For detailed SD-WAN Vendor and Open Source comparisons, checkout the Virtual Edge Expanding: The 2016 SD-WAN and vCPE Report also available as PDF Download
What is Hybrid WAN and Why Does it Matter?
Hybrid WAN is a way of connecting two geographically separated WANs to a branch office with the traffic being sent over two different types of connections. One connection is the traditional MPLS that connects to the data center. The other connection is made through a broadband connection to the Internet or as a VPN connection to the data center. All the normal business traffic that is intended to go to the data center takes the MPLS route.
The hybrid WAN matters because it solves problems that occur with older WAN architecture. By funneling traffic directly to the Internet, it eliminates extra hops and latency that can sometimes occur when traffic goes through a data center. It also is more cost efficient because directing traffic over the Internet is less costly than using an MPLS link.
Another benefit of a hybrid WAN is that it lets users decide which link is the best path back to the data center by using real-time monitoring.
Hybrid vs Traditional WAN
A hybrid WAN is considered a better option than traditional WAN architecture because traditional WAN optimization techniques are symmetrical. But with the hybrid WAN you can use asymmetrical optimization techniques that employ both the MPLS link and the Internet connection.
Plus, a hybrid WAN offers path selection, which means it can decide which link is the best path for traffic based on real-time monitoring of latency or the number of errors that are occurring over the link.
Hybrid WAN vs Hybrid SD-WAN
According to Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner, the hybrid WAN offers a number of benefits including reduced WAN costs; simplified and improved management orchestration of WAN traffic and devices; improved and unified visibility and monitoring traffic; and better security.
A hybrid WAN often works in conjunction with the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) and relies on the SD-WAN’s intelligence to distribute the traffic.
A hybrid WAN can also be turned into a SD-WAN by adding SD-WAN technology. A hybrid SD-WAN is considered an improvement because it allows a user to use policies to control path selection and configuration. It also means that the branch office can be reconfigured more easily and quickly.
A hybrid SD-WAN also allows traffic to seamlessly flow between the links without any loss of quality and with a great application experience. For example, if one line is lost or experiences latency, jitter or loss of packets, the other line can take over and meet any service level agreements.