You may have heard of SD WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) systems in the context of huge, multinational corporations, but did you know that they can also be applied to businesses of much smaller sizes?
You might already know a bit about how SD WAN works, especially if your business already utilizes a WAN and some different cloud based applications and processes – but it can still be hard to know if it’s the best choice for your company.
Here, we’ve explored some of the many networking and businesses benefits you could experience if you embrace SD WAN tech – no matter what you company size. Here you’ll find more insight into the technology – to help you figure out if an SD WAN system is the right system for you and your business.
If your business already has a primary circuit and backup circuit system as part of your network infrastructure then you might find SD WAN particularly useful. These types of systems usually work as a fail-safe, where one circuit kicks in if the other is down, but this ultimately means that you’re paying for two circuits while only gaining productivity from one – hardly an efficient method.
A traditional WAN system isn’t able to employ these circuits at the same time, meaning that you unfortunately can’t benefit from keeping both going simultaneously. You’ll be facing some serious bandwidth problems when you face an issue if your plan B is only to switch to the backup circuit, in addition to the difficulties of segregating users and data across two different circuits. Alternatively, an SD WAN system can hugely simplify this situation, letting you use both circuits at the same time while also allowing you to use only one if the situation necessitates it.
If you know anything about business networks, you might know that you can’t simply configure two circuits in an MPLS or ethernet WAN system, but with SD WAN, this isn’t the case. It essentially acts as though each individual circuit is a part of the total amount of bandwidth available to use; it doesn’t matter where this data is sent because it’s always moving dynamically.
Therefore, you won’t need to mess around with active and passive connections – if you have an issue with one of your circuits, the system will just reroute the data intelligently through any remaining bandwidth, turning your basic failsafe system into more dynamic, clever tech.
If your IT knowledge isn’t extensive, you might have assumed that your traditional WAN system would already be doing this if configured to route data flexibly. However, this isn’t really the case – a traditional WAN system only reroutes data if the first route is lost. So if your system is losing data because of problems like underperforming or congestion, the network won’t treat it as an issue; the route needs to be totally closed to redirect data.
SD WAN systems, as you’ve probably guessed, function much more intelligently, and are constantly working to route data in the most efficient way possible. For example, while the data will still be lost if the route is lost, an SD WAN system will additionally see slow data as an obstruction and reroute to keep up speeds.
CoS (or Class of Service) settings are a mainstay in networking technology, but SD WAN uses them far differently than a typical WAN router might do – and this has a huge impact on the performance of your applications.
Here’s an example – think of two users having a video call over two different sites. The router that is handling that call might be able to prioritise the data through CoS settings, but this doesn’t mean that it can predict what happens with another device. Therefore, a large file transfer from another site through the same network could cause some major disruption even though CoS is being utilised.
Using an SD WAN system means that every single device within the network is being considered simultaneously. If this third user attempts to make a large file transfer or another action that would lead to massively reduced bandwidth, then the SD WAN ‘business intent overlays’ can prevent this from happening, intelligently recognising that this doesn’t fall within the priorities of the network. The third user is then notified of this so that they can try again later!
An SD WAN system can allow your data to be handled uniquely from application to application if you’ve already got two circuits in place and available. Although you could use traditional wired ethernet circuits, you could also use 4/5G, fibre, or broadband connections in conjunction with this tech. For any high priority or mission critical applications, this is invaluable; down time can cost your business thousands, so keeping applications up and running could be essential for your company’s survival.
But how does it work? Basically, if you use an SD WAN system to select the most mission critical applications, you can control what the system needs to do with the corresponding data through rules. If there’s available bandwidth, then these applications can be set as the priority – alternatively, if you need another application (or multiple applications) to always utilise the same route, then you can allow less important applications to use the rest of the bandwidth.
We’ve gone over a few potential benefits of using an SD WAN system in this article, but there are so many more you can find by researching yourself. The choice of whether to implement one of these systems is yours, especially as these benefits are based on a huge variety of factors – but if your current WAN system just isn’t cutting it anymore and you’re relying increasingly on cloud based applications, this could be a great choice for your business.
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