SD-WAN is the evolution of networking. Here’s Why:

October 17 2017, by Michael Davies | Category: Telecom

There’s been a lot of hype around SD-WAN in recent months, as carriers look to get in on a market estimated to be worth tens of billions of dollars over the next few years.

It’s important to consider what is driving the hype beyond this technology, and what does it mean for how Australian and New Zealand businesses will shape their networks?

The truth is that this technology is the next evolution in networking. Just as multiprotocol label switching – or MPLS as most of us know it – put its predecessors like frame relay to the sword, SD-WAN is here to eventually do the same.

As our group executive Luke Clifton so elegantly put it, this is “the most exciting development in the market since the dawn of 3G.”

SD-WAN has the power to take networking discussions away from traditional features and onto applications. This is where the fun is – not the underlying networks on which they run.

If you’re driving a Ferrari, you’re probably less excited about the road you’re travelling on. Roads only come into the thought process when the driving experience is hampered – potholes, traffic jams, etc.

With SD-WAN, these potholes and traffic jams can become a thing of the past and businesses can realise new benefits simply not possible before.

Consider how most business networks operate today.

Most have a range of pipes connecting to all their sites and a router at each site managing how they all connect. These pipes and routers differ depending on the bandwidth needed at each site, for the most part they’re similar.

Most businesses have central internet access running on top of that through which sites connect to reach external information and applications.

This type of set-up has generally been the favoured option – it involves a combination of routers with network infrastructure and overall provides a secure and stable experience. It can also be improved with a series of features such as quality of service (QoS) to help manage data traffic within the network.

Having an effective network is paramount to all businesses – everything from email, processing invoices, conference calling, and more complex digital activities such as data science and analytics, all rely on a connected network to perform.

So, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? Why is SD-WAN growing so rapidly?

I believe the true value of SD-WAN is its ability to make the pipes ‘dumb’. That might sound strange, but what it means is that the pipes are no longer where the magic happens.

SD-WAN moves this value via software to the edge devices and applications at each site – the instruments businesses use to construct their digital identities.

You no longer need features like QoS to manage data within your network – you control it at the application level. SD-WAN does not need the best or most expensive pipes to bring you a business-level service, it works with what you’ve got.

This spells trouble for tier-one telecoms companies, which collectively have spent billions of dollars on the biggest and best pipes, but it’s great news for the customer.


This article first appeared in IT Brief on 17th October 2017. Read the full article here