Goodbye MPLS: Why SD-WAN is Inevitable

Being responsible for network and data centers leaves senior infrastructure executives overwhelmed with unsolvable challenges, such as effectively and efficiently scaling wide area networks (WAN). The challenges increase at the enterprise level comprised of a large number of locations geographically dispersed.

Current solutions provided by the industry only solve parts of the problem. When deployed jointly, the solutions essentially cancel out any possible benefits they may have provided on their own.

At the enterprise level, motivated by the need for a global presence, the demand for WANs has grown exponentially. The challenges of meeting increasing network costs, more uptime, more bandwidth and more speed have rendered WANs practically useless — they simply can’t keep up with the demand.

Enter SD-WAN

Telco companies have come to realize that SD-WAN is the solution customers need to meet this demand. The burgeoning adoption of working in the cloud and the growing number of remote and mobile users has created a dramatic trend to shift network usage to a better platform. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solves performance problems and extends the limitations of traditional WAN architectures. These technologies address the challenges customers face, as well as provide lucrative opportunities for MSPs, channel partners and VARs to beef up their portfolios and enhance their product lines.

Software-Defined Networking

SDN is a huge trend in telecom that expands on the progress that Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) has made. In NFV, virtualization is leveraged to improve cost, performance and reliability. It is a product that an enterprise can build themselves or buy from a network operator. With SD-WAN, a layer of abstraction is provided that allows an enterprise to build a reliable virtual network.

Benefits of SD-WAN include:

  • Up to 80 percent in cost reductions
  • Zero touch provisioning
  • Simplified network availability
  • Agility
  • WAN optimization
  • Lower risk

Since SD-WAN is an overlay network, an IP-MPLS VPN is the most commonly used underlay network. However, it is important to note that the overlay network must be compatible with the underlay network. This is especially important in the event of recovery, restoration or failure.

There are currently no set standards and therefore no interoperability of most available vendor equipment or software, a trend set to change very soon. Right now, each SD-WAN offered by network providers is unique. To keep up with the increasing demand and to stay ahead of competitors, vendors will have to develop equipment and software more compatible with others.

Chris Cavigioli of Intel suggested that Open Networking User Group (ONUG) could be a driving force behind specifying SD-WAN interoperability. However, experts believe ONUG is not a qualified standards-defining body.

Therefore, the common trend seems to point to SD-WANs being deployed as parts of the carrier’s enterprise WAN network. This raises some serious concerns. Without any global standards or any kind of interoperability of any sort, a service provider could possibly cause a heap of trouble for their clients if the provider they were using for a certain platform suddenly went out of business or if the SD-WAN solution did not perform quite as robustly as advertised.

What the Future Holds

For an organization to have multiple remote locations is no longer the exception — it is the norm. SD-WAN makes it possible to add a new storefront or branch without the need of expensive engineers. Once deployed, everything can be managed simply and easily with a few commands from a centralized dashboard.

Things are going to change. Unsolvable problems of the past will soon be solvable and will open up a whole new world of opportunities. All tasks will be completed efficiently, effectively and with complete scalability.


By Omar Rezec

Vice President, Spearhead


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