If you’ve been working in technology for a few years, you’ve probably encountered a couple of different types of connections that are used to deliver data from one location to another.

Take WAN (wide area network) connections, for instance. These are typically used by large organizations to connect multiple branch offices into a single, unified infrastructure. Throughout this article, you’ll see SD-WAN explained in an engaging manner.


But what about SD-WAN? This is a relatively new term that’s being thrown around a lot lately, especially by vendors and service providers. As the name suggests, it’s related to wide area networks but much more advanced and efficient when compared to traditional implementations.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN means software-defined wide area network (WAN). In other words, it’s an overlay network that intelligently manages traffic across multiple underlay networks — including public internet connections — via policy control. It offers an alternative to traditional router-centric WANs by decoupling the network hardware from its control mechanism.

SD-WAN uses software-defined networking principles and virtualization technologies to improve performance and minimize costs.

Why do you need SD-WAN

SD-WAN is a disruptive technology that has the potential to eliminate MPLS. A dedicated, enterprise-grade connection with built-in security and service-level agreements (SLAs), MPLS was once the only option for WAN connections.

But it’s expensive and inflexible. For example, customers often have to purchase a minimum of five MPLS links when only one is needed to meet their requirements. If a business outgrows its capacity, they need to order more links, which might take weeks, if not months.

That’s where SD-WAN comes in. It reduces costs, increases flexibility, and enables easy integration of new technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and VoIP into your WAN architecture — all while maintaining the highest level of security.