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SD WAN: Exploring the benefits

Introduction

People often tell us they struggle to clarify the benefits they could expect from SD WAN, and how they might achieve them in their particular situation.  This makes it difficult to develop a case to adopt it.

Much of the material on SD WAN has been written by vendors for global enterprises, with relatively little for businesses consuming managed networks and covering a more regional or national footprint.   This course fills some of that gap, outlining in simple terms a number of SD WAN benefits, and how they’re achieved.

For this course we have assumed that you are

  • Currently using a traditional WAN, such as an MPLS or VPLS network
  • Considering or actively moving applications to Cloud (or digitalising)
  • Considering an SD WAN overlay for your network.

In this context, we’ll consider how an SD WAN network would compare technically, operationally and commercially to your traditional WAN.  We won’t try to turn you into an expert practitioner; just surface a number of SD WAN benefits in a single place.

A word about the cost benefits of SD WAN 

A newcomer reading about SD WAN over the last few years could have been forgiven for thinking that the rationale for deploying it was to reduce costs.    The vision of a global enterprise moving traffic away from MPLS onto the internet is one of the most frequently cited scenarios, and one in which a business could indeed expect to save money. 

However,

  • The internet is not universally cheaper than MPLS (especially in the UK), which means that nationally-focussed businesses do not see those cost benefits on that scale.
  • SD WAN brings its own costs (particularly with respect to hardware and licences), which we must take into account
  • To focus on costs is to miss out on a wide range of other benefits.

So, we have focussed this course initially on those wider benefits (while noting that many cost saving opportunities are just the flip side of the benefits we have covered here).    You can see some specific cost reduction examples in our ‘SD WAN circuit cost-reduction illustration’.

This course is arranged into three sections:

  • Performance benefits
  • Deployment benefits
  • In-life Management benefits