From MPLS to Software-Defined Wide Area Network

Contributed by David Mitchell

Enterprises and companies have depended on private networks, such as private T1 access to MPLS service for their bandwidth performance. The high cost of these services has encouraged the technology industries to develop some cheaper solutions as technology evolved. The support of more demanding real-time applications were limited due to the high cost of these private networks. A simple 1.5Mbps T1 circuit could cost more than $400 or more per month. Most companies or enterprises relied on these costly secured private networks to provide high availability and high performance. The ever-changing technology evolution has provided a way for enterprise and companies to move or lease their applications to a cloud based data center. The demand for more resources that are accessible rapidly helped to bring about the software defined network. Software defined networks (SDN) have provided companies with the ability to control and manage the network by a central software platform that is separate from the hardware. Software defined networks helped to introduce Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) as a way to extend the software defined networks to branches. SD-WAN allow companies to use a cost-effective transport such as Internet, MPLS, wireless and broadband. It provides a way for companies or enterprises to add resources with existing devices and circuits. This cost-effective solution is starting to attract various businesses as they look for ways to decrease their headcount and budgets. In this paper, we will examine the components of SDN, components of SD-WAN, and the benefit for adapting both in a future technology solution. We will also look at possible challenges associated with SDN and SDWAN. The purpose is aimed to educate the reader about SDN and SD-WAN technologies.

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