What is SD-WAN and how has it impacted modern network infrastructure?


When SD-WAN made its debut, it was like a superhero in the networking world. But what is SD-WAN and how has it impacted modern network infrastructure?

In its early days, people loved it for its simplified network management and the way it allowed you to manage traffic to improve availability and performance. 

But in this fast-paced world of modern network infrastructure, where new technologies like SASE are stepping onto the scene, you might wonder if SD-WAN is still the champion it once was or if it's slowly fading into the background like its predecessor MPLS.

In this blog, we explore the evolution of modern network infrastructure and where SD-WAN now stands, answering questions such as:

  • What is SD-WAN, and why did it become the go-to solution that left MPLS by the wayside?

  • How has SD-WAN influenced new solutions in network infrastructure technology?

  • And finally, does SD-WAN still have a place in today's network landscape or will it soon be replaced and just become a feature in the history of digital technology?


From MPLS to SD-WAN solutions


Back in the late 1990s, everyone was talking about MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) – the network solution that promised faster and more reliable network performance through labelled traffic routing. But, as the digital world kept evolving and businesses started moving more of their stuff to the cloud, cracks in the capabilities of MPLS began to appear. 

Firstly, it struggled with latency issues, as all the traffic had to go through a central hub before reaching its destination - not exactly the most efficient way to do things! But that's not all. 

MPLS also heavily relied on specific Internet Service Providers, imposing geographical limitations. For big, spread-out companies that wanted to share data between different locations, MPLS struggled to fulfil their needs.

It was time for a fresh, flexible solution that could handle the complexity of cloud traffic, keep the performance top-notch, and be super agile for multi-site organisations. And it was the next-gen wonder, SD-WAN technology, that stepped up to tackle these challenges.


What is SD-WAN, and what benefits does it offer over MPLS?


So, let's break down what SD-WAN is all about and why it's got some serious perks compared to MPLS!

SD-WAN stands for Software-Defined Wide Area Network. It may not be the catchiest of terms, but the benefits it offers certainly caught everyone’s attention. SD-WAN is a technology that simplifies traffic management over a wide area network (WAN). How does it do that? 

Well, it uses intelligent software-based controls to optimise routing across all sorts of connection types. SD-WAN is also totally independent of any telecommunication provider's infrastructure. 

So, what does this mean in terms of benefits? With SD-WAN, you get improved visibility through a single point of management, meaning no more worries about network complexity! You can prioritise the most important activity and allocate bandwidth where it's needed the most, which means better availability, reliability and performance compared to MPLS. 

And there's more! Deployment and configuration of SD-WAN are a breeze compared to other options. Plus, its ability to work with multiple connectivity types makes it hugely helpful for today's dynamic and distributed enterprises. Flexibility and scalability are no longer an issue! 

So, whether you're a large company with sites all over the place or a growing business with big dreams, SD-WAN is ready to support your network needs.


How did SD-WAN lead to new, exciting developments in network infrastructure?


We all know that our digital world moves at lightning speed, so, unsurprisingly, it didn't take long for our demands to change. We needed an inventive network solution to keep up with our fast-paced tech world and (a bit later) our new, flexible ways of working. And in 2019, it arrived in the form of SASE (Secure Access Service Edge). Even industry leader Gartner described it as the new “thing” after SD-WAN in their 2019 report. 

So, what's so special about SASE? Well, it's an exciting evolution of SD-WAN that builds on its core magic to give us optimised performance right at the network edge. 

But perhaps even more crucially for today’s world of networks, SASE takes security seriously! It's got integrated enhanced security tools designed to tackle our current and future cybersecurity concerns. 

SASE does all this via the cloud, delivered right at the network edge. So, no matter where you are - whether you're out on-site or in a coffee shop down the block - you get the same top-notch performance and security as if you were sitting in your company's central location.


What is SD-WAN’s role in today’s network landscape?


With all the fantastic innovations of SASE, you might be wondering where this leaves SD-WAN solutions? Well, despite some pandemic-related delays and the rise of SASE, the SD-WAN market has held strong. In fact, it's been steadily growing, thanks to the sky-high demand for cloud solutions and SD-WAN as a service. Reports predict an increase of USD 11,208.29 million between 2022 and 2027, with a CAGR of 29.7% during that time. 

We are also likely to see SD-WAN offering a helping hand in the widespread adoption of wireless WAN, extending its performance and availability benefits to enhance cellular and satellite connections.

However, SD-WAN alone still leaves the security issue unaddressed. But there is a way around this challenge. Choose Managed SD-WAN, and security can be built into your solution. 

For example, at Hughes Europe, we’ll tailor your SD-WAN solution to meet your unique needs. Size, locations and network and security requirements - we take it all into account, whether it's edge or cloud-based. 

We've extensive experience in supporting distributed enterprises and know how to deliver a solution for you that has the right balance between high-quality network service and the optimum levels of security.

So, whether Managed SASE or Managed SD-WAN is right for you, Hughes Europe can ensure your network is optimised to deal with today’s challenges and flexible to evolve as the digital landscape continues to change.

To learn more about our Managed Network Solutions, please visit our webpage.