What is SD-WAN?

The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) applies SDN principles to WANs. SD-WAN holds the promise of being a more cost-effective and simpler way to connect enterprise branches and corporate data centers, through centralized programmability.

For enterprises, the benefits include lower connectivity costs and operating expenses when compared to traditional MPLS-based WAN or private lines. In addition, SD-WAN should improve a company’s WAN visibility and control. On the other hand, for service providers, the benefits of SD-WAN are unclear.

In fact, SD-WAN might even be a threat to service providers. Why is that? Mainly because SD-WAN is an overlay technology. The virtual connections that enable an SD-WAN to run on the public Internet use low-price broadband access links (DSL, PON, and LTE). The service provider could lose valuable enterprise MPLS or private-line revenue.

There are a number of important challenges for service providers’ SD-WAN service deployments, including:
  • Avoiding the creation of a new operational silo
  • Lock-in to a single SD-WAN vendor or solution
  • Integrating SD-WAN with the existing OSS/BSS for lifecycle management
  • Differentiating a managed WAN service offering

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