SD-WAN is the topic of everyone’s telecommunications conversations today. Unfortunately, the interest is being fueled by some misconceptions about what benefits SD-WAN provides. When discussing solutions with your customer, having your facts straight is an important step toward making the right recommendation and, ultimately, making sure your customers are happy.
- SD-WAN improves the performance of your internet connections. Plugging broadband circuits into your SD-WAN device does not improve the performance of those circuits. Once application traffic leaves your LAN over a best-effort broadband circuit, the route it takes to reach its destination is at the mercy of the public Internet. If the Internet is having a bad day, your application traffic may meet some resistance regardless how the SD-WAN software prioritizes traffic as it leaves your network.SD-WAN can, however, improve the performance of your applications over the public Internet. When the application traffic is purposefully routed over multiple active circuits from diverse carriers as it leaves your network, the SD-WAN software prioritizes application traffic. High priority application traffic receives the best available bandwidth resources at the time of transmission to ensure the available application performance from the Internet circuits.
- SD-WAN will cut your network cost in half. When thinking about total network costs, there are several moving parts. SD-WAN does allow businesses to leverage the low cost-per-megabit offered by broadband Internet access links and replaces routers and firewalls at the edge. However, it’s likely IT departments will use the money saved on lower cost Internet circuits by increasing spending on advanced cloud and networking technologies, like SD-WAN, that fully utilize their network resources.With SD-WAN, companies can support the increasing bandwidth requirements of cloud-based and media rich applications with a network that utilizes both dedicated Internet or MPLS circuits and lower cost broadband Internet circuits. So, while cost per megabit will go down, overall bandwidth consumed increases. Rather than saving costs on network, businesses get more network for their spend.
- SD-WAN solutions are simple. SD-WAN vendors like to tout that all you need to do to enable their solutions is plug in their box and, voila, your SD-WAN network is up and running. While there is a kernel of truth to this, many vendors fail to mention the significant amount of time required to configure the devices and the networking expertise required to integrate a new SD-WAN network with a legacy network.To fully realize the benefits of an SD-WAN solution, networking experts must provide a design maximizing the performance of critical applications across the network. Once the solution has been successfully designed, configured and implemented you then need experts to monitor and make configuration changes to continuously enhance performance of the network.
- SD-WAN is an MPLS killer. In today’s world, low cost broadband Internet circuits are always best effort and cannot provide companies the guaranteed performance of an MPLS networking solution. As we discussed earlier, plugging broadband Internet circuits into an SD-WAN appliance does not actually improve the performance of the broadband circuits themselves, nor does it provide guaranteed performance of the data traversing over the public Internet between an SD-WAN branch location and its end destination.
Firms that require SLA-backed services will find that reassurance in an MPLS solution. Considering that SD-WAN is a relatively unproven technology, many firms are hesitant to entirely replace their MPLS network with SD-WAN. It is common to see SD-WAN integrated into a legacy MPLS network to create a hybrid networking solution.
SD-WAN is not the answer to all of your customer’s networking problems, but it does offer many benefits that allow your customer to maximize the performance of applications across their network, while getting more network for their money. Understanding the complexities and benefits of SD-WAN will prepare you to make better recommendations when your customers are evaluating whether an SD-WAN solution will best meet their needs.