SD-WAN - Navigating the Sea Change

There has been a great deal of hype around SD-WAN. As ‘cloud’ was a decade ago in hosting, SD-WAN has become the attention-grabbing moniker for marketers of WAN technology and services.

That said, the technology is maturing and gaining wide acceptance. Analysts Frost & Sullivan measured the SD-WAN market at a $593 million in 2017 but are expecting it to reach $4.4 billion by 2023.

Cloud consumption is major contributing factor toward its increasing popularity. With the drive to move applications to the cloud and the increasing mobility of workers, taking an application- / user-centric approach to network technology, design and management makes sense in many cases.

Tagoro recognise that navigating the noise can be a challenge. There’s a large mix of options from software vendors, MSPs and carriers (see here for our market overview blog). There are interesting niche players and emerging carriers and integrators you may not have heard of; major carriers who match your needs with a specific technology or in a certain region.

With forty plus ‘players’ in the market, you won’t have the time or energy to speak with all of them to work out best fit. With Tagoro you don’t have to.

We’ve created a research database covering the market that quickly allows you to compare and contrast the options out there, here.

Use Tagoro as a sounding board to break down the options and discuss use cases.

Once a shortlist is in place we put in touch with providers and work with them to help you get a fine-tuned service and the best deal.

Why is SD-WAN Gaining in Popularity

Gone are the days when all your business systems and data is centrally held in your company’s own DC. Even if you moved to one or two colocation centres, chances are your productivity apps, like MS Office, CRM, such as SalesForce and an increasing number of business applications have moved, or are moving to, a subscription-based model in the cloud.

This, particularly for businesses with distributed workers, is having a fundamental impact on wide-area network design and the technology adopted to support it.

Traditional WANs based on conventional routers are not optimised for cloud services. They typically require backhauling all traffic – including that destined for the cloud – from branch offices to a hub or central DC, where business applications and advanced security services are run.

Local internet breakout in branch offices may solve immediate access challenges for cloud services, but with little or no quality of service, lack of unified network controls and an increased security risk or security management challenge, on its own this potentially adds more problems than it solves.

Even with a well-designed network, routing data from a branch office to a central DC and out to the internet impairs application performance, potentially resulting in a poor user experience. Introduce longer distances, bandwidth heavy or latency sensitive applications and the affect becomes more pronounced.

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) has been designed to address this challenge and can be used in conjunction with other network technologies, including broadband, MPLS, Ethernet, 4G/5G wireless, ADSL 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 more expensive networks like MPLS to achieve even better performing connectivity than an individual network alone.

For example, if broadband is performing better than MPLS in that particular moment, it will choose the broadband connection. It also has the ability to prioritise 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 the many-to-many connections possible with the internet, instead of transmitting data from point-to-point in predefined networks utilising the old hub-and-spoke or star models, thereby adding to latency and cost.


It may be believed that SD-WAN is a replacement for MPLS. In reality, they are complementary. Many WAN deployments will include a mix of both.

A common SD-WAN deployment sees companies with dual MPLS circuits at each branch site continue with a hybrid strategy - that is broadband and MPLS circuits, with SD-WAN over the top. In some cases this may become dual internet, diversely routed.

By combining multiple links with application-driven traffic routing policies across them, centrally managed and orchestrated, allied with WAN optimisation, companies can securely, reliably and effectively use broadband to transport application traffic instead of simply using it as an idle backup.

Want to know more?

If you already know the basics and wish to understand more about the many providers out there are check out our SD-WAN provider overview.

If you wish discuss use cases, have help with requirements or want to engage any of these providers for a deeper discussion, do send us message or call.

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