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Beyond the buzzword: what is SD-WAN technology?

If you have been following technological advances in computer science for a few years, there is no doubt that you have seen (probably several times) "the Next Big Thing", whether it's the "Big Data", the "Internet of Things", or the "cloud"; we are willing to bet a small $20 that you have already had your ears broken with one of these terms! To this list, you can now add SD-WAN technology.

Beyond the buzzword: what is SD-WAN technology?

A real buzzword, SD-WAN is indeed in vogue in all marketing teams, whether of telecommunications companies, managed service providers or equipment suppliers. But is SD-WAN technology really what it claims to be? Can we really talk about a smart network? We will shed some light on this technology.


Let's cut the crap! What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is the acronym for Software-Defined Wide Area Network. As its name suggests, SD WAN technology represents a completely new way to establish WAN networks based on software solutions. With the ever-increasing bandwidth needs of businesses, SD-WAN technology offers opportunities that were not available on the market just 10 years ago. It is of interest to many companies because it is a relevant option to enable them to considerably and flexibly optimize their network architecture. Thus, SD-WAN can take as many forms as there are specific needs among companies.


F-L-E-X-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y!

If you still haven't understood it, the main advantage of SD-WAN technology is its great flexibility. Do you want to significantly reduce your dependence on routing protocols, IP service level agreements and local loop availability? Do you want to add a high level of redundancy to your network without any effort? Would you like your network to be able to adapt easily to the most difficult conditions? By offering several solutions and network configurations for different types of companies, SD-WAN technology can take many forms.

How can SD-WAN technology optimize your network?

First, by combining dedicated connectivity solutions with high-speed public links. In other words, SD-WAN allows companies to benefit from several types of WAN access simultaneously, on different technologies (fiber, copper, cable, LTE)!

Then, by allowing the combination of several connectivity providers under a single network! All this creates a hybrid network where, for example, non-critical data could pass through a secure Internet tunnel, and sensitive data and applications could use an MPLS link. In this respect, the possibilities of SD-WAN technology are numerous, and it would be wise to know the needs and objectives of your company to take full advantage of them.

Finally, the other features of SD-WAN technology radically optimize the enterprise network through three distinct functions: application intelligence, which directs and prioritizes traffic by application; routing intelligence, which directs traffic to optimal real-time connectivity; and flow optimization, which includes the ability to correct packet loss for better performance. As a result, this topology can be brilliant, especially when multiple applications are hosted in the cloud or when bandwidth requirements increase, or simply if you want to standardize the user experience.

Are all SD-WAN solutions the same?

As we have seen, the possibilities of SD-WAN are numerous, and many suppliers are competing with each other to create "the" best product, the one that would be able to make your corporate network "smart". Thus, it is important to specify that not all the solutions proposed by the various SD-WAN manufacturers are the same: the right solution for every situation!

Nevertheless, SD-WAN technology is a concrete application of software engineering applied to wide area networks. As a result, its implementation rests on common characteristics, and all solutions are founded on the same design premises, which are based on a software design installed at the heart of physical equipment or on virtual servers. In this respect, despite the impressive number of manufacturers involved, SD-WAN solutions can all claim the same opportunities (see below). However, it is important to remember that it is rather the adequacy between the customer's needs and the possibilities of SD-WAN technology that will make all the difference in the informed choice of the solution offered by a manufacturer. In short, as far as the SD-WAN is concerned, since there is no "one size fits all", it will be necessary to choose a solution adapted to your specific needs.

The possibilities of SD-WAN technology


Aggregation of several links into a single virtual network: dynamic traffic flow distribution. The data is sorted by SD-WAN technology equipment before being routed to any of the available connections.

Contactless provisioning: ability to provision new sites (or terminals) via a central console.

Centralized management and visibility: a single platform to manage strategies (internal or private traffic flows), security rules, various performance reports, as well as software intelligence.

Bandwidth optimization: SD-WAN technology is compatible with traditional features such as QoS (quality of service) and Deep Packet Inspection.

Interoperability with other network services: equipment must be able to interact with third-party peripheral devices and products; they enable automation via DPI.

Increased security with encryption options: ability to create tunnels to provide a secure path through a public link and optimize bandwidth.

Increased robustness: SD-WAN increases network robustness by combining an LTE or wired backup in the event of power outages.

A virtual network like no other

As we have seen, SD-WAN technology is not just a simple buzzword. This new way of establishing software-based WAN networks provides real flexibility that offers very interesting possibilities for large enterprise networks. Since there are as many SD-WAN solutions as there are manufacturers, it is important to know your company's business needs and objectives in order to find and implement a solution that will optimize your network's performance.

For more than 12 years, Fibrenoire's mission has been to increase the performance of companies by optimizing their telecommunications infrastructures. Thanks to our consulting engineering approach, you will always know the facts about your connectivity needs. If you are interested in SD-WAN technology (or simply have questions about it), please do not hesitate to contact us to find out which solutions meet your specific needs and business objectives.

Maude Francoeur
Customer Network Specialist

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