SD Wan: What is SD-WAN? | Neos Networks

What is SD-WAN?

Enabling organisations to separate the underlying connectivity from the overlay WAN intelligence

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is short for software-defined wide area networking. It enables organisations to separate the underlying connectivity (underlay) from the overlay WAN intelligence (optimisation, security, traffic routing/steering etc.). 

It has a number of benefits, including but not limited to: enhanced visibility of traffic types on your WAN; the ability to use multiple connectivity options for a single site; and automatic routing of traffic via preferred connectivity types, based on connectivity cost or latency metrics. You can also determine the traffic that will break out to the internet locally, rather than routing traffic centrally, which can improve cloud application performance for end users. Centrally controlling the connectivity rules for cloud applications underpins quicker rollout and smoother adoption within an organisation.

What are the benefits of using SD-WAN for your business?

Modern-day business practices, such as videoconferencing, streaming and virtualised desktops place huge demands on an organisation’s network. This issue is exacerbated when the business has several sites spread over a wide geographical area. SD-WAN copes with these demands better than a traditional WAN, by monitoring and analysing real-time traffic data and migrating traffic accordingly. Therefore, SD-WAN can help to reduce the effects of network congestion, packet loss and packet delay variation. 

Network operators can reconfigure the network to devote greater bandwidth to critical applications, without compromising on privacy or security. And better user experience does, of course, contribute to improved productivity and agility in working practices.


Launched in the 1990s, the multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) routing technique has been a favourite for businesses for a number of years now. It offered a more efficient alternative to internet protocol for private business networks. However, whilst MPLS connections offer benefits such as delivering quality of service (QoS) and lower packet loss (data loss), the cost of these networks can be higher than other connectivity types.

SD-WAN can use a combination of MPLS connectivity as well as lower cost internet connectivity, or just internet connectivity on its own. This enables businesses to build and scale their network to meet their needs more cost effectively, using MPLS capacity for applications where needed, and cheaper connectivity options where it makes sense.

SD-WAN should provide greater insight into the data types on an organisation’s network, allowing businesses to make more informed decisions about connectivity usage and scaling, reducing costs where they can.

Another benefit of an SD-WAN is the level of automation that is built into the management overlay of the service. The organisation’s responses to changes in its operational environment of the WAN can be set up prior to an event occurring. For example, this can enable the WAN to respond very quickly to events like spikes in usage, connectivity outages or new traffic types, limiting the impact on employees or company systems.

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  • MPLS vs SD-WAN


    Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) has been popular for a number of years now and is very good at providing robust and reliable connectivity as well as ensuring critical business information continues to flow, but it’s flexibility has also become a limiting factor. It's important to be aware of what the differences between MPLS vs SD-WAN are in order to make the best choice for your business needs.

  • What is a Wide Area Network (WAN)?


    A single geographically distributed private telecommunications network that is made up of Local Area Networks (LAN) in the form of private lines, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), virtual private networks (VPNs), wireless (cellular) and the Internet. Its architecture, protocols and technologies have evolved to become SD-WAN.

  • What is SD-WAN?


    Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is a specific application of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technology applied to WAN connections, which are used to connect networks – including branch offices, headquarters, cloud platforms and data centres – over large geographic distances. SD-WAN distributes network traffic across the WAN which automatically determines the most effective way to route traffic to and from site locations and data centre sites.


  • What is a Local Area Network (LAN)?


    A LAN covers a limited geographical area and provides networks within a single office building or campus. A LAN comprises cables, access points, switches, routers, and other components that enable devices to connect to internal servers. Two of the most common LANs are Ethernet and Wi-Fi.


  • What is IP-VPN?


    Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN) is one of the many types of WAN technology available. Find out more on what is an IP-VPN and the business benefits that could help your organisation.

  • What are the benefits of SD-WAN?


    An SD-WAN service can optimise traffic flows to improve performance and cost at branch sites. This enables businesses to dynamically route traffic across a hybrid-WAN based on the current network status by utilising multiple connections. Learn more about the benefits of SD-WAN.


  • What are the benefits of IP-VPN?


    Aside from the security benefits of using an IP-VPN, this system has various other advantages for organisations. Since it’s based on MPLS, the network traffic can be monitored and managed for quality and efficiency, as well as usage.

    What’s more, IP-VPNs give businesses the ability to adjust the network performance to meet business needs, pushing certain traffic to the front of the queue as required. It’s also possible to access – and learn from – historical reports on usage and bandwidth statistics. Find out more here.

  • The importance of managed WAN services


    With a managed wide area network, your network will be monitored and managed from an operations centre. Your provider will ensure secure traffic management across multiple sites, making certain that your network is performing at its best. Some providers allow you to view your network’s performance in real time. You’ll be alerted when there’s an issue, and kept in the loop while the problem is fixed. Managed WAN services also let you choose between different bandwidth and transport options, keeping your business agile.

  • What is hybrid WAN and what are the benefits?


    Simply put, a hybrid WAN uses two different WAN circuits to transmit traffic between an organisation’s sites and data centres. These circuits can be used in a variety of combinations: a broadband and an MPLS circuit, a broadband and a cellular circuit, an internet and MPLS circuit, and so on.

    The secondary circuit can be used to provide backup in case the primary circuit fails or is performing badly due to congestion. Or the secondary circuit can play a more active part in a network strategy, supplying additional resiliency and reliability. Hybrid WANs do, however, need managing if they are to use the secondary as anything other than a failsafe. Find out more here.