A hybrid WAN (wide area network) connects geographically dispersed WANs sending traffic over two or more connection types by using dedicated multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits along with carrier Ethernet plus T3 links. As the technology evolves to include traditional lines and public Internet connections, the technology has become more flexible and cost effective to connect multiple points. As reported by Lee Doyle on the German version of Search Networking, the deployment of hybrid WANs can now be simplified using SD-WAN even though they are different technologies.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) uses software-defined networking (SDN) to find the best way to route traffic to remote locations when designing and deploying enterprise WAN. By shifting the traffic monitoring and management from physical devices to the application, SD-WAN is able to leverage the agility and flexibility of SDN's. The technology also allows network administrators to get rid of the manual configurations of traditional routers in branch locations by remotely programming edge appliances through a central controller. This reduces the provisioning times of new deployments so service providers and their customers can start accessing the resources they need much faster than before.
According to Doyle, SD-WAN enables the prioritization of applications and an abstraction of the business guidelines by forming a kind of overlay over the underlying WAN connections. This allows IT personnel to direct individual applications and traffic through specific WAN connections via a central management console. Therefore, organizations can transfer less critical data via the Internet connection and send business critical and security-relevant data via MPLS.
Doyle says, "Businesses should no longer see hybrid WAN and SD-WAN as separate technologies, but as a complement. You can use SD-WAN to make hybrid WAN easier to implement and operate.”
As SD-WAN continues to grow in adoption, Doyle points out it is raising the question of the context of hybrid WAN, and whether the technologies are separated or can they be used together.
There is no question individually both solutions have changed the delivery of data and the efficiency level of network operators and enterprises connecting their WAN.
With real-time solutions, hosted cloud applications and video communications, organizations of all sizes are looking for reliable connections that allows them to receive and deliver these types of services. Doyle points out as technology and function, SD-WAN allows the creation of a hybrid WAN, usually in the form of a mixture of MPLS and classic Internet connections. And many large organizations are no longer separating the two approaches and provide SD-WAN as part of their hybrid WAN options.