Across the IT ecosystem, many organisations and enterprises are rapidly shifting towards Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD–WAN) architecture, because of its provision of efficient, agile, and integrated application connections. Such technology offers a faster, frictionless network – a significant priority for IT specialists and network managers across the globe. This is why we have seen such a rapid increase in adoption rate of SD-WAN. According to Gartner’s projections, sale growth of SD–WAN is expected to reach $35 Billion by the year 2022.
According to 2016’s State of the WAN report, traditional WAN exhibits performance limitations such as latency issues and packet loss at a higher level. In this report, two of the factors among the top five were related to network performance, which is of crucial importance. This is the major reason behind fundamental shift from WAN to SD–WAN. As we move toward SD-WAN solutions, it is necessary to understand how various aspects of SD-WAN can provide discrete solutions to improve performance of the network.
Here are some of the most pressing issues facing traditional WANs:
- Due to inconsistent bandwidth, network congestion and packet loss occurs. In case of bandwidth mismatch between destination and sending network, a poor experience is faced in the form of high latency. A queue of packets is formed in cases of data transfer from higher bandwidth to lower speed networks. Data packets remain in a queue, waiting to be received. If data packets pile up, leading to network congestion, the router will start discarding data packets randomly and data loss will occur due to inconsistent bandwidth.
- Traditional WANs may also lead to poor experiences for hosted applications, due to overstressed server and overloaded communication devices. Application crashes occur frequently and specific tasks within hosted applications are delayed due to slow load and poor application performance. This costs businesses heavily. According to ITIC’s survey, a single hour of downtime can cost up to $100,000 to big enterprises. Even, for small businesses, slow network performance is highly damaging for customer satisfaction and overall productivity.
- Poor bandwidth can also cause a lack of offsite backups. It can further lead to a system crash, as running backups during regular business hours can exhaust the already stressed network. This congestion can affect download speeds due to the upload bottleneck. We cannot bypass these offsite backups as they offer critical protection against cyber threats and physical damage. But these important offsite backups can put halt to our network application performance. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure required bandwidth for offsite backups supported by our network.
How does SD-WAN improve our network application performance and resolve the problems of traditional WANs?
- SD-WAN provides increased visibility to lag sensitive and bandwidth intensive applications like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Unified Communications. These types of applications are running over WAN-supported technologies which are not sophisticated enough to support them. SD–WAN prioritises voice packets. Flexibility of hybrid deployment of SD–WAN with MPLS makes it possible to rapidly traverse traffic between public internet connections and MPLS. In this way, SD-WAN provides a seamless experience to network users.
- When different types of applications require different service levels, it becomes necessary to effectively balance the load. Some applications are latency sensitive, and some might work well without network straining. SD-WAN provides a flexible solution in such cases by enabling different pathways for different applications depending upon their individual requirement. This ensures reliable transfer of data through prevention of congestion.
- SD-WAN also provides affordable flexibility that has not been offered by traditional WAN carriers and MPLS. These traditional solutions also do not have ability to expand and are reluctant to adapt to sophisticated IT ecosystems. But SD-WAN enables businesses to get connected to any type of available connection and allows sites to get up and running as quickly as possible. It rapidly deploys hardware profile and network characteristics through an automated configuration process. New sites can remotely be added to WAN through online data entry, and network performance may be accelerated with a few button clicks.
- Through SD-WAN’s Forward Error Correction (FEC) of packet levels, the negative impact of packet loss can be resolved. In such a solution, extra parity packets are transmitted along with data packets. At the receiving end, these parity packets are reconstituted to recover any lost data packets and hence eliminate the negative impact of throughput-limiting. Even where data packets are not loss, but received out of order at the receiving end, throughput also gets reduced due to retransmission of out of order packets from the transmitting device. An SD-WAN solution can also address this problem through its dynamic Packet Order Correction (POC), resulting in the maintenance of throughput and overall network performance.
- Due to cost and complexity, many organisations utilise a single transport channel for WAN communications. But SD-WAN offers secondary transport through significantly simpler channels such as broadband or LTE. Adding secondary transport enhances the ability of businesses to double their transport and hence bandwidth, thereby improving performance.
- In a previous post, we have already explained how the use of multi-path dynamic optimisation can lead SD-WAN to provide highly reliable and efficient performance for applications like VoIP, UCaaS, VDI and SaaS. High-quality performance and reliable connectivity are assured through multi-path optimisation and prioritisation of applications based on their demand. For latency-sensitive voice and video applications, such remedies have proven to be very effective. According to AT&T Business statistics, on a single link connection, Voice Quality Performance of SD-WAN devices are computed to be 35% better than those of non-SD-WAN configurations. Performance statistics for video quality are even more satisfying than that of audio quality. SD-WAN configured video quality is computed to be 531% better than those of non-configured SD-WAN setup.
SD-WAN video quality is computed to be 531% better than those of non-configured SD- WAN setup.
The rise of SD-WAN has accelerated network application performance. SD-WAN compares favourably to other contemporary competitive technologies, and offers enhanced network performance at lower costs. This is why businesses are increasingly shifting from traditional WAN to SD-WAN solutions.