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Your Company Could Be Saving on IT with SD-WAN

News > Your Company Could Be Saving on IT with SD-WAN

Your Company Could Be Saving on IT with SD-WAN


In the year since we first wrote about SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networks), we’ve gotten a lot of questions about it from companies looking to save money on IT. With enterprise-level WANs becoming more complex and expensive to manage, SD-WAN is stepping in to provide a simpler and more cost-effective option. Its impact on data centers, where automation of systems is essential, can be huge. SD-WAN allows IT teams to create virtual networks at the enterprise level, allows for micro-segmentation, and integrates service chaining. The functionality of SD-WAN is slowly moving networking towards total automation.

Aside from its use in data centers, SD-WAN is helping lower the cost and complexity of enterprise WAN. Connecting dozens of remote offices together using carrier-based multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) is possible with the right connectivity, but expensive. Other broadband options provide much more bandwidth at a lower cost, but with limited functionality compared to MPLS.

For many companies, the best solution is using broadband connections to handle the majority of networking tasks, while reserving MPLS connections for mission- and time-critical data. It is possible to configure systems to handle this hybrid network, but implementation is complex and constant updates are required as network traffic changes. SD-WAN addresses these complexities and simplifies these hybrid networks with many benefits.

Cost effective: SD-WAN allows companies to rely less on expensive MPLS and more on cheaper broadband. SD-WAN actively measures network parameters to identify if the broadband connection will be able to handle voice or video traffic effectively. The technology can also be configured to reroute traffic to guarantee QOS (quality of service) if it is required for certain time periods. This allows companies to reduce expenses and increase broadband services.

Simplified operation: Hybrid WANs, involving both MPLS and broadband connections, are challenging to configure. Routing protocols will identify the shortest path but won’t account for changes in network traffic, resulting in lost packets, collisions and other congestion. IP SLA’s can override normal routing protocols but are just as difficult to configure properly.

SD-WAN works to automatically route and reroute traffic as network conditions allow. IT teams only need to set up the SD-WAN application, and the program will handle the details. This removes the complexity from the IT team and places it onto the SD-WAN to solve.

Flexible: The adaptations that SD-WAN provides changes the way WAN operates, providing additional flexibility to traditional services. In addition to the network flexibility, SD-WAN provides companies with improved flexibility as their IT teams and budget are no longer as constrained.

The biggest challenge before switching to SD-WAN lies in determining ROI. Capital and operating expenses need to be calculated to determine whether SD-WAN will reduce overall WAN costs. SD-WAN used in combination with more broadband links allows companies access to more bandwidth and private connections. However, companies that do not require private connections can rely solely on broadband.

ROI calculations will reveal if SD-WAN will reduce costs. Many MPLS providers lock users into multiyear contracts that can be hard to break. Early termination fees and service level agreements could add costs and lower ROI. Hardware replacement and depreciation are also factors. This hidden costs could outweigh potential savings.

When choosing an SD-WAN solution, it’s important to compare vendors. There are many different SD-WAN products on the market and they are not compatible with one another. Some programs focus on WAN layers, while others replace WAN hardware completely. Companies must factor in long-term plans, as changing SD-WAN programs in the future could be difficult.

Still, 90 percent of multi-location businesses Iwe talk to are good SD-WAN candidates. Concord Technology Group can show you the benefits and the challenges of this technology. To learn more, contact Scott Minor at 440.210.3244 or