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3 ways to improve WAN performance with SD-WAN

SD-WAN can improve WAN performance in three ways: It adds a secondary transport for network traffic, while also taking advantage of broadband Ethernet and application acceleration.

Software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN, offers companies a variety of operational benefits. Among the most important is the opportunity to improve WAN bandwidth. This is a key factor for businesses as rich applications and VoIP continue to consume significant bandwidth at the branch.

SD-WAN's management and control overlay can improve WAN performance and increase branch bandwidth in three ways.

  1. The addition of a secondary transport. Most branches have a single transport for WAN communications due to the cost and complexity of adding a second transport. With an SD-WAN, adding and managing a second transport -- such as broadband or LTE -- is significantly easier, enabling a business to double its transport and, effectively, its bandwidth.
  2. Replacing lower-bandwidth MPLS leased lines with the fatter pipes of broadband Ethernet. Many organizations might be hesitant to touch their properly running WAN connections, leaving well enough alone. But an SD-WAN deployment provides a perfect inflection point for the business to improve WAN performance by considering changing to broadband Ethernet. The additional SD-WAN control helps offset some of the traditional low-latency benefits of MPLS, making Ethernet a more viable option as a single transport.
  3. The dynamic tools of SD-WAN services. Certain products, such as Silver Peak's Unity Boost, bring years of tried-and-true WAN optimization to the SD-WAN arena. These tools can increase bandwidth by optimizing the traffic running over the WAN transport rather than expanding the connection footprint. Data compression or deduplication can help reduce the amount of traffic, while application acceleration can help optimize latency-sensitive applications.

All of these SD-WAN considerations help improve WAN performance and optimize WAN traffic between headquarters and branches -- whether extra bandwidth is actually added or the connection just makes better use of the bandwidth it already has.

This was last published in January 2020

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