While organizations have accessed virtualization through the wide area network (WAN) for many years now, the ability to virtualize in the data center has allowed the technology to accelerate and become accessible to more enterprises. As data center virtualization continues to progress with the addition of software-defined network (SDN) technology, the advances made may begin to extend out to the WAN.

There are limitations to how SDN can filter out to the WAN, because much of the WAN isn’t affected by SDN beyond virtual private network (VPN) or virtual local area network (VLAN). This is where WAN can be impacted by another new connectivity development that makes virtualization easier for almost any size of business: the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).

Some IT teams are able to counter the limitations of SDN by configuring the network with an edge solution to host virtual router instances. Using software routers in combination with the latest server technology can allow for bigger corporations to construct a virtual corporate network.

The problem is that this type of solution is out of reach for mid-size and small businesses. Even for a larger enterprise, using SD-WAN solutions may be more cost-effective and offer a streamlined alternative to edge computing.

SD-WAN offers a solution that layers over whatever network solutions are available, including multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), SDN virtual wires, or the public internet. To the user, the services are not visible and they only see the paths of the network traffic. Meanwhile, the administrator is able to manage the paths or the services underneath from a single control panel.

SD-WAN doesn’t solve every challenge. Utilizing an edge computing model normally requires the creation of traffic policies for prioritizing network activity to certain interfaces and channels. If there are many sites to connect, it could create a rather large forwarding plane. It may be necessary to designate some sites as a router that connects to a smaller site and directs traffic.

One solution is to combine SD-WAN with hosted virtual routers to aggregate and distribute network traffic in places where it makes sense, such as regional branch locations. The SD-WAN endpoints in each location would then connect with that region’s hosted virtual router in order to connect with other regional locations.

At SimpleWAN, we offer a “single pane of glass” dashboard where you can manage the requirements of your network. No matter how many locations you have, or if you’re working at the office or at home, you can manage your network needs from the dashboard. To find out more about networking solutions for your company, contact SimpleWAN.