would help solve these.

For more information on our EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution, contact our team on 028 9078 6868, or download our free guide to SD-WAN here

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