SD WHAT?? SD-WAN explained in plain English, and 4 reasons you'll soon be using it. (a worthwhile 5 min. read)
There are oodles of sites, blogs, and videos about SD WAN, all of which will tell you it’s one of the most important technology breakthroughs for businesses. The difference here is we'll explain in plain English!
Here's the real scoop, with no tech jibberjabber.
You need to look into SD-WAN only if your company:
- Uses internet for more than one purpose, or
- Has more than one site, or
- Has MPLS or needs MPLS, or
- Has private line internet or needs private line internet, or
- Has a VoIP or cloud phone system, or
- Uses cloud ANYTHING
So...pretty much everyone should care about SD-WAN.
Why? Our consumption of bandwidth is increasing all the time...more and more of our daily business operations depend on the internet, whether it’s our email, our company’s internal records, our phone system, data storage, etc. Due to this demand, bandwidth speeds keep increasing, and costs keep going down. That sounds like good news, and it is, but this progress has brought about an inevitable traffic jam of information.
Increased speeds does not mean increased quality...rather it actually promotes the decrease of quality. Clogged internet “pipes” are one reason for slower speeds, spotty service, and a general disappointment in the fancy new service your company signed up for.
You know that feeling when you’re gliding down the road, enjoying every minute of it because you’re the only car in sight? No traffic jams, no construction zones, no jarring potholes. SD WAN can make your internet-dependent processes function like that. But WHAT IS IT?
The acronym stands for Software Defined Wide Area Network. But let’s uses real world analogies to truly define it.
SD-WAN is X-ray Vision
With SD-WAN, you can look into the guts of your applications and programs to see exactly what’s going on inside. This gives you x-ray vision into your company's network and applications to see their performance in real-time.
No longer do you wonder who to call when things aren’t functioning properly… is it your internet provider? Could it be a problem with our internal network? Perhaps this is caused by the company that hosts your email server? Or is it due to your new phone service? Who’s to blame here? And as you go through the long list of possible culprits.... there goes your productivity for the day along with your profits.
With SD-WAN, you have one screen to look at and see exactly where the issue is stemming from. This represents a huge savings in time and expense, however, You won’t need to use your X-Ray vision very often when you have SD-WAN, because..
SD-WAN is GPS
Just like a real time GPS app that sees a problem ahead on your commute and reroutes you to avoid the issue, SD-WAN can route and re-route data and voice traffic on the fastest possible route.
Having to take detours or re-route will be rare when you have SD-WAN, however, because….
SD-WAN is Traffic Control
Your software will have already defined which route you want the voice traffic to go, what priority the guest Wi-Fi should have in relation to your data bank, when to switch to the backup internet line in case one goes down, and so on.
SD-WAN will allow you to put those parameters in place beforehand, thus keeping the slow jalopies out of the fast lane…..and keeping your important operations gliding down the HOV lane.
Now even a small business can operate with the security, speed, and ease of an international enterprise with SD-WAN because...
SD-WAN is Champagne on a Beer Budget
Many of the functions companies rely on demand enterprise-grade quality. Business with multiple branches, or those who had sensitive data needs used to have to pay royally for an MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) which was the only option to make sure every packet of data reached the desired destination. Or, they could empty their pockets for a dedicated internet line, which is like buying and building your own road to get to work every day. Nice, but not always practical for smaller businesses.
And even the companies that have invested in MPLS and dedicated lines, still need a way to strategize what’s used for what, and a way to quickly and effectively view and adjust these rules as needed.
With SD-WAN, you can function as though you had these services, or get your money out of them if you already do.
“Sounds good, “ you say… “but prove it.”
Here are real before and after pictures for you of a standard coax internet line, showing the difference in:
- latency (the term for delay...as in how long it takes for the people on your conference call to hear each other, so they all start talking at once...so annoying!)
- packet loss (this is where pieces of data go missing… metaphorically thrown off the highway to help reduce the congestion. You didn’t need that, did you?)
- outages (the aftershocks you feel when service is interrupted or goes down. Hey– why is my computer rebooting?)
Notice the difference SD-WAN made on this real internet line through remediation and error-protection coding:
Latency WITHOUT SD-WAN:
Latency WITH SD-WAN:
Packet Loss WITHOUT SD-WAN:
Packet loss WITH SD-WAN:
Outages WITHOUT SD-WAN:
Outages WITH SD-WAN:
(charts courtesy of Patrick Oborn of Telarus)
As you can see above, the proof is in the pudding. SD– WAN is the technology that allows you to convert a cheap internet service into a dependable, enterprise-grade service.
As the broadband revolution marches on, the need for this software is only going to increase.
There are many providers of SD-WAN, which is further evidence of how necessary the technology is becoming.
CAUTION: They aren’t all the same.
Some sit in front of your firewall, others sit behind it. Some create and mange their own hardware, others are reselling. Some providers can aggregate the bandwidth you need, others can’t. Some charge based on bandwidth, others won’t change your price when you upgrade bandwidth.
Which kind of SD-WAN does your company need?
This is when you need a trusted technology solution consultant who had the full story on all the providers, and can guide you to the one that is a fit for your needs.
The internet is growing. Use it to your advantage, not your detriment with SD-WAN.