Published on:

29 April 2021


Rachael Adams

What Is SD-WAN and Why Should It Be On Your Radar?

One of the hottest topics with customers at the moment is SD-WAN technology, and not without good reason. Five or ten years ago, this development was for big businesses with big budgets, but, like many technologies, it has gradually moved into the more affordable territory occupied by small and mid-sized organisations. So, what is SD-WAN, and why should it matter?

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN stands for software defined WAN, a term that describes a network that is effectively abstracted from its hardware, creating a virtualised network overlay. This means you don’t need sophisticated network designs, because the solution lives in a software layer on top of the network, meaning you can control connectivity, management and services between remote branches and data centres far more simply.

What is the Purpose of SD-WAN?

The primary purposes of SD-WAN technology is to connect multiple branches of a business, or to provide resilience in the event of a connectivity failure.  When one internet connection goes down, instead of experiencing the stress of downtime, and the battle to get service restored, you can simply swap between your chosen providers.

In a typical organisation, little functions smoothly without internet connectivity. Now that almost every business is using cloud applications and services, downtime can be especially costly. When you don’t have internet, you may not have phones, productivity apps, or invoicing capability. Without these essential business tools, how can you work?  

It is important to be aware that not all SD-WAN solutions serve the same purpose. Because it has become something of a buzzword, many manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, and added some limited SD-WAN capability into their routers. While they may proclaim that their solution is SD-WAN capable if it can do one of the relevant functions, like creating a secure private network or providing failover, it may not be the full package. This muddying of the waters can make it overwhelming to choose the right option.

The Four Reasons SD-WAN Should Be on Your Radar

  1. Failover. SD-WAN reduces downtime for your organisation when your primary internet fails. It notices the internet connection is down, and changes traffic to your secondary internet path.
  2. Bonding. A fully functional SD-WAN can combine two or more internet connections to achieve maximum speed – for example, you could have two NBN connections and get an aggregate of both speeds. If higher speed internet is unavailable, or too costly, this feature can be especially valuable.
  3. Creating a private secure network. An SD-WAN joins your business branches together, replacing the need for a traditional MPLS network, so that you escape the typically expensive locked in contracts associated with a single vendor and carrier.
  4. WAN compression. The SD-WAN makes it possible to improve the speed of any internet connection using WAN acceleration of up to 4x the speed you are used to. Where normally, packets over the internet are not compressed, SD-WAN does the work for you. Smaller packets mean faster transmission speeds.

Why TechPath SD-WAN is Different

We have sourced an excellent SD-WAN solution that we host and manage ourselves, right here in Brisbane, with a presence in Perth to make sure your WA branch offices will not experience frustrating latency problems. It effortlessly covers all four of the key SD-WAN capabilities mentioned above, unlike some of the more limited options on the market.

We built zero downtime during failover into the equation. While with most products, users will experience a minute or two of downtime in the event of failover, ours makes the transition without anyone noticing. Even your VoIP calls won’t drop out. We also include static IP addresses for every location where our SD-WAN solution is deployed.

We don’t work with lock-in contracts: our philosophy is that if we create the best service, our customers will stay by choice. It helps that it is priced very reasonably, with hardware from $599, and ongoing service from as little as $89 per month.

Use Cases of SD-WAN

One of our customers was working across six mainly rural locations. Like any business, they were reliant on connectivity, but their internet was unreliable. Since the NBN rollout in their area, they were forced to adopt a VoIP solution, and all their IT was cloud-based. They were experiencing internet outages just about every week, usually for a couple of days, and they would lose all their phone systems, and access to their essential applications.  Now, they have implemented SD-WAN with 4G failover, and have perfect uptime. In only a few months, they have saved over 200 hrs of outages. Their alternative would have been to implement fibre which is not cheap in some rural areas. Read the case study here.

Another customer was moving office location, but the carrier had not delivered their fibre solution in time for their move. There was no option for delay, so they implemented SD-WAN for the short term, to get them through those early weeks. We provided a dual bonded 4G service using two carriers, creating a resilient, high-speed temporary solution, with static IP address and carrier diversity. When their fibre was finally connected, they were able to plug it straight into the SD-WAN appliance, keeping their static IP address so they did not have to reconfigure their IT. The solution had been such a success that they opted to maintain it, changing from a bonded to a failover connection… and all reconfiguration happened during business hours with no outages. The IT team were the heroes, saving the business from a moving day disaster.

Time to get the advantages of SD-WAN, or want to learn more? Contact our friendly TechPath experts today.