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Busting 8 common myths surrounding SD-WAN

SD-WAN is set to totally change the rules of business


Sanjay Nahar

Senior Product Manager, Fixed Connectivity, Vodafone Global Enterprise

SD-WAN is totally changing the rules of business by providing enterprise decision makers with the ability to transform their business model. The technology promises to deliver the agility and flexibility needed to improve collaboration, accelerate innovation and deliver a sustained service for customers. 

However, the benefits of SD-WAN have often been miscommunicated or over-hyped, leading to confusion about what it can and can’t do. But, as a means of simplifying network architecture for greater predictability and control, it is a case of when, not if, your business adopts it.

In this blog, I will dispel the myths surrounding SD-WAN, discuss how it can integrate with existing infrastructures and create a platform to transform the way you operate.

Myth 1 – SD-WAN will replace MPLS 

Ensuring business-critical traffic and real-time applications run uninterrupted is crucial for your business operations. For example, the speed at which your locations can communicate, and the smooth running of customer-facing applications are all important and all rely on a robust, secure network that delivers 24/7.

Some providers will have you believe SD-WAN will replace MPLS. This is not the case, rather it will change the way both MPLS and Internet connectivity combine to deliver the agile, cost-effective connectivity that your business needs.

Myth 2 – The internet is good enough

Unfortunately, you cannot rely on broadband connections alone for guaranteed performance, or Quality of Service (QoS), as once traffic is placed onto the Internet, it is at the mercy of a ‘best-effort’ connection.

However, SD-WAN orchestrated Internet connections do have their uses. For example, there will be instances, such as supporting lower priority services or providing backup to improve resilience, where they are appropriate to use.

Myth 3 – An SD-WAN can provide Quality of Service

Let’s be clear, QoS is only possible with an end-to-end service, delivered by the provider of the underlying transport network.

It’s true that SD-WAN can measure network performance and make policy-based routing decisions, but it cannot add QoS as an overlay onto a network. For some applications, the Internet may be good enough, but for applications such as voice, where guarantees in stability are required, only an end-to-end service will do.

Myth 4 – SD-WAN makes WAN more complicated

The aim of an SD-WAN is to simplify the architecture and management of a network. Enterprise WANs are already complex so integrating an SD-WAN will require a certain level of expertise during deployment and in-life to manage and support the network infrastructure – especially if you choose to build and manage your own network.

Vodafone’s managed SD-WAN service is designed to make network deployment and management easier, so you can focus on your core business. To help you achieve your strategic networking goals, our solution includes a portal where you can make service changes and view real-time application and network performance analytics, which will help you make faster and better-informed decisions.

Myth 5 – An SD-WAN is the same as WAN optimisation

These are not the same concept. However, SD-WAN and WAN optimisation can actually be viewed as complementary.

WAN optimisation uses techniques, such as compression and data caching, to minimise the bandwidth consumed within a WAN. On the other hand, an SD-WAN, analyses the network performance in real time, including delay, jitter and packet loss, and makes intelligent decisions to find the best available route for traffic at any point in time.

Both SD-WAN and WAN optimisation are a powerful combination of technologies to improve application performance. It is key to find the optimal solutions that will help you better understand your business applications and deliver the required business outcomes.

Myth 6 – Over-The-Top (OTT) providers have the same capabilities as a network operator when deploying an SD-WAN

Although OTT providers or equipment vendors can provide edge devices that make policy-based decisions, they do not provide the essential end-to-end network connectivity. This means you’ll still need to source your connections from one or more network operators, which can lead to added complexity.

When you partner with a single network operator that can provide you with national and international connectivity along with the SD-WAN edge devices, you only have one organisation to deal with that will be accountable for your SD-WAN performance.

Myth 7 – An SD-WAN will reduce overall networking costs

SD-WANs will allow IT managers to get the best out of their network spend. There are no guarantees that overall network costs will reduce because this really depends on the applications that you are using. Rather, the network can be effectively managed to optimise both price and performance.

Also, an SD-WAN allows many networking functions to be virtualised and consumed as a service. Instead of having to purchase, install and maintain multiple appliances for routing, firewall and WAN acceleration, an SD-WAN offers one on-site device that can support multiple virtual network functions, which reduces commercial and operational costs.

Myth 8 – An SD-WAN is easy to install

Remember an SD-WAN is designed to simplify the network while enhancing performance, but when it comes to deployment and ongoing management, you will require a certain degree of knowledge and expertise. Terminology such as ‘Zero-Touch Provisioning’ and ‘Plug-and-Play’ can be misleading in terms of the actual effort and expertise required to deploy an SD-WAN.

This is where a knowledgeable network operator can be invaluable. Vodafone’s managed SD-WAN service can help you get the best out of your network by reducing the burden of implementation and ongoing management.

When looking for an SD-WAN provider, it’s worth noting that many only offer an overlay service to your existing network, creating a virtualised experience, or they offer an SD-WAN with reduced underlay network connectivity. This defeats the object of migrating to an SD-WAN – you should be looking to simplify the management of your network and deliver the performance you need to accelerate innovation and digital transformation.

Want a network that responds to your business needs faster and is ready to take advantage of future technologies?

Speak to one of our experts to find out how your organisation can benefit from Vodafone’s managed SD-WAN service.

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