What Does SD WAN Do: A Guide to Conquer Network Complexity

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Eric Murrell

Sr. VP of Sales
what does sd wan do

Are you still running your business with a sluggish old Wide Area Network (WAN)? Organizations like yours may be expanding by adding SaaS applications and cloud data centers. Managing the WAN environment with a focus on hardware and manual configurations appears more complex. If you move to SD-WAN, you can solve these complexities quickly. But, what does SD-WAN do?

Traditional WANs are expensive, lack agility, latency, and have scalability issues. SD-WANs are an innovative solution to these challenges. It offers improved performance and resiliency by routing traffic at the software level and aggregating multiple network connections. It is also a more flexible and scalable solution to work with an increasingly remote and mobile workforce.

SD-WAN creates a software overlay and simplifies management. Besides, it allows for increased bandwidth. It provides direct connectivity to cloud data centers. Moreover, it reduces latency to enhance the performance of corporate apps migrated to the cloud. In this blog, you will learn more details about SD-WAN technology.

You may have already searched SD WAN, as explained. Still, you may not understand the ideas behind it. Indeed, it allows enterprises to use any combo of transport services (like MPLS, LTE, and broadband internet). It helps in reducing costs, improving application performance, and optimizing user experience for software-as-a-service (SaaS) and public-cloud applications.

What about SD WAN meaning? Well, the full form of it is Software-Defined Wide Area Network. It uses a centralized control plane to route traffic. In this way, it allows administrators to write rules and policies and deploy them across an entire network at once. It also uses automation to simplify connectivity across mixed environments, including on-premises, hybrid, and cloud.

This network abridges private network connectivity into a software layer. In this way, it gives branch offices direct access to the cloud. Hence, SD-WAN separates the software-based control plane from the hardware-based data plane. This separation enables routing to occur in software that runs on commodity hardware rather than in specialized hardware routers.

Core Principles of SD-WAN

Decoupling of Control and Data Planes
Separating the network’s hardware from its control mechanism. It allows for a simplified, software-based approach to managing network traffic to make the network more agile and easier to manage.
Dynamic Traffic Steering
Directing traffic across the network intelligently and choosing the most efficient and reliable path for each data packet.
Application-Aware Routing
Identification and classification of different types of app traffic to make routing decisions.
Centralized Orchestration

Providing a centralized platform for managing network operations. It uses a central controller to dictate the function of SD-WAN appliances and reduces the need for individual gateway or router management.

What is SD WAN

Why Your Business Needs SD-WAN: From Laggard to Leader in a Flash

I guess you can recall the old dial-up days. During then, even simple web browsing felt like watching grass grow. In this sense, we may feel traditional WANs are outdated. Of course, they can do their jobs, but what about today’s fast-paced digital world? They cannot fulfill the need for speedy, affordable, and flexible internet.

To overcome the limitations like slow speeds, high costs, and inflexibility of traditional WANs, SD-WAN is the better solution for enterprises and businesses. Below are some reasons to ditch the old WANs and embrace this new architecture:

Benefits of SD WAN for Businesses

Benefits of SD WAN for Businesses
SD-WAN aggregates diverse connections, like broadband and MPLS, creating a superhighway for your data.
Reduce Expenses
It leverages the cost-effective power of the internet. You only pay for what you use, and with smarter traffic routing, you waste less bandwidth.
Adapt and Conquer
Adding new locations, changing bandwidth needs, or adjusting security policies – SD WAN is helpful.
Enhanced Network Security
Protect your system from data breaches and cyber-attacks with built-in security features like encryption, access control, and intrusion detection.
Centralized Control, Effortless Management
SD-WAN brings order to the chaos with a single, centralized dashboard. You can monitor performance, tweak settings, and manage your entire network from one place.

SD WAN vs. Traditional WAN (SD-WAN vs. MPLS)

I have just talked about it. You can consider traditional WAN as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). In this part, I will explain the comparison in details.

Traditional WAN

Traditional WAN

Traditional WANs are built using hardware products like routers to connect distributed locations. They rely heavily on manual configurations. It can provide a high level of control over policy configurations. However, it also introduces significant complexity and overhead.

Moreover, MPLS networks can be complex to manage. It requires specialized skills and expertise. They are difficult to scale as adding new sites or increasing bandwidth can be time-consuming and expensive.

MPLS is a transport protocol used in traditional networking. It can move data packets to a destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, it needs the installation of physical circuits at sites where data exchange is needed. It travels along predetermined paths, which can be less flexible and cost-effective.

Now, the question is “Can SD WAN replace MPLS?” Well, SD-WAN is a software-based approach to managing the WAN. It is an evolution from  traditional MPLS technology. It enables customers to prioritize critical business traffic. Also, it takes advantage of a variety of transport methods, like MPLS circuits, direct internet broadband, and LTE/5G.

Traditional WAN is typically highly secure. It uses dedicated circuits and leased lines to ensure data confidentiality and integrity. But it is designed for networking, not for security. It doesn’t typically provide encryption. Again, all traffic needs to be inspected for security purposes.

This network architecture provides a reliable, fixed level of bandwidth. However, today’s traffic has performance requirements that can be highly unpredictable. So, it may not always be able to meet these requirements.

MPLS remains a relevant and efficient solution for network connectivity in certain industries, like defense or healthcare, and the move to SD-WAN is accelerating rapidly.


SD-WAN vs. Traditional WAN

Alternatively, software-defined WAN operates on a software overlay with all routing decisions made at the software level. This allows the use of public internet for transport and reduces networking costs. It can go directly to the cloud and reduce the need to route data through the data center or over the carrier network.

Hence, the SD-WAN solutions provide centralized management for deploying and monitoring all functions. It includes networking, traffic management, and security components and policies. Additionally, this networking allows organizations to increase available bandwidth with widely available broadband offerings.

SD-WAN provides organizations with the flexibility to route data along the best available path. It allows businesses to reduce costs. They can dynamically route traffic over multiple network paths. They allow organizations to respond quickly to changing network conditions. However, these WANs may be less secure than traditional WANs as they rely on the public Internet to transport traffic.

These networks combine networking and security, unlike traditional WANs. They can provide robust security with traffic encryption during transit. Also, they allow customers to choose between on-premises or cloud-native security capabilities that protect against the latest cyber threats.

SD-WAN recognizes applications. It can adapt bandwidth and other services accordingly. Plus, it can initiate multiple parallel connections and provide granular load balancing between them. Even it can fail over to a new connection should there be a drop in available bandwidth.

Many companies are now using both MPLS and SD-WAN solutions. It is because some of them hesitate to move too quickly to new technology. Also, transitioning away from legacy technologies like MPLS takes time and effort.

Basic Functionalities – What Does SD-WAN Do?

According to Cisco, software-defined wide area network chooses the smoothest, fastest path for your data. More precisely, it acts like a hyper-intelligent traffic control system to monitor systems constantly. In this part, I will discuss the functions of SD-WAN.

Dynamic Traffic Routing

SD-WAN’s controller continuously analyzes network performance. It measures factors like latency, packet loss, and jitter that slow down your data. It also keeps tabs on the application types traveling across the network. However, it always gives priority to critical business apps like video conferencing or VoIP over less time-sensitive ones.

Based on this real-time intelligence, the controller makes dynamic routing decisions, steering data packets to the best available path at any given moment. It means choosing a low-latency broadband link for a video call or routing bulk file transfers over a high-bandwidth MPLS connection. It may also refer to sending less-sensitive traffic over the internet to save costs.

SD-WAN can identify different application types. Then, it customizes routing decisions to their specific needs. For example, it can prioritize latency-sensitive voice and video traffic. In this way, it ensures crystal-clear calls and smooth video conferences, even during peak network congestion.

This network architecture uses a technique called load balancing to maximize every available connection. It distributes traffic intelligently across multiple links. Through this, SD WAN prevents any single connection from becoming overloaded. The optimized bandwidth utilization ensures every byte of data gets where it needs to go as quickly as possible.

Resilience and Failover

Software-defined WAN doesn’t rely on a single internet connection or MPLS line. It aggregates diverse connections like broadband, cellular, and satellite to create a safety net for your data. If one connection fails, traffic is automatically rerouted to another. In this way, it ensures uninterrupted connectivity even during unexpected outages.

You may love the automatic failover feature of SD-WAN. Its intelligent controller constantly monitors network health. Then, it triggers automatic failover the moment it detects a connection issue. This happens so quickly (often in milliseconds) that most users don’t even notice the switch. So there will be no productivity disruptions and frustrating downtime.

Another feature is this network architecture is disaster recovery ready. Beyond everyday outages, SD-WAN helps you prepare for the worst. By geographically distributing your network connections and leveraging cloud-based resources, you can minimize the impact of natural disasters or regional disruptions.

Cloud Connectivity and Security

Traditional WANs often struggle to handle the dynamic nature of the cloud. They lead to frustrating performance issues and exposure to security vulnerabilities. However, SD-WAN bridges the gap, and creates a secure and efficient highway to your cloud resources.

It lets you bypass circuitous connections and establish direct, private tunnels to your preferred cloud providers, like AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. It minimizes latency and packet loss. As a result, you get snappy performance and a seamless user experience for your cloud applications.

SD-WAN integrates robust security features like encryption, access control, and intrusion detection right into its core. It protects your sensitive data as it travels to and from the cloud. Besides, it mitigates the risk of cyberattacks and unauthorized access.

Embrace the “never trust, always verify” mantra with SD-WAN’s zero-trust network access (ZTNA) capabilities. Instead of granting open access to your cloud resources, it continuously verifies every user and device before granting access. Also, it limits the attack surface and prevents unauthorized intrusions.

SD-WAN seamlessly integrates remote locations with your cloud environment. It offers secure and consistent access to cloud applications for all your users. This simplifies IT management, reduces costs, and empowers your entire workforce.

Do you need to adapt to changing cloud needs? No problem! SD-WAN’s flexibility allows you to easily add new cloud services, migrate workloads, and adjust security policies. This agility ensures your network keeps pace with your evolving cloud strategy.

Centralized Management and Visibility

You can monitor the performance of software-defined WANs in real-time. So, gain instant insights into network health, bandwidth usage, application performance, and even granular details like individual link performance.

SD-WANs help to tweak settings with ease. So, there will be no need to adjust traffic routing priorities, update security policies, or configure new branch offices. You can do these jobs with just a few clicks through the centralized management console.

The built-in analytics and reporting tools help to identify potential issues before they impact your users. They allow us to take proactive steps to prevent downtime and ensure optimal performance. Again, the automation abilities of SD-WAN let you automate routine tasks like provisioning new sites, deploying updates, and enforcing security policies. 

Advanced Capabilities – What More Can SD WAN Do?

Besides the key functionalities (how does SD WAN work?), it can perform multiple other functions.

Zero-Touch Provisioning and Automation

There will no longer be IT technicians sweating over endless cables and configurations. Simply plug in the preconfigured SD-WAN appliance at your new location, connect to the internet, and voila! It automatically downloads the necessary settings, connects to your network, and starts working seamlessly.

Zero-touch provisioning slashes deployment times from days or weeks to minutes. It allows your new office to be up and running in record time. This boosts productivity and saves your business valuable resources.

You can find it less interesting that IT personnel travel to every new location. This function lets you deploy new network branches remotely, even in far-flung corners of the globe, with minimal effort and maximum efficiency. Moreover, this feature eliminates the risk of typos or misconfigurations during manual setup, ensuring a consistent and reliable network experience across all your locations.

Then again, you can update security policies, bandwidth allocations, or application priorities easily. Once you do these works, they’ll automatically be applied across your entire network. As a result, you can save your precious time and ensure consistent implementation.

SD-WAN’s automated troubleshooting and remediation features quickly identify and resolve problems before they impact your users. It keeps your network running smoothly. Besides, it automatically deploys new firmware and software updates. So,  the network is always up-to-date with the latest security patches and features.

Branch Office Optimization

Let’s talk about another capability – branch office optimization. You do not need to wait for apps to load or video calls to buffer. SD-WAN intelligently optimizes traffic routing and prioritizes critical business applications. So, you can relax by providing the right bandwidth to your remote employees.

Software-defined WAN seamlessly integrates with cloud services. It allows remote users to access cloud applications directly. They can bypass congested internet gateways and enjoy faster, more reliable performance. Moreover, the architecture of it is compact and efficient without any dedicated server or firewall.

Centralized security features extend protection to all your branch offices. The unified management console also lets you monitor performance, adjust settings, and troubleshoot issues from a single point of control.

What are the Benefits of Implementing SD WAN?

Do you plan to deploy SD-WAN for your business? If so, this part is only for you. Implementing this WAN saves a lot of money for optimizations. This is because it has enhanced network visibility, scalability, bandwidth optimization, and application performance than traditional WAN. Below, you can learn about SD WAN’s benefits.

Optimizing Network Costs

SD-WAN allows businesses to break free from expensive MPLS circuits and enjoy cost-effective connectivity. It leverages a combination of different connection types like broadband, 5G, or satellite. Moreover, businesses can only pay for what they use for its flexible bandwidth utilization.

SD-WAN also supports multi-link aggregation. For this, businesses can harness the power of multiple connections for maximum efficiency. It increases available bandwidth and improves network resilience and performance.

Enhancing Agility and Scalability

Software-defined networks provide the agility to deploy and configure new network locations rapidly. With its zero-touch provisioning capabilities, new devices can be automatically configured and integrated into the network. It reduces the time and effort required to set up new locations.

In addition, this network supports seamless network expansion to scale the network as the businesses grow. With SD-WAN architecture, it can easily adapt to evolving technologies and business needs.

SD-WAN with Security as a Service (SECaaS)

You can integrate this network with Security as a Service (SECaaS) to provide the next level of WAN security. This integration combines the networking capabilities of SD-WAN with cloud-based security services. Together, they provide comprehensive threat protection and zero-trust access control.

Centralized Management and Visibility

SD-WAN offers centralized management and visibility. It provides a single pane of glass for monitoring and managing the entire WAN. This enables IT administrators to gain real-time performance insights and exercise granular policy control. Also, it helps to simplify network management and reduce complexity.

Frequently Asked Questions

SD WAN architecture devises data flow across multiple internet connections and cloud services. It ensures the smoothest, most efficient journey for your business-critical applications.
Software-defined WAN boosts network speed and reliability by reducing latency and increasing responsiveness. It optimizes the bandwidth usage to save more money, unlike traditional WAN or MPLS. Also, it can solve the problem of adding new locations or adapting to changing needs for its architecture.
Yes, it is for your business if you are having issues like slow application performance, frequent outages and connectivity issues, and high network costs. SD-WAN offers businesses with multiple locations, cloud-based applications, remote workforces, and growing IT demands.
Security is built into SD-WAN’s core, not bolted on as an afterthought. It offers features like encryption, access control, threat detection, and prevention.

Nybsys and SD-WAN Solutions

What does SD WAN do? – Thanks for coming here to Nybsys’s blog to understand the topic. I hope you have understood the topic well.

Now, we have some forget clunky hardware and rigid network configurations of traditional WAN. Nybsys brings a refreshing wave of flexibility and agility with its Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solution.
Our SD-WAN facilitates your business by –

  • Smart routing
  • Consistent connectivity
  • Cost optimization
  • Centralized control
  • Cloud-native scalability

Nybsys’ SD-WAN is not just about connecting your network, it’s about empowering it. By injecting intelligence, flexibility, and cost-efficiency, we help businesses of all sizes unlock the full potential of their digital infrastructure.

Let Nybsys guide your network into the future of the internet.

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