Choosing the right type of network for your organization is key to its success. The longer it takes your employees to carry out their work, the more it impacts your bottom line profits. Right now companies everywhere are deciding whether to upgrade their networks from traditional Wide-Area Networks (WAN), that are the digital foundation of every organization, to take the plunge into software-defined wide area networks (SD -WAN). But no one should take this jump without considering all the information available.
SD-WAN is described as the next evolution of technology that will replace MPLS. It has been marketed in a way that suggests SD-WAN will offer more redundancy and reduce carrier costs. It’s also publicised that SD-WAN creates full Quality of Service (QOS) over the internet for the most critical apps and offers SLAs that match any other service.
The truth is that SD-WAN is a software play, even though it is being described as a new communications protocol (which it is not). In Wide Area Networking (WAN) we have seen the evolution from Frame Relay, to ATM and now to MPLS which offers the greatest level of QoS within a closed and controlled environment. SD-WAN doesn’t add anything to that evolution.
SD-WAN is actually a software solution that the market is calling Software Defined (SD) – which is a term that has been hijacked from the virtualization world. Software Defined Networking (SDN) is a concept of virtualizing network hardware (routers, switches, etc.) the way that we have virtualized PCs and servers.
However, what SD-WAN actually does is give a little more administrative control in the hands of end users who normally do not have the expertise or the knowledge to manually manage routing protocols and QoS settings.
Many SD-WAN providers have cropped up, promising the same quality as private corporate networks at a fraction of the cost. The cost savings occur because they are selling internet circuits, not the higher cost corporate communications circuits like MPLS which carry with them best in class Service Level Agreements (SLA’s). Since the marketplace is largely uneducated on matters relating to communications, they look at these services like a commodity and are drawn to the idea of lower cost, without understanding that they are merely purchasing an offering that is of lower quality and more akin to a “blast from the past." What current SD-WAN providers are marketing is an old concept that sends your sensitive data over encryption protocols at Layer 3 which remove any ability to perform QoS plus reduce the efficiency of their communications. This is why you will hear language from SD-WAN providers that are talking about “4 or 5 Nines of Up Time." As Prince would say, “You’ll be partying like it’s 1999!”
The mere mention of these facts to an SD-WAN provider are quickly met with their concepts of a hybridized solution, where they will suddenly claim that you don’t have to replace your MPLS, merely use the Internet circuits for different types of communications, or backup. Why not design your MPLS network correctly in the first place?
The reality is that the SD portion of SD-WAN is already starting to be incorporated into private networks, like SD-WAN over MPLS. As the marketplace begins to understand the stunt that is being sold, they will go back to their Enterprise-Class connections, but will also wish to have some of the administrative control over their connections that the software defined component of SD-WAN has to offer.
Please talk to Cywest for more information.