SD-WAN – What is all the fuss about?

Gartner says software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) will grow to become a $1.3 billion market by 2021*, growing at a 59 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

According to Framingham,Massachusetts-based International Data Corporation (IDC) the infrastructure market for SD-WAN is predicted to expand at a 30.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2018 to 2023, reaching $5.25 billion, according to IDC’s SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast.

Frost & Sullivan is only slightly less bullish, measuring the SD-WAN market at a mere $593 million in 2017 but expecting it to reach $4.4 billion by 2023.


So why are organisations moving to SD-WAN based networks?


The emergence of a widening variety of latency-sensitive and bandwidth-heavy applications is driving a need for increased demands on corporate networks, while at the same time reinforcing a certain cost consciousness and security awareness. Increasingly, data traffic no longer lives solely within the confines of a corporate data network. The trends to leverage cloud platforms such as UCaaS, CRM, and email are also changing corporate WAN requirements. SD-WAN can meet these needs and can be used in conjunction with any other network technologies, including broadband, MPLS, Ethernet, 4G/5G wireless, DSL, private fibre networks, and satellite.


How does SD-WAN work?

SD-WAN evaluates network traffic patterns and chooses the most efficient route across the network in real-time. It can combine multiple lower-cost networks that have variable performance characteristics, and even combine them with guaranteed quality more expensive networks like MPLS to achieve even better performing networks than any individual network alone.


An SD-WAN network continuously monitors performance feedback telemetry across an end to end SD-WAN deployment and makes dynamic packet or session level data decision as to which path network traffic will use. If broadband is performing better than MPLS in that particular moment, it will choose the broadband connection. It also has the ability to prioritize traffic based on user defined rules, ensuring the most important or network sensitive traffic is handled accordingly.


SD-WAN also enhances network efficiency by leveraging some of the most important characteristics of the cloud; namely fully leveraging the many-to-many connections possible with the internet, instead of transmitting data from point-to-point in predefined networks utilizing the old hub-and-spoke or star models, thereby adding to latency and cost. To further enhance cloud-based application performance, some SD-WAN providers also have direct connections into the most popular cloud-based applications and global data centre providers, enabling customers to leverage their networks’ SD-WAN edge deployments.


Other SD-WAN providers have their own backbone network, with dedicated high performing network connections regionally or around the globe, providing a high performing express route for more reliable connectivity to countries, where internet latency can often be a problem.

The ability of SD-WAN to dynamically make a decision on where to route traffic makes it an ideal solution for higher reliability networks. Multiple service providers can be used in an all-active configuration in order to minimize the impact of an outage. As always, establishing a service level agreement targeting your company’s needs and resources is also highly beneficial. Pre-SD-WAN technology was not very friendly to managing multiple simultaneous networks, at times requiring backup networks to remain dormant awaiting an outage, or taking too long to transition and reroute traffic, which would drop calls and other network sensitive applications. SD-WAN allows for the simultaneous use of the backup network, achieving more combined bandwidth availability and higher performance than any single network due to dynamic routing.

“Mid-size and small enterprises are moving quickly to cloud, with large enterprises consideration rates increasing more each day,” said Gary Levy, VP Worldwide Alliances and Channels at Oracle Communications. “As mission critical applications are sourced across cloud environments, enterprises are re-thinking how they are leveraging MPLS. We find that enterprises are reducing expensive point to point MPLS circuits, increasing usage of less expensive broadband internet, and rapidly deploying SD-WAN.”


Tagoro works with the world’s leading providers of SD-WAN services. Contact us to learn more about SD-WAN and how it could revolutionise your network.