What is SDN-WAN?
Software-defined networking wide area network (SDN-WAN) is a term used to describe how network operators can leverage SDN to deliver services more efficiently across multiple technologies like MPLS, LTE, or broadband.
The more commonly used term is software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). SDN-WAN is a specific application of SDN that is applied to the WAN and used to connect enterprise networks, including branch offices and data centers, over vast geographic distances.
The term SDN-WAN is similar to WAN SDN, which is used by Juniper Networks to describe its NorthStar Controller product. Juniper calls NorthStar a WAN SDN controller that optimizes Internet traffic over MPLS. The goal is to integrate the IP network and the optical network for service providers that want to use their networks for data center interconnection in the metro network.
Meanwhile, SD-WAN is of growing interest to enterprises. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN in their branch locations. And International Data Corp (IDC) estimates that worldwide SD-WAN revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 90 percent over the 2015-2020 timeframe.
Because of the potential of SD-WAN, may startups are going after this lucrative market. Pus, many established companies, like networking giants Cisco, Nokia/Nuage, and Juniper all have their own variations of SD-WAN technology, too.
Of course, not every newcomer will likely succeed in this fast-paced area. Here’s a list of some early SD-WAN startups that have received funding: Aryaka, CloudGenix, Silver Peak, Talari, TELoIP, VeloCloud, Versa Networks, and Viptela.
SDN vs SDN-WAN
SDN and SDN-WAN share similarities in that both are enabled by the separation of the control plane and the data plane. Plus, both are also designed to run on commodity x86 hardware, and they also can both be virtualized and support the integration of virtual network functions (VNFs) such as security.
However, they are different technologies. SDN-WAN is focused on providing software-defined application routing capabilities for WANs and connecting an organization’s different locations or data centers. SDN, meanwhile, is focused within the LAN or within the service provider’s core networks.
Why is SD-WAN So Appealing?
SD-WAN is a fairly new development in the market that came about as a way to leverage existing hybrid WAN architectures by using a centralized application-based policy controller with analytics for application and network visibility as well as a software overlay. Some SD-WAN architectures include an SD-WAN forwarder that provides intelligent path selection across WAN links.
SD-WAN is growing in popularity because it makes delivery of business applications more cost effective and also improves branch-IT efficiency through automation. It also allows enterprises to reduce their MPLS costs, which is why so many companies are planning to migrate to SD-WAN in the coming year.