The basics of SD-WAN
Imagine you opened a business and within the first couple of years of operation, the business was so successful you decided to open a second location. A second location would double your sales and expand your reach into a new region. In order to improve operational efficiency, you wanted the second location to quickly and easily share inventory and information with the first location, so you built a high-speed tunnel between the locations. Employees could use the tunnel to quickly transport between locations. The tunnel had inherent security through its obscurity because most people didn’t even know it existed and breaching the walls would be a major task. Your business flourished in this environment as you continued adding new locations each with its own tunnel connecting every new location to the first location.
The network of tunnels you created for your business can be used as a way to visualize the independent network connections that make up a wide area network (WAN). Just like the tunnels, WANs are high-performance, purpose-built connections between locations. But as we’ll see next, the allegory can be extended to also visualize the limitations of a traditional WAN and the benefits of software defined wide area network (SD-WAN).
After years of business expansion, you realized your employees could be more efficient if they had access to outside information while traversing the tunnels. Through its isolation, the tunnel system was protected from outside threats, but this isolation also limited employee access to vital and timely information. In addition, you began to wonder if the costs required to build and maintain your tunnel network could be reduced. This lack of access to outside information and costs of maintaining the tunnels was now putting your business at a competitive disadvantage. The tunnels were very fast because they were built with the sole purpose of connecting two locations, but they were beginning to limit your growth opportunities. You were willing to give up a little bit of speed to open up access and reduce costs.
After researching alternative approaches, you discovered a logistics cooperative already operating high-speed transportation between your locations. The transportation wasn’t inherently secure like your tunnels, but the network was already established, and it could reduce your costs by an order of magnitude. You also realized that while using the cooperative transportation network, your employees could have complete access to all outside information as they are freed from the confines of the tunnels. This would eliminate their information blind spots and improve labor efficiency. The only issue with switching from your private network of tunnels to the publicly accessed cooperative network was security.
In the same way, SD-WAN leverages lower-cost internet connections which reduce expense while also opening up access to outside information which is critical for today’s cloud applications. And through encryption, SD-WAN solves the problem of security.
Leveraging the already established transportation network, your business could now grow at a faster pace with less capital expense. In simplistic terms, this is how SD-WAN can revolutionize your business. You can think of a WAN as your original network of tunnels in that it was expensive to implement, somewhat secure through obscurity, and incredibly fast as it was purpose-built. SD-WAN won’t be as fast as a dedicated WAN, but SD-WAN will be far more cost-effective to implement. SD-WAN brings the advantages of creating a WAN over the top of public internet connections with software. And through optimization and today’s fast hardware, SD-WAN can provide high-speed application performance, network flexibility, and resiliency at a fraction of the cost
If you are looking to improve user productivity, security, and accessibility while simplifying your network architecture and reducing cost, you should consider SD-WAN.