Three Misconceptions Surrounding SD-WAN

SD-WAN has been marketed as a replacement for MPLS, but its true nature is more agnostic in connectivity.

Enterprise IT is adopting software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as a solution to a variety of network challenges, including growing network complexity, more endpoints and a drive for better security. SD-WAN offers some nice benefits such as the ability to enhance agility and performance.

Some of the benefits of SD-WAN have been over-hyped as the market has grown, with selling points like cost savings taking precedence in marketing over some of the more important effects on network infrastructure. Cost savings are certainly possible, but it’s the ability to solve complex network problems that makes SD-WAN more valuable. Take a look at three misconceptions surrounding SD-WAN:

SD-WAN uses internet connectivity to solve every issue. SD-WAN does give the enterprise the ability to shift some traffic over to lower-cost public internet, but this isn’t an appropriate solution for every kind of data transmission. In most situations, enterprises use a hybrid solution of virtual private LAN services, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and multipoint connectivity. Internet connectivity is just one of the ways in which SD-WAN can help an enterprise save money.

SD-WAN replaces MPLS. One of the most common marketing approaches for SD-WAN is using the solution as a way to replace costly MPLS lines. In reality, enterprises value MPLS for mission-critical transmissions and often use it as one of many pathways to the network. Because MPLS tends to be more costly and is more cumbersome to set up at new branch locations, enterprises are also tapping into other lines of connectivity, but MPLS remains a valuable asset.

SD-WAN is the answer to all connectivity woes. SD-WAN offers great flexibility, but it does require administrators to monitor network performance, traffic congestion and pathway selection to be sure the network is supporting business processes. For instance, the ability to segment out network traffic based on user or application type can add valuable security policy for identifying and isolating a threat, but it requires the step of establishing business policy to determine how to segment traffic.

There are many benefits to SD-WAN technology, and enterprises are increasingly adopting this technology to handle the growing complexity in their infrastructures. The challenge comes in when perceptions of SD-WAN are overly simplified and the solution is expected to erase all network complexity and reduce costs. The solution still requires due diligence by the IT team to realize its benefits. It’s also important for IT to consider SD-WAN from a technical product ability perspective, and not simply evaluate it based on marketing messages.

Compass Solutions can help your clients leverage the true benefits of SD-WAN to improve network performance and optimize connectivity costs. Contact us to discuss the practical ways SD-WAN may solve some network challenges in your enterprise.

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