What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networks) is an application of SDN (Software Defined Networking). SD-WAN is used for connecting enterprise networks including multiple locations and data centers, separated by geographical distances through the cloud.
How is it Different from MPLS?
MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) can also be used to connect multiple office locations, however, it is done so using proprietary hardware which can be an expensive affair. Unlike MPLS, where you have to have one single provider to service every location you are networking with, SD-WAN allows you to use local providers, as they are usually much more cost efficient than the large MPLS provider. SD-WAN also seeks to considerably reduce costs by leveraging the software approach and using the cloud instead of being hardware intensive (however, it does not completely eliminate hardware). Also, unlike MPLS, SD-WAN comes with no bandwidth limitations.
Underlying Architecture of SD-WAN
Picture SD-WAN as the overarching umbrella: This umbrella can fit different types of data channels such as MPLS, 4G LTE, Cable, Broadband. This means that SD-WAN can operate on different types of connections/channels across different locations and is not limited to just one. SD-WAN also allows you to combine all of the internet connections at one location to make one large data pipe. For example, if a location has 50Mb Fiber internet, with a 20Mb cable connection as a backup, SD-WAN aggregates this so that the location now has a 70Mb connection at all times. If the 50Mb connection goes down, the internet never drops because the 20Mb pipe stayed up the whole time. This drastically reduces the likelihood that your dealership will ever completely lose internet service.
Benefits of SD-WAN
- Cost Effective: SD-WAN eliminates expensive hardware costs by provisioning connectivity through the cloud. MPLS networks can be as much as 90% more expensive than Internet (WAN Experts, 2017), and since SD-WAN can use different data channels, dealers can rely on other options (Broadband, 4G LTE, etc.) to drive down costs.
- Security: SD-WAN provides end-to-end encryption throughout the network.
- Network Reliability: Dealers can plug in backup data (redundancy purposes) into the dual port firewall and run them in active/active configuration at the same time. If the main data line goes down, the backup automatically picks up and there is no lag in business.
- Visibility & Control: The routers placed at each location offer analytics in the form of a real-time outage tracker through an online portal. This allows to see which specific router and location is experiencing lags, and therefore, Quality of Service (QoS) can be monitored at the granular level.
- Scalability: SD-WAN controls the allocation of bandwidth, not the carrier. So dealerships can increase bandwidth for peak hours for a busier location at a moment’s notice and ensure important applications get the bandwidth they require.
- Flexibility: Different locations don’t need to have the same carrier or data service provider as the corporate, allowing locations more flexibility to choose the local/regional best.
- Silver Peak
You can find more information about these SD-WAN providers here.
Future of SD-WAN
This technology is fairly new in the market but growing rapidly in popularity. A new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 70% and reach $8.05 billion in 2021. (International Data Corporation, 2017).
What this Means for Dealers
This means that MPLS and other networking choices may be outmoded in the near future. In order to stay ahead of the competition, dealerships need to embrace newer and more efficient technology. Now is the time to question your technology choices and find answers about how to make the switch. At Gillrie Institute, we have helped over 7,000 dealers in US and Canada to dramatically reduce technology expenses and get them the right system for the best possible price and terms. For more information, you can reach us at:
Author: Ishani Taneja, Market Research Analyst, Gillrie Institute Contributor: Jenna Jackson, Up To Speed Telecom.