Networking is already a vast topic, but when you’re trying to build a large network that doesn’t really fit into a single, centralized location, things get even more complicated.
In general, this is describing a wide-area network, and building and planning such a network can take a major investment of time and energy.
To help you get ahead of the curve, this quick guide is going to discuss SD-WAN. It’s a powerful way to approach network design and management, and after you learn about it, it could save you a lot of time and money. It could also help you reimagine your whole network to great effect.
To begin with, SD-WAN stands for “software-defined wide area network.” What does that really mean?
It’s a WAN that uses software to make smart decisions about traffic management.
To explain in better terms, a WAN is a network that is spread across a large distance and doesn’t have a single, central location. As an example, cellular networks are WANs.
When the SD portion of the network kicks in, the WAN can suddenly incorporate a wider range of access types, points, and management. SD-WANs can seamlessly enable users to connect on one type (say WiFi) and switch to another (like 5G) without a disruption in service.
On top of that, the software definition allows the WAN to accommodate more traffic more efficiently than traditional WANs.
SD-WANs are capable of greater speeds and traffic management than traditional WANs, but that’s hardly the extent of benefits here.
SD-WANs can be optimized for cloud, SaaS, IaaS, and other modern technological applications. This allows you to use WAN principles without running into connection issues and broken communication when trying to incorporate cloud resources into the WAN.
This dynamic approach can lower infrastructure and management costs associated with maintaining your networks.
Considering all of this, SD-WAN shines in a handful of specific use cases.
For starters, it’s an ideal means of connecting enterprise networks to cloud resources. When you need to combine cloud with your own infrastructure, SD-WAN can often do it better than anything else.
It’s also great for improving security. Because SD-WAN can bridge different connection types, it can also be used to ensure that every connection type is up to par in terms of security measures. It also allows you to easily centralize your security decisions to get better consistency throughout the network.
Another advantage of SD-WAN is that it makes monitoring and managing a WAN easier. With software automation, you can easily record and view network statistics, informing your practices and empowering your IT staff. You can also easily disseminate adjustments to WAN management, allowing a smaller team to manage a massive network with surprisingly few man-hours.
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