How Does SD-WAN Work?
Traditional WANs rely on physical routers to connect remote or branch users to applications hosted on data centers. Each router has a data plane, which holds the information, and a control plane, which tells the data where to go. Where data flows is typically determined by a network engineer or administrator who writes rules and policies, often manually, for each router on the network – a process that can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
SD-WAN separates the control and management processes from the underlying networking hardware, making them available as software that can be easily configured and deployed. A centralized control pane means network administrators can write new rules and policies, and then configure and deploy them across an entire network at once.
SD-WAN makes it easier to manage and direct traffic across a network. With traditional networking approaches like MPLS, traffic created in the branch is returned, or “backhauled,” to a centralized internet security point in a headquarters data center. Backhauling traffic can lower application performance, which leads to reduced productivity and poor user experience. Because MPLS networks are private networks built for one given organization, they are considered reliable and secure, but they are expensive. Moreover, MPLS is not designed to handle the high volumes of WAN traffic that result from software-as-a-service, or SaaS, applications and cloud adoption.
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