What’s SD-WAN?

With everything going on these days, top-notch bandwidth is a number-one priority. Lots of businesses are leaning into cloud-based solutions to create optimal conditions for employees working from home. Today more than ever, your company needs a network that’s fast, reliable, user-friendly, and doesn’t fall short on performance. Could SD-WAN be the solution you’re searching for? Read on to learn about the up-and-coming technology.

Your internet service provider might recommend an SD-WAN solution to run your company like everyone’s working from the same place, even if they’re actually peppered across the province—or the planet.

An SD-WAN—a.k.a. Software-Defined Wide Area Network—is a relatively versatile and affordable means of keeping an IT network operating at full speed. Using specialized software, it’s also a way to build a larger, consolidated virtual network from various smaller, local ones.

An SD-WAN is a software-based solution that can run on one or more infrastructures, including fibre optics, cable, LTE, and even 5G. More so than a wireless network, using a Software-Defined WAN is all about bridging the gap, i.e. extending remote access to a company’s network and applications until a wired connection can be installed off premises.

SD-WAN architecture enables you to quickly add new sites to your corporate network—basically in seconds—without having to worry about which provider services which site. Plus, an SD-WAN optimizes network-wide bandwidth sharing, which in turn provides a noticeable boost to service quality across users.

To that end, it’s a much more versatile option than MPLS, which is a costlier and more robust networking solution in that it requires the same network infrastructure service area wide.

Digital transformation, telework…and SD-WAN?

In recent months, the digital transformation has gone into overdrive, compelling many industries to update their IT systems and upload some of their in-house tools to Web servers or the cloud. Plus, the business world has seen a shift to remote work that may be more long-lasting and pervasive than anyone could have predicted at the dawn of 2020.

Both of these trends are having a direct impact on the way organizations use their in-house networks, which often turns into rethinking how said networks are managed. So, is it the right time for you to invest in SD-WAN?

According to Pascal Allard, Senior Director CSE and Product Development at Fibrenoire, that’s not necessarily the right angle of approach. “Just because you’re expanding network access for telework doesn’t exactly mean you need to go SD-WAN shopping. But, if you’re making a major change to the way you use your corporate network, you’re going to need to review your IT security situation, which will likely lead you to carefully examine potential SD-WAN service providers,” he explains.

Allard says that the same goes for companies who want to automate operations, entirely or otherwise, and those who simply want to leverage IoT (Internet of Things). “Getting SD-WAN right can translate into real advantages—think of farmers installing crop sensors.”

All SD-WAN solutions are not created equal

SD-WAN solutions are not all built the same. Depending on who develops it, one solution may favour access to the developer’s own cloud and application services. Microsoft Azure, for instance, provides easy access to Office 365. To stand out from the competition, other providers will integrate a gateway to various applications into their own SD-WAN solution.

When it comes down to it, your solution should align with how your company operates in the virtual realm. Since it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, an ISP like Fibrenoire offers a wide variety of SD-WAN solutions and has the expertise to guide companies to the very best fit for them.

Buyer beware, though, price tags do vary. On top of that, you’ll need to think about securing your corporate network separately. SD-WANs are encrypted and generally equipped with a firewall, but external traffic management and protection against malware and phishing sites are not native features. In the end, this software tool is all about creating a virtual network for business both quickly and affordably.

“Remember, making the right choice boils down to matching client needs with the right SD-WAN vendor,” explains Maude Francoeur, Customer Network Specialist at Fibrenoire. “There’s no silver-bullet SD-WAN solution. It’s all about finding the one that’s tailored to your company’s unique needs.”

Although it’s one of the most important technological developments in recent years, SD-WAN still isn’t perfectly understood, implemented, optimized, or always necessary, even! Whatever the case may be, the experts at Fibrenoire are here to connect you to the right solutions for your business.

Four ways SD-WAN works for you

  • Aggregates links into a single virtual network: dynamic traffic flow distribution. SD-WAN technology sorts your data, then routes it to an available connection.
  • Centralizes management and visibility: enjoy a single platform for managing strategies (internal or private traffic flows), security rules, performance reports, and software intelligence.
  • Enhances security and provides encryption options: create tunnels to provide a secure path through a public link and optimize bandwidth.
  • It’s more robust than ever: SD-WAN makes your network more agile with an LTE or wired backup for when the power goes out.

To learn more, watch this free webinar on SD-WAN technology.

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