What’s the Difference Between WAN and SD-WAN

Ensuring the functionality and security of enterprise networks is one of the most essential tasks of organizations in today’s world. But this is a challenge when things are always changing in this space. Software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) are a new kind of technology changing how we connect.

Here’s the difference between traditional WAN and SD-WAN.

Bandwidth and Connection Simplification

When it comes to considering the differences between more traditional wide-area networks and software-defined WANs, it’s essential to consider the effects on bandwidth and connection. There’s a lot that goes into building a network infrastructure. For enterprises today, this needs to be one of the top priorities—not just for IT, but for the entire organization.

With traditional WAN, it’s typical to suffer from connection latency, as the network is pieced together in a sort of hodgepodge of different technologies being forced to run together. The problem is, when you’re trying to migrate more onto the cloud, but also using high-cost connections like MPLS, things can get incredibly messy. This is especially true when there’s no overarching system tying everything together.

SD-WAN solves this by creating a virtual network on top of what already exists. By having a centralized virtual network layer, it’s possible to streamline the connection process, making everything more efficient. For instance, different types of network traffic can be prioritized, and paired with certain types of connection channels. Video calls, as an example, might be dedicated to more reliable connections, while non-essential traffic can just flow via the internet. This can greatly improve the overall function of enterprise networks, as bandwidth is far more flexible and responsive than with traditional network infrastructures.

Direct Cloud Connectivity

Most organizations today see the value in migrating toward more cloud applications and functionality. These services are more scalable, can be rapidly deployed anywhere, and are more easily managed and updated than on-premise solutions. SD-WAN differs from traditional WAN in the sense that it’s built for the cloud.

The old way of doing networks wasn’t based around a cloud-first model. That’s, however, quickly becoming the standard across industries. With SD-WAN, you’ll have a network infrastructure built specifically for cloud optimization. This will help both for deployment of more cloud-native applications and services, but also make the ones you already have function better.

Streamlined Network Design

As already mentioned, SD-WAN brings enterprises benefits over traditional WAN when it comes to bandwidth and connection issues. But that’s just a general idea of how SD-WAN can help streamline network functionality.

Not all applications carry an equal importance with an organization. It’s a lot less important to be able to stream videos on YouTube on enterprise networks than it is to be able to use video conferencing and cloud applications. SD-WAN alleviates issues related to this by allowing internal management of connection prioritization.

There are certain functions that can cause major problems if they lose connection for even a few seconds. With customizable policy-based routing, combined with governance prioritization, enterprises can rest easier knowing they won’t be dealing with outages or brownouts during critical times.

Better Performance Across the Board

Of course, there’s more to networks than just the speed and efficiency of connections. There are also massive concerns related to security that needs to be addressed within every organization. With SD-WAN, this can be done in a few ways.

First, automatic encryption and routing means data will be far more secure. The safety of data needs to be a top priority for any business, not just large enterprises. Breaches can actually be even more costly for smaller organizations, evidenced by the fact about 60 percent of small businesses go under in the six months following an attack. It’s far harder to protect against these threats when your network is too distributed and lacks centralized security and compliance measures.

Furthermore, traditional WAN just doesn’t offer the same kind of visibility over applications as SD-WAN. With the latter, you can track how different apps are being used, as well as how much bandwidth they’re actually consuming. This lets you gradually improve governance policies for better functionality.

It’s important to understand the differences between traditional WAN and SD-WAN. When you see the ways they diverge in functionality, it becomes clear SD-WAN is the superior choice for enterprises today.

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