SD-WAN: The Full Picture

Software Defined-WAN offers many benefits for organizations. But before deploying any SD-WAN solutions, you should be aware of a few of its challenges.


In this article, we will explore SD-WAN, how it works, the benefits and challenges of implementation, and the industries well-suited for SD-WAN. In addition, you’ll learn more about important considerations when evaluating whether SD-WAN is right for your business, along with a few helpful tips on getting started if you are ready to start your digital transformation.

What is SD-WAN, and how does it work?

SD-WAN is a software-defined networking technology that enables organizations to leverage the power of the internet to connect branch offices and data centers. SD-WAN uses various transport technologies, including MPLS, internet, and Ethernet, to provide a secure, high-performance WAN connection and can be used for any network, including public and private clouds, virtual private networks, and traditional WANs.

SD-WAN routers abstract the underlying transport layer from the applications running on top, making it easier to deploy and manage complex network environments. SD-WAN uses software to create rules regarding application traffic travel between different locations. This routing information is then sent to a central controller, which determines the best path for each type of traffic. The controller then sends this information back to the edge devices, which use it to route the traffic.

Yes, this can sound a bit complicated! However, all you need to know is that the complexity of SD-WAN behind the scenes can make your world more simple and secure by providing a higher level of performance and reliability to your business.

The Benefits of SD-WAN for Your Business Capabilities

SD-WAN is an increasingly popular technology that moves away from an on-premise strategy and relies on cloud-based applications and services. SD-WAN provides several advantages over traditional WAN implementations, including increased bandwidth and network performance, SaaS application performance, simplified network management, enhanced security, and reduced costs. In addition, SD-WAN can be deployed quickly and easily, with minimal disruption to existing network infrastructure. As more and more businesses move to the cloud, SD-WAN is likely to become the preferred solution for WAN optimization. Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific benefits:

Increased Connectivity, Bandwidth, and Network Performance

As businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based applications, they need a network to keep up with the demand. SD-WAN technology can provide the increased bandwidth and network performance that companies need. SD-WAN uses multiple links to connect to the internet, including broadband, 4G LTE, and MPLS. By doing this, businesses guarantee that they are making the most of their internet connection and that traffic is running smoothly. In addition, SD-WAN can provide increased security and redundancy, which is essential for mission-critical applications. By investing in SD-WAN technology, businesses can get the increased bandwidth and network performance they need to stay competitive.

Simplified Network Management

Network management is significantly simplified using SD-WAN. Decoupling the network control plane from the data forwarding plane makes it possible to manage the network centrally without needing on-site IT staff. This centralized orchestration model makes it easy to add, remove or change network devices and configure and optimize networking traffic. In addition, SD-WAN provides a high degree of flexibility and scalability, allowing organizations to quickly adapt their networks to changing needs. As a result, SD-WAN can help to significantly simplify network management while providing a high degree of flexibility and scalability.

Enhanced Security

One of the essential benefits of enhanced network security from SD-WAN technology is that it helps protect against various cyber threats. The ability to quickly identify and isolate suspicious activity helps to ensure that data and systems are not compromised. In addition, enhanced security from SD-WAN technology can help to prevent data loss by enabling rapid recovery in the event of an attack. By providing a secure and efficient way to connect to corporate networks, SD-WAN technology helps to keep your data safe.

Reduced Costs

As businesses increasingly rely on cloud-based applications and services, they find that traditional wide area network (WAN) solutions can no longer keep up. SD-WAN offers a more flexible and cost-effective solution for connecting branch offices and remote sites to cloud resources. By leveraging existing broadband connections, SD-WAN can provide the high bandwidth and low latency needed to support cloud apps. In addition, SD-WAN can be easily configured and managed remotely, eliminating the need for expensive private MPLS circuits and even further reducing costs. As a result, as businesses migrate to the cloud, SD-WAN is quickly becoming the preferred solution for wide-area connectivity.

Challenges of SD-WAN Technology

Any business that wants to remain competitive in today’s marketplace must have a robust and reliable network. However, managing a network can be challenging, especially as companies expand and add new locations. While SD-WAN offers a solution to many networking issues, it is not without its challenges.

Software-Defined WAN Deployment & Configuration

The deployment and configuration of SD-WAN can be challenging for many organizations. The biggest deployment challenge is connecting each location to the network physically. This process can be time-consuming and expensive, mainly if the sites are spread out over a large area. Additionally, configuring an SD-WAN system can be tricky, as it requires a deep understanding of specific networking concepts and settings options that can significantly impact the Quality of Service (QoS) or user experience delivered.

Reliance on Internet Connectivity

SD-WANs allow businesses to connect their networks using various connection types, including broadband, MPLS, and LTE. However, one major limitation is that they are subject to the same reliability issues as any other internet-based service. If the internet connection goes down, so does the SD-WAN. Some SD-WAN providers offer a backup internet connection in case of an outage, ensuring your business stays up and running in an emergency.


SD-WANs are quickly becoming the new norm for networking, but they come with maintenance challenges. For example, SD-WANs are typically implemented as an overlay on top of an existing network, which can add another layer of complexity. In addition, SD-WANs often use multiple technologies, including MPLS, Ethernet, and VPN, making troubleshooting more difficult. And because SD-WANs are designed to be dynamic and adapt to changing conditions, they can be more challenging to manage than traditional fixed-configuration routers. As a result, SD-WAN maintenance requires a different approach than conventional networking.

Legacy Applications

Legacy applications are often a critical part of a company’s operations. Still, they can pose challenges when implementing a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN). Legacy applications may not be compatible with the SD-WAN architecture. Or they may be unable to take advantage of the SD-WAN‘s capabilities. In addition, legacy applications may not be compatible with the new routing protocols used in SD-WAN, which can lead to problems with connectivity. As a result, companies may need to invest in additional hardware or software to ensure that their legacy applications can continue to run on an SD-WAN. In some cases, it may also be necessary to rewrite legacy applications to work with the SD-WAN. While this can be a significant investment, it may be required to ensure that a company’s legacy applications can continue to run smoothly on an SD-WAN.

What To Consider When Deciding if SD-WAN Is Right for Your Business

SD-WAN is a technology that offers many potential benefits for businesses with improved performance, increased flexibility, employee connectivity, hardened security, and reduced long-term costs. However, SD-WAN is not suitable for every business. When deciding whether SD-WAN is right for your business, there are a few key factors to consider.

Financial Investment: Short vs. Long-Term

One thing to remember is that SD-WAN requires a higher initial investment than traditional WANs, along with ongoing maintenance and management. It also may not be compatible with all existing equipment and applications, adding to the overall cost. However, while it may be a bit of a heavy financial lift to get things up and running, SD-WAN can also help reduce costs in the long run with improved performance, increased flexibility, and enhanced connectivity. Therefore, it is crucial to take a deep dive into understanding how your SD-WAN implementation affects your business financially in the short and long term.

Scope & Complexity

Scope and complexity are critical factors to consider when evaluating SD-WAN for your business. SD-WAN scope refers to the number of locations and types of traffic that the SD-WAN solution will support. The scope of an SD-WAN deployment can be limited to a single site or extended to support multiple sites and cloud resources. In addition, SD-WAN solutions are highly adaptable and can grow as your business requirements change and new sites or traffic types emerge.

The number of devices, sites, and cloud resources the solution supports influences the complexity of an SD-WAN deployment. A complex SD-WAN deployment may require multiple devices to be deployed across multiple sites and manage diverse traffic types. In addition, a complex SD-WAN deployment may need to integrate with other network solutions, such as firewalls, load balancers, and VPNs

Team of Experts

Failing to have the right expertise in place can have consequences for any business, but implementing and maintaining an SD-WAN is especially critical. Because an SD-WAN can have such a transformative impact on performance, those charged with its implementation must have the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure a smooth transition. Without this expertise, businesses risk operations disruptions, security breaches, troubleshooting issues,  significant downtime, and substantial incurred costs.

Industries Well-suited for SD-WAN

While SD-WAN provides many benefits to industries that need to transfer large amounts of data between various locations, a few are a natural fit for this type of technology.


Retail businesses often have multiple locations spread out over a wide area. SD-WAN can help retailers connect all their sites quickly and easily without investing in a costly private network, giving retailers the agility they need to respond rapidly to changes in the market.


Manufacturing businesses often have production facilities located in different parts of the country or even the world. SD-WAN can help manufacturers connect their production facilities quickly and easily, allowing them to operate more efficiently. In addition, SD-WAN can help manufacturers improve their customer service by enabling them to connect with customer service representatives at different locations quickly.


Healthcare organizations often have many locations, including hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices. SD-WAN can help healthcare organizations connect all of their sites quickly and easily, allowing them to provide better patient care by giving them access to medical records at different locations. In addition, SD-WAN can help healthcare organizations improve communication between providers at various sites.


SD-WAN can help improve banking operations’ efficiency by providing a more efficient and reliable way to connect branch locations with central data centers. It also delivers better control over network traffic and offers advanced features such as built-in encryption. In addition, SD-WAN provides an opportunity for the banking industry to reduce costs by consolidating multiple network connections into a single, lower-cost WAN connection. As the banking industry evolves, SD-WAN will likely play an increasingly important role in helping banks meet future challenges.

Tips for getting started with SD-WAN

While SD-WAN has many benefits, it can also be complex to implement, so it’s essential to have a clear plan before getting started. Below are some tips for getting started with SD-WAN:

Define Your Goals

What do you hope to achieve by implementing SD-WAN? Improved performance? Increased agility? Reduced costs? Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can develop a plan to help you achieve those goals.

Assess Your Current Network

SD-WAN can be implemented in various ways, so it’s important to understand your current network infrastructure before deciding on a particular real-time solution. For example, what type of WAN connection do you have? How is your network currently configured? Answering these questions will help you determine the best way to implement SD-WAN in your environment.

Choose the Right SD-WAN Solution

Not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal, so choosing one that meets your specific needs is critical. When deciding, consider factors such as ease of use, features, price, and vendor reputation.

Implement SD-WAN Gradually

SD-WAN can be complex, so it’s important to take things slowly at first. Start by deploying SD-WAN in a single location and then gradually expand as you become more comfortable with the technology.

SD-WAN Is Here To Stay

SD-WAN has become increasingly popular as businesses have searched for ways to manage their networking resources more effectively. In addition, companies continue to invest in evolving digital strategies, and many are turning to SD-WAN to ensure that their network connections can keep pace with the changing business environment and the demands of the digital age.  If you want any information on how Meriplex can help manage your SD-WAN solution, contact us today