Cost Savings and Performance Gains with SD-WAN

Businesses today rely heavily on cloud applications, VoIP, video conferencing and other bandwidth-hungry tools to power their operations. But running these critical services over traditional wide area networks (WANs) can be incredibly expensive, complex, and sluggish. According to the good folk over at Hillstone Networks, this is where SD-WAN comes in, providing a modern alternative that optimizes performance while drastically reducing networking costs.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide area network. It is a transformative approach to enterprise networking that virtualizes WAN connectivity and management. Instead of being tied to inflexible, expensive private circuits like MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) links, SD-WAN uses smart software controls and commodity internet connections to create a virtualized WAN overlay.

So what does that mean in plain English? SD-WAN decouples network control from the underlying physical transport services. It allows businesses to utilize any mixture of affordable public broadband connections, like cable, DSL, 4G/5G and standard internet pipes, while still delivering enterprise-grade performance, reliability, and security.

Reducing Connectivity Costs

One of the primary drivers for SD-WAN adoption is the significant cost savings it enables compared to traditional carrier-based WANs. Private MPLS links are notoriously overpriced, with enterprises often overpaying by hundreds of percent for basic point-to-point connectivity.

By contrast, SD-WAN allows cheap, ubiquitous broadband internet to carry the bulk of traffic between sites and to cloud resources. This bandwidth sourcing flexibility lets companies fully leverage widely available, low-cost public internet services rather than being nickel-and-dimed by telecom monopolies.

Optimizing Cloud Connectivity

Sending remote traffic through a traditional WAN to corporate datacenters in the cloud computing era leads to poor performance and unnecessary latency. SD-WAN solves this fundamental issue with its ability to intelligently route data directly via the optimal cloud on-ramp.

Advanced SD-WAN solutions continuously monitor the real-time characteristics of all available WAN paths and underlay services. Application traffic is then dynamically steered across the best possible connection and links based on centralized policies, minimizing latency, jitter, and packet loss.

Simplified Operations and Agility

Traditional router-based WANs are extremely rigid, complex, and fragile. Adding a new branch typically requires an arduous truck roll to configure specialized WAN hardware and deploy private circuits; a process that often takes months.

In stark contrast, SD-WAN provides a thin software overlay that removes the underlying physical connections. Manual CLI configurations are replaced by policy-based orchestration, making operations much simpler. New sites can be deployed in a matter of days, thanks to zero-touch provisioning automations.

With centralized cloud controllers, IT can easily monitor and manage the entire distributed SD-WAN fabric from one interface. Policies for security, QoS, and traffic steering can be defined once and enforced automatically across all locations.

Furthermore, SD-WAN architectures enable fast, flexible bandwidth augmentation and traffic fail-over capabilities to ensure always-on connectivity and optimal performance. Additional links of any type can be quickly added as needs change.

Advanced Security Capabilities

While internet connectivity inherits public network risks, leading SD-WAN solutions incorporate robust security capabilities to protect distributed traffic flows.

For example, highly secure SD-WAN gateways automatically establish encrypted tunnels across all WAN links to prevent unauthorized access or eavesdropping. Next-gen firewalls and intrusion prevention safeguard branch edges with deep packet inspection. And cloud-based secure web gateways filter web traffic and malware.

Built-in SD-WAN security engines like these eliminate the need for multiple physical appliances at each location. Along with micro-segmentation and granular access controls, SD-WAN provides an integrated, end-to-end security framework appropriate for modern cloud-centric networks.


As organizations increasingly embrace digital transformation, their legacy WANs struggle to keep pace with evolving needs for cost efficiency, cloud performance, automation, and security. For enterprises seeking maximum agility and ROI, making the shift to a software-defined approach with SD-WAN provides compelling advantages.

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