While different organizations have varying levels of dependence on the world wide web, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that doesn’t use the internet at all.
However, the way businesses consume and organize their internet connections varies widely.
SD-WAN is one component of enterprise network structures that has received attention in recent years.
What is SD-WAN?
Short for software-defined wide area network, SD-WAN allows you to set rules for how to direct traffic between two or more WAN connections (one or more of whcih can be an internet circuit) within your business network.
The KR Group’s infrastructure services team advises organizations with dual internet circuits (or that could benefit from redundant connections) to implement SD-WAN to optimize the traffic flow of their network.
Because SD-WAN offers many benefits, such as:
- Traffic handling
- Investment value
And that’s just the beginning. However, they are some of the most prominent perks of SD-WAN, so let’s dig into what they look like in action.
The first reason you might begin considering SD-WAN is to implement a seamless redundancy policy for your internet circuits.
If your organization relies on a working internet connection, your IT consultant will advise you to pay for a secondary back-up circuit. With SD-WAN, you can set policies for what traffic would fail over to the redundant connection.
However, you don’t want to spend money on a second circuit for it to sit unused until you experience an internet outage. The good news is that SD-WAN can address this problem as well.
Think of your internet traffic like street traffic.
A civil engineer spends hours analyzing traffic flow for the optimal way to guide vehicles through a busy intersection. Depending on how many commuters use the intersection, where they’re going, and how fast they need to go, the civil engineer can determine if a stop sign, traffic light, or a roundabout is the best option to direct drivers through the intersection.
With SD-WAN, you can take a similar approach to your internet traffic.
Evaluate who is using your internet and how. Use data and user experience to determine if your network is efficient. (Pro tip: A layer 7 analysis is a great way to gain visibility to this information.)
Ultimately, when you implement SD-WAN, you’ll use this information to determine what traffic uses a specific circuit, when to handoff traffic to an alternate connection, and how to handle partial internet outages.
Another part of analyzing your users’ network traffic patterns is looking for the optimal route to direct that traffic down.
If the traffic handling component is like a civil engineer, then the efficiency aspect of SD-WAN is like GPS navigation searching for the ideal route.
It looks for “roadblocks,” such as high latency, traffic volume, or interrupted connections, and then directs network traffic to the optimal path when considering all the traffic in your network.
Suppose you set your SD-WAN policy to switch video traffic to your secondary circuit if your primary connection is at half the max bandwidth capacity or its latency is above an acceptable range. However, you also want the traffic to switch back to your primary circuit once the issues are resolved.
SD-WAN gives you tools to set this policy, and you’ll also have visibility to see how often it’s happening. With that information, you can review possible causes and make effective decisions that will improve your network operations, such as upgrading your internet circuits.
When you think about routing things on the internet, there is a cost to a route, primarily associated with time.
As your internet request travels from point A to point B, factors impacting the route include bandwidth availability, circuit delays, and the number of hops (different pieces of equipment) required to route traffic.
SD-WAN allows you to set rules and policies for ensuring your most-vital web traffic has the best route to and from the internet.
So when you’re considering the value of this technology, think about how much money you could lose with a bad or lost internet connection that you could have prevented with SD-WAN.
Is SD-WAN Right for Your Business?
The first question you should ask yourself when considering implementing SD-WAN into your business’s network is how important is a stable internet connection for your operations.
Some organizations can withstand a brief outage, working offline or utilizing mobile hotspots for vital online functions.
However, others must completely shut down operations and pay for lost production during an internet outage.
Still, you might find yourself somewhere between those two scenarios. Your whole business doesn’t shut down if you lose access to the internet, but a poor or lost connection would affect customer perception – and, therefore, profits.
If the thought of an internet outage is enough to make you toss and turn at night, SD-WAN could be your answer.
It ensures you have network redundancy for the solutions and processes vital to your business by efficiently handling your traffic. Additionally, you gain visibility to improve your network as needed.
Intrigued by the concept? Check out this SD-WAN infographic for a more in-depth explanation of what the technology can do for your organization.