Legacy WAN or SD-WAN – Which One is Better for Your Network Architecture and Why?


As the name suggests, a legacy WAN is what we’ve been using for years and still do – a combination of MPLS and Internet connections. On the other hand, SD-WAN is a modern network architecture design developed to optimize and streamline traffic flow. It uses networking intelligence and loads balancing features to increase efficiency and reliability.

Whether you’re a small, medium, or large business looking to go through a network change, whether it’s an upgrade or update, you want to know which one of these two options is right for your network architecture. This article explores both legacy and SD-WAN and helps you identify where you would use one over the other. 

But first, let’s put some light on the features and functionality of SD-WAN architecture.

SD-WAN – Is it worth the hype?

SD-WAN is a software-based wide network solution that can be managed centrally and is deployed as an overlay technology to an existing topology. This eases the integration and SD-WAN adoption over time. In this network architecture system, a centralized controller acts as a single dashboard that can manage the entire SD-WAN solution. 

Traditional WAN and SD-WAN – A Comparative Analysis

Reliability and Prioritization

MPLS requires dedicated or carrier-grade circuits, which offer a far better QoS (Quality of Service) by virtually isolating packets over one connection. MPLS bandwidth is usually run over one carrier-grade circuit connection and is higher priced due to this reason. 

While traditional WAN can give you predictable traffic by sending data sets over a priority link, SD-WAN allows you to improve application and network performance with advanced application optimization solutions. This includes dozens of optimization capabilities that alleviate latency and packet loss problems and switching over active links in the event of a service outage.

SD-WANs can run on 4G-LTE and internet broadband, making it cheaper than MPLS network service delivery. SD-WAN solutions are cost-effective for businesses to stretch their networks without expensive bandwidth upgrades. Businesses can instead purchase bandwidth based on priority. This helps them mix and match network links according to the content or data type cost-effectively.

Control and Scalability

Making changes to a traditional WAN means manual work, which takes longer and decreases efficiency. If you are a growing business, it can mean hindered growth. It is easier to scale with a software-based wide network solution, and more so if you partner with a managed SD-WAN services provider

SD-WAN solutions move us in the right direction when we talk about scalability. We get user traffic closer to cloud services by enabling local internet offloading. A traditional WAN architecture will route back to the data centers with a need to filter constantly. This ultimately results in sub-optimal routing and latency for cloud hosting providers like Office 365.

In addition to the above, an SD-WAN also enables businesses to focus on deploying applications like IoT, VoIP, unified communications, and edge computing services. This saves the enterprises time and resources on configuring and managing networks.

Furthermore, a secure SD-WAN provides IT with an automated, policy-driven, virtual WAN infrastructure that transforms the network from a bottle-neck deterrent to a business service implementation engine. 

Lastly, SD-WAN is delivered via the cloud and thus, saves a lot on capital expenditures and gives you simplified network management. 

If you haven’t considered it already, now is the time to consider the business benefits of SD-WAN and leverage the many advantages it has to offer. 

Ending Note

As new technologies emerge, what you can do with SD-WAN will change over time — and the potential business benefits will too. Please pay attention to emerging trends (like software-defined WAN) that may affect your organization’s bottom line and top priorities. To explore these types of technology investments now and in the future, consider starting with a proof-of-concept to evaluate the technology’s value from an organizational perspective.

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