Comparing SD-WAN and SDN for Business


Comparing SD-WAN and SDN for Business

Jun 19, 2017

Software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) are two approaches that are often mistakenly interchanged. Its certainly true that SD-WAN was born from SDN, and its also equally true that SD-WAN is becoming increasingly more popular SDN. But how do the two differ in the context of your business network? The key differences lie within their capabilities and uses.

Before you go any further, you might want to take a look at our whitepaper on SD-WAN. This brief will help you understand what SD-WAN is, so you can better understand how it differs from SDN. But if you know your stuff already, lets get right to it.


What are the similarities?

SD-WAN and SDN both come from the same background. Theyre both software-defined, and theyre both designed to separate the control and data planes of network traffic. This means they are equally capable of managing directions separately where network traffic should be sent (in the control plane) and how traffic is actually forwarded there (in the data plane).

Both SD-WAN and SDN architectures take an entire network and turn it into a single manageable entity. The objective of both designs is to create a fully dynamic and scalable connection that allows for the rapid adoption of various commands. In practice, this allows network engineers to fully manage all network policies, decisions and changes while having them propagate to all network-linked devices within fractions of a second.


How do they differ?

If you look at both SDN and SD-WAN, it wont take long to realize why SD-WAN is gaining in popularity.

SDN focuses on the internal local area networks (LAN). This means that its focused on more of the internal processes within the core of a network. By operating in the LAN, SDN limits itself greatly to a relatively small physically-interconnected location, such as an office space or a single building.

SD-WAN bases itself upon the existing architecture of SDN. But, as the name implies, SD-WAN improves on the execution by focusing on application routing to a wide area network (WAN). This means that it can connect and unify networks that span over vast geographical areas. In practice, SD-WAN can easily interconnect the network of an organizations headquarters in Japan with the network of a branch office in California. Simply put, SD-WAN gives you a greater flexibility to handle a wider, interconnected network.

To top things off, SD-WAN is programmed and handled by the vendor. This results in an added benefit for clients by removing the stress and confusion of system management that comes with SDN.


Which should I use?

Software defined wide area networking is a total improvement over software defined networks for almost any type of business operation. It can perform the same functions over a global networkbut with improved performance overall. The concept of SD-WAN is simple. The implementation process, however, is not. Thats why its critical for you to have a professional with experience curate your SD-WAN transition and architecture.

QOS Networks has decades of combined experience transitioning companies to SD-WAN. We help these businesses improve network agility, lower costs, and increase daily efficiency. If youre ready to work with SD-WAN, lets have a conversation.

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