What is SD-WAN? What type of SD-WAN is Right for Your Business?

What is SD-WAN? What type of SD-WAN is Right for Your Business?

At a current count, there’s over 85 different SD-WAN service providers! Which one of those 85 vendors is right for your business? 

I’m Max Clark, CEO of ITBroker.com and we’re going to talk about SD-WAN and why SD-WAN is so important for your business.   

First off, let’s talk about what is SD-WAN?  SD-WAN is an acronym that means software-defined WAN. And this isn’t an acronym that’s defined by somebody, that’s it’s like, “what is bourbon?” or “what is champagne?” It’s just that: software-defined WAN. 

So if you’re a service provider and you have a marketing department and SD-WAN gets really hot, now all of a sudden you’re looking for a way to check that box and say: “Yes, we’re SD-WAN.” So all that really means for most people is that you can configure their equipment via a web interface or via a website.  Not necessarily the definition of SD-WAN that we’re looking for for our customers, or that you’re looking for for yourself.  

So what do you get out of SD-WAN? Well, most SD-WAN vendors we categorize into three things. We’re going to categorize those vendors into: 

1) Internet optimization and QoS 

2) MPLS replacement or augmentation 

3) Wide-area acceleration and content deduplication. 

We’ll talk about each one of those right now: 

1) The first one is Internet optimization and QoS. This is one of my favorite categories of SD-WAN, every single business at every single home user can use one of these appliances. What this does for you is it protects your critical traffic from your non-critical traffic. What’s critical traffic? Well today, critical traffic is video conferencing. If you have a video conferencing session going on, you want that video conferencing session to be pristine and perfect. You don’t care about your Windows Update downloads happening in the background. You don’t care about Dropbox, or Box, or SharePoint, or Drive or any of these other file synchronization services, they can take a little longer. What Internet optimization and QoS will do for you is: it will protect your important traffic, and at the same time it will deprioritize your non important traffic. This gives you a better user experience. Internet optimization and QoS SD-WAN will also give you the ability to dynamically load balance and traffic shift between multiple circuits. This happens automatically. You don’t even know it’s happening!  

One of our favorite vendors will send you report out once a month and say, “This is what we did for you this month at this location. Here’s all your circuits and this is what happened with each one of these circuits and, oh, by the way, this circuit had an outage equating to 9 hours this month that you didn’t even know about because we automatically shifted traffic to another location.” 

This works for multiple circuits. It works for single circuits, Internet optimization and QoS SD-WAN is an awesome thing for you to add to your business. It will make the Internet better for you. It will make your applications work better. It will make your employees and customers happy. 

2) The second category of SD-WAN is MPLS replacement (really, it’s MPLS augmentation). This was the pioneering space of SD-WAN, and what it is, it’s the ability for an appliance to actually create and build that virtual tunnel connecting your sites in your locations together. Depending on the actual SD-WAN vendor and service that you contract with, they do lots of other things: they might have a gateway, they might give you optimization to a cloud service or to a phone service, or to a video collaboration service, or to a specific application, or to Microsoft 365 or etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  

Maybe all you’re looking for is: the ability to remove your one of your redundant MPLS network links with the with an Internet overlay in, so you could have an MPLS service plus an Internet overlay. It’s important to note that not all MPLS replacement SD-WAN services give you the ability to still run MPLS. They assume that you’re going to be Internet only, so this becomes an important criteria and decision selection that we look at with an MPLS replacement or augmentation service. There’s some really awesome technology in these spaces. There are some awesome vendors that we love, and it really just depends on what are we trying to match for that customer and what SD-WAN is appropriate to them. 

3) The third category of SD-WAN that we look at is: wide area network optimization traffic deduplication, so this is really about either: continent to continent networking wide expanses, businesses running locations that are distributed that maybe have low Internet or degraded Internet performance and they have critical applications. 

Some examples of this would be: maybe you’re a U.S. company and you open manufacturing plants in MexicoSouth America, you have operations in Europeand these remote locations are connecting back to either your operations in your data center, your main office or into a cloud or region in North America. This becomes really important when you start looking at wide or long network links, large latency network links or traffic congested links, or maybe it’s just that you have limited bandwidth. 

Another example: you’re a retailer and you have lots of locations out in the middle of nowhere that just don’t have options for Internet. Maybe the only thing that you can get there is satellite or LTE. In those cases, you want to make sure that you’re using the network as efficiently as possible and you’re prioritizing the traffic that really matters to you as much as possible. What’s that traffic? Probably your point of sales terminal and then the phone that’s actually in that location. Everything else becomes inconsequential to you.  

In the third category we really look at is this this wide area network, long latency, traffic optimization, type of SD-WAN.  

At ITBroker.com, we understand that your business is unique. How your business functions and what’s specific about your business is what we want to understand so that way we can match you to the right SD-WAN vendor. You might fit into the Internet optimization, you might be an MPLS aggregation, you might be in Mexico with Brazil with Europe and North America and need something that’s Internet optimized SD-WAN.  

These are the things that we really want to understand. We want to understand your applications, we want to understand how your business functions, because this is the critical piece that makes a difference in selecting which SD-WAN vendor is right for you. What features you really need? What service provider is right for you? And this is how we make sure you get the right tech and the best deal for your business.