Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

What is SD-WAN and why should you care?

October 30, 2018

Before you attend Future WAN to ask our industries gurus your questions about SD-WAN, here is an over view of what is SD-WAN and why you should care.

Traditional WAN technology has been designed to connect physical locations: branches, data centres and the head office. Unfortunately, this technology has not been able to fully adapt with the changes of the modern network.

What are the challenges with the traditional WAN technologies?

  • Data passing back and forth through the Data Centre means traffic flow is slow, resulting in a slow user experience.
  • Increased demand on bandwidth, meaning high cost for WAN links with Service Provider.
  • Dependence on Service Provider technology reduced how dynamic the WAN could be.
  • Increased number of end users at branch sites increases complexity and size of network.
  • Digitalisation brings in struggles with new services either on premise or cloud hosted.
  • Users’ needs are changing for example; requesting more video streaming bandwidth and technologies, and guest WiFi access.

The traditional WAN technologies are unable today to address these dynamic environments and new traffic patterns. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the user’s expectations with regards to connectivity, application performance and connection security.

Companies are increasingly searching for ways to implement a more dynamic WAN structure that:

  • Provides visibility into application performance
  • Brings more flexibility into WAN end-point management
  • Allows Internet access directly from remote sites without going through the data centre

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN architecture allows the company to add a WAN Internet connection in addition to the existing connections and then optimise its usage through intelligent routing. Not only does SD-WAN perform the typical network connectivity functions but it also transports applications in the most efficient manner to guarantee their performance and security. It acts as a virtual ‘overlay’ that allows you to define and automate routing patterns from a single dashboard.

 How can this help you?

SD-WAN gives more flexibility to the client. You will now be able to optimize your routing paths depending on your business priorities and bandwidth needs, as well as business critical applications. SD-WAN brings back the control to the client making WAN simpler to manage.

Adopting SD-WAN does not mean migrating from MPLS or 4G/LTE. You can maintain the classical WAN structure and route business critical applications through MPLS-VPN and then redirect the rest of the traffic through Internet to reduce costs.

Top 5 reasons why SD-WAN is great:

  1. On-premise or cloud managed-A single WAN fabric (control plane) with operational simplicity that can scale across thousands of remote sites.
  2. Transport independence-Global support for any type of connectivity including MPLS, Internet, and 4G LTE.
  3. End-point flexibility-Physical or virtual network devices that can be deployed in the branch, cloud, co-location facility, or the data center.
  4. Rich network services- Deploy in minutes network services like SD-WAN, unified communications, firewall and more, including 3rd parties.
  5. Analytics and assurance- Real-time application optimization for all applications using visibility for forecasting and planning with actionable insights for faster troubleshooting.

Is your branch prepared with the right infrastructure?

When deciding to adopt SD-WAN, many companies are hesitant to add another “box”, the SD-WAN physical appliance, to their branch office as it increases maintenance costs, complexity and security risks.

In order to simplify branch management, companies can install servers or routers with virtualisation capacities, for example the Cisco ASR and ISR routers, that dramatically decrease deployment and maintenance time at branches. This dynamic structure helps reduce WAN costs making it a lot more adaptable to sudden peaks in bandwidth needs.

Would you like to find out more about SD-WAN and specific routing solutions for branch virtualisation?

Sign up to FutureWAN’18 on the 7th and 8th of November to learn how to save time deploying new branches, deliver exceptional application experiences, and simplify managing and operating your WAN thanks to SD-WAN from industry gurus.


Every attendee will receive an exclusive “You’re the WAN that I want” t-shirts.

(Terms and conditions apply, while stock lasts).


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