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SD-WAN Explained: An SD-WAN Technology Overview

This article was updated on July 13, 2021

If you're looking for a technology overview of SD-WAN services, look no further. Learning how SD-WAN helps organizations glean better quality of service (QoS) and experience (QoE) from the cloud solutions they depend on is the first step to understanding the technology. By sorting and shaping the traffic that comes over a company's network, SD-WAN technology can significantly optimize the bandwidth its critical solutions use.

Here's SD-WAN explained: a brief primer on what SD-WAN is, how it works, and how it can make your business communications more efficient and resolve network performance issues in the era of cloud platforms. As we'll show you, Vonage offers its own take on SD-WAN for UCaaS — and it's a recognized leader in this area of communications technology.

Balancing Bandwidth Needs

Companies are seeing the benefits of cloud-based business solutions, and they're moving more and more services to the cloud. This increased traffic can certainly affect QoS. Digging deeper, this issue is further compounded by the fact that most business networks don't have the means to recognize, let alone prioritize, the many types of traffic they carry. In other words, there's a difference between videoconference traffic and Netflix traffic, but your network reacts to them the same way.

Two-way traffic — traffic from solutions that must continually upload and download in real time to provide their communications services — is another concern. Though VoIP and videoconference communications tools are surprisingly efficient, they still benefit from preferential treatment. Additionally, putting them on a network that's already taxed by other cloud services can sometimes lead to congestion and brownouts, impacting the clarity of communications when your employees call colleagues and customers.

SD-WAN Explained: A Brief SD-WAN Technology Overview

So what is SD-WAN, what is SmartWAN, and how do these tools help businesses address all the challenges of cloud adoption? This time, the elevator pitch comes down to a single word: prioritization. By continually reanalyzing and reallocating prioritization, SmartWAN constantly puts your communications traffic in proper order, ensuring real-time, two-way traffic and other high-priority data gets treatment reflective of its importance.

That said, the technology can do more than hold the velvet rope for your traffic. It can also create a flexible and affordable hybrid network, securely routing data through multiple modes of connectivity — a combination of private circuits and public broadband or even LTE/4G/5G links, for instance. This gives companies with more than one data connection even more inroads to quality communication. If a considerable traffic spike or even an outage takes one option down, SD-WAN simply moves communications traffic over to the next-best option.

Given SD-WAN's powerful advantages for businesses that are increasingly adopting cloud services and using their network connections for more mission-critical business operations, it's no surprise that the market for SD-WAN is booming. According to IDC, spending on SD-WAN technology is expected to reach $5.25 billion by 2023.

Optimizing Performance With SD-WAN Technology

A company doesn't need multiple connections or a complex network environment to enjoy the benefits of SmartWAN. For some companies, quite the opposite is true: Its ability to optimize and route traffic can allow organizations to move to smaller, less expensive broadband packages, realizing increased cost savings with every branch or satellite they deploy SD-WAN to.

Then there's the idea of administrative simplicity. For companies using an existing suite of one vendor's products (or those interested in switching), choosing a provider that offers an SD-WAN product such as SmartWAN helps you check yet another business need off the list, all with the assistance of a single provider. Considering many cloud-based communications tools can be deployed anywhere high-speed internet is available, this single-vendor approach to communications can be far preferable to dealing with a tangled weave of regional telecommunications providers.

Throw in the simplicity of dealing with a single provider for a number of your most important services, and it's easy to see why SmartWAN is an increasing presence in businesses nationwide.

SD-WAN's Benefits for Branch Offices

Companies that have branch offices will definitely want to take a look at SD-WAN technologies like SmartWAN. The technology's ability to bundle internet connections is useful for managing communications for multiple offices.

Companies that have small regional offices often outfit them with low-cost broadband connections, typically upgrading them later on when needed. It can be tricky for the main office to manage all of these wide area network (WAN) connections from afar, which is why SD-WAN can be vital in these kinds of situations. Businesses can manage all of their WAN connections for all of their offices using SD-WAN, remotely changing configurations on demand without having to hire and schedule an on-site technician to manually do the work.

So if a business decides to set up videoconferencing at all of its branch offices, for example, it will need to configure QoS at each of those locations to make sure video traffic gets the velvet rope treatment required for high-quality performance. Depending on the situation, the company might need to bring in more bandwidth to get the job done. SD-WAN makes it possible to set everything up remotely using cost-effective bandwidth, streamlining administration while guaranteeing better service.

Your Ticket to Better Cloud Communications

As more and more processes move to the cloud, a tool that optimizes bandwidth — despite the business's increasing reliance on traffic-generating solutions — has tremendous value. Throw in the simplicity of dealing with a single provider for a number of your most important services, and it's easy to see why SmartWAN is an increasing presence in businesses nationwide. If bandwidth is an issue at your office or soon will be, give it a look and see what it can do for you.

Vonage Staff

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