Help me, SD-WAN. You're my only hope.

By: Tim Young

Software-defined wide area networks (or SD-WANs, as their friends call them) are heating up and poised to reach a nice rolling boil over the next few years. IDC predicted in March that SD-WAN revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate of more than 90%.

Not up on your SD-WAN basics? Here’s a quick primer.

What’s it do?

Traditional router-based WANs are annoying. They take a long time to scale and they can be very expensive. SD-WANs take the pain out of virtualization in a few key ways (summed up nicely in a blog by Gartner’s Andrew Lerner):

SD-WAN solutions can replace WAN routers in a lightweight way that is agnostic to the WAN transport technology involved. They can share traffic loads across multiple WAN connections efficiently and dynamically. They can reduce both complexity and generally require no more skill to set up than a home wireless router. And for those skittish about security (which should be everyone), they can integrate a wide array of network security services.

And then there’s the cost savings. A recent blog from SD-WAN vendor Talari Networks outlines five concrete ways SD-WAN saves companies’ money:

  1. Better application performance prevents productivity losses. If employees aren’t dealing with lag, dropped calls, and other frustrating tech issues, they can focus on their core competencies and are generally more effective. They also don’t have to constantly hassle IT, leading to…
  2. Reduced helpdesk calls, which saves money and everyone’s sanity.
  3. SD-WAN solutions can also leverage all available network connections at full capacity, including some previously used only for backup, so firms aren’t paying for un-utilized bandwidth.
  4. More efficient network use also means that some companies can use broadband rather than T1 lines. One bank customer of Talari’s reported a 50 percent cost savings achieved by using broadband rather than leased lines, even when factoring in the cost of the SD-WAN solution.
  5. A wider array of acquisition models also mean deployment of SD-WAN is easier and cheaper than almost any comparable technology.

There are lots more benefits to SD-WANs in the areas of agility, QoS, security, and more.


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