Should you be exploring SD WAN for your business?

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The numerous benefits that SD WAN systems can provide for sprawling, international corporations have been covered from all angles – but what can they do for smaller companies with fewer resources?

If your business currently uses a WAN in its daily operations, and you have a few cloud based processes and applications that you rely upon, then you might already know a little about SD WAN. But does that mean that it could be worth the investment for your company?

In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the business and networking benefits that you could potentially see from implementing SD WAN technology, and giving you straightforward information that will help you decide if this is a path you’d like to go down.

Twin Circuits vs SD WAN Performance

Looking into SD WAN can be especially helpful if your business already has a primary circuit and backup circuit as a part of the network infrastructure. These typically work in a fail-safe mode, in which one can step in if the other experiences issues – however, this means that you’re paying for two circuits, and only ever receiving the benefits of one at a time.

Unfortunately, a traditional WAN infrastructure just isn’t capable of employing these circuits simultaneously – you can’t reap the benefits of running both at the same time. If your current back up plan simply involves switching over to the second circuit, then you’ll be dealing with some major bandwidth problems if you come across an issue, as well as the difficulties involved in segregating data and users over two dedicated circuits.

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SD WAN can simply this entire process enormously by letting you use both circuits actively, as well as keeping the basic premise that you always have two in case one is unavailable for whatever reason.

How does SD WAN work?

You may know that there’s no straightforward way of configuring two circuits within an MPLS or ethernet WAN – that’s where SD WAN can come in. Basically, it treats each circuit as an element of the total amount of bandwidth it can utilise – where this data is sent isn’t really relevant, as it’s always moving towards its path in the most intelligent and dynamic possible way.

This means that you don’t have any need for active or passive connections; if one of your circuits experiences a problem, your system will simply reroute the data intelligently via the remaining bandwidth, transforming a basic failsafe system into an efficient, dynamic solution.

Better Application Performance for End Users

If you already have two available circuits in place, an SD WAN system will allow your data to be handled uniquely from application to application. While you can use traditional wired ethernet circuits, you can also utilise fibre, broadband or 4/5G connections with this technology. This can be vital for any high priority, mission critical applications you might be running – as you know, down time can cost a shocking amount, so keeping these apps running is crucial if you want your business to survive.

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But how does SD WAN work? Essentially, by using this system to select applications that are the most critical to your business, you can pretty much dictate what the system should do with the corresponding data via rules. If the bandwidth is available, these applications can be set as the priority – simultaneously, if you would like a certain application (or several applications) to always use the same path, you can let less vital applications utilise the remainder of the bandwidth.

Traditional WAN Routing vs SD WAN

If you aren’t super knowledgeable on IT, you may assume that this is basically what a traditional WAN setup would do when configured to flexibly route data, but this isn’t actually the case. In a typical WAN infrastructure, re-routing only happens if the original route is lost. Therefore, if your route is dropping data due to congestion or underperforming, it’s not a problem, as the road needs to be completely shut to redirect you.

SD WAN systems are far more intelligent, working dynamically to route data most effectively. For instance, if the route is lost then the bandwidth is too, but an SD WAN will also view slow data as an obstruction, rerouting on the fly to keep speeds up in the event of drops.

Smooth Application Performance Over Internet Connections

Class of service settings have been around for a long time, but the way that CoS works with SD WAN when compared to a typical WAN router is enormously different, therefore impacting the performance of your applications differently as well.

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For example, imagine that you have two users having a video call between two different sites – while the router that is handling the call is able to prioritise the data through its own class of service settings, it can’t predict what another device might be doing. This means that a large file transfer through the network from an additional third site could cause some issues, even though CoS is in use.
By using an SD WAN system, you’re making sure that every device on the network is being considered. If this video call is happening and another user attempts to perform an action that would lead to extremely reduced bandwidth that would impact the quality of the call, the SD WAN ‘business intent overlays’ will recognise that this transfer doesn’t fall within the set priorities of the business, and prevent it from happening. This is then relayed back to the third user, so that they can try again once the call has finished up!

So, is it worth it?

We’ve discussed a range of benefits here today, but there are many more that you can find from other online sources. The choice to implement an SD WAN system is obviously yours, and whether it will benefit your business is dependent on a huge range of factors. But if you’re feeling held back by your current WAN system, and you rely on a number of cloud based applications, it could be well worth your investment!

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