SD-WAN Explained: A Comprehensive Overview

SD-WAN technology enables companies to improve online performance, communication, and collaboration. It’s a form of SDN (Software-Defined Networking) that applies to WAN connections, such as broadband and 4G links.

It allows businesses to reduce reliance on costly MPLS and improve application performance. It also provides a better user experience for remote workers.


SD-WAN is a cost-effective way to optimize cloud and on-premises application performance with real-time analytics. However, there are multiple areas to look at from a total cost perspective, including the SD-WAN vendor appliance and license costs, network connectivity, security, management, and professional services consultancy.

Traditional WANs require backhauling all traffic to the data center – including traffic destined for the cloud – which introduces latency and impairs performance. SD-WAN is designed to eliminate this problem by enabling application policies that align with business intent and intelligently steering traffic across available networks, including low-cost internet links.

Businesses can realize significant savings over MPLS and other private WAN connectivity solutions by leveraging a public internet backbone for all WAN traffic between branches and data centers. Furthermore, SD-WAN can support hybrid connectivity to the cloud and on-premises applications with performance similar to an MPLS link.

In addition to reducing connectivity costs, SD-WAN enables organizations to reduce hardware and operating expenses by centralizing management. An SD-WAN solution’s unified control and management framework allows IT teams to manage firewalls, routers, virtual private networks (VPN), advanced security services, and remote clients through a straightforward interface. It reduces the need for separate point solutions, simplifies troubleshooting and deployment, and minimizes labor costs. It is an essential consideration for a business that has a distributed workforce.


The scalability of SD-WAN makes it a cost-effective solution for businesses of any size. Because it centralizes control and management via a network administrator and uses algorithms to direct traffic, the technology limits the number of hardware devices installed at each branch office. It translates into significant cost savings for IT teams.

SD-WAN can also help improve IT agility and performance. The technology supports application performance and reliability by prioritizing mission-critical applications over low-priority ones. Additionally, it ensures that high-bandwidth applications (like videoconferencing) are sent over the most robust connections. It can be accomplished through dynamic path selection, which routes traffic over the best possible paths based on current network conditions.

Finally, SD-WAN can reduce costs by leveraging low-cost internet connections for application traffic and saving more expensive MPLS circuits for business-critical or sensitive data. Companies that use multiple WAN links can benefit from SD-WAN, which lowers network costs while maintaining performance and reliability.

In addition, a good SD-WAN solution should support transport independence, enabling IT to connect to the business network regardless of the carrier that provides connectivity. It should also offer advanced security features such as a next-generation firewall, a secure web gateway, and advanced cyber threat protection. It is essential to select an SD-WAN solution with integrated artificial intelligence for IT operations, which can automate manual tasks and speed up problem resolution.


SD-WAN allows you to use cheaper broadband Internet for some data instead of expensive MPLS connections. This flexibility reduces costs and improves network performance by prioritizing real-time services and directing business-critical traffic over the most efficient routes. It also lets you vary bandwidth access based on your business needs and optimizes bandwidth using compression and deduplication.

In addition to improving application performance, SD-WAN explained can simplify the deployment and management of branch office routers. It creates an overlay network that can replace legacy routers, making deploying new services and connecting remote locations easy. It also decouples hardware from control and allows you to remotely monitor, upgrade, and manage your firewalls, routers, and other devices.

An SD-WAN solution can help you save money by reducing reliance on costly MPLS links between the branch and central offices. The solution can also enable a direct internet breakout of IaaS and SaaS applications from the branch, which can eliminate the need for costly backhauling over leased lines. Promoting cloud-based applications can help you minimize operating expenses and increase productivity. Additionally, it can ensure that employees can always access the data they need from cloud-based applications when working remotely or at home. The technology also helps secure connectivity by encrypting data to prevent third parties from intercepting sensitive information over the internet.


The security measures that SD-WAN implements are vital to the solution’s overall effectiveness. Depending on your selected provider, these can range from NGFW (next-generation firewall) to CASB (cloud access security broker). Some services utilize AI and ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning) to predict and mitigate cyber threats.

Unlike traditional router-centric models that rely on TCP/IP addresses and ACLs to control traffic, SD-WAN prioritizes applications and routes traffic based on application. It improves data transfer speeds and delivers a better user experience to employees.

SD-WAN also offers more flexibility for data protection by offloading internet traffic to local ISP connections at branch offices. It enables businesses to lower private circuit costs and increase available bandwidth while providing the same secure connectivity.

In addition, SD-WAN links multiple network transport modes to deliver real-time application transmission. It eliminates the need to upgrade costly MPLS contracts or lay optical fiber to new branches and reduces capital expenses for hardware in the DC. Lastly, SD-WAN can leverage NFV (network functions virtualization) to separate communications services from hardware. It allows you to deploy more agile and scalable solutions for remote sites, optimizes WAN performance, and provides zero-touch deployment and management.