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The Software-Defined Network (SDN) is a well-established technology for local area networks. In traditional networks, routers determine not only where a packet needs to go but what path it will follow to get there. An SDN puts the path selection into software. This allows dynamic path assignment based on current traffic conditions, and it allows the network manager to configure the network with higher-level tools.

Building on SDN Technology

The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) expands this concept into wide area networks spanning multiple locations. Like the local SDN, it configures paths dynamically, but it deals with a broader range of connection types. An SD-WAN is often a hybrid of public and private connections. The software can determine when it's more economical to transfer packets over the public Internet, reducing the load on the private links so that they can carry high-priority traffic more quickly. This can reduce the amount of money a business has to spend on its dedicated links.

SD-WAN Versus MPLS

What an SD-WAN does is similar in some ways to a Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network. MPLS, though, relies on smarter routers rather than a software layer to assign paths. Each approach has its benefits. MPLS is the better established technology, while an SD-WAN allows more centralized control.

Choice of SD-WAN Products

The currently available SD-WAN products are quite different from each other, so it's necessary to choose carefully to find the one that's most suitable. An SD-WAN requires edge nodes running its software at each location, and these may be proprietary devices that vary significantly in cost and features. The technology is still growing, and the options will increase significantly in the coming years.

For information about how SD-WAN can improve your network, contact TelWare at 1-800-637-3148 or sales@telware.com. TelWare is a national leader in the installation of voice, video, data and unified communication solutions. TelWare is an Authorized Avaya, Star2Star and SimpleWAN Dealer.

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