MythBusters, SD-WAN edition 

SD-WAN is no longer a hype technology but a proven and widely used approach in many organizations. However, as I keep hearing some misconceptions around the topic, I thought the time is ripe to bust a couple of myths! 
Today, more and more operators have SD-WAN as a standard offering in their portfolio. Fortinet alone, one of the emerging major SD-WAN vendors globally, announced 16 new operator partnerships in 2020. Its YoY FortiGate based SD-WAN product revenue also increased by 16% in the same time frame. So, it's safe to say, SD-WAN is becoming a real and mature alternative to traditional MPLS and IP-VPN.

Before, during, and after making the technological jump to SD-WAN, network leaders in charge of keeping the corporate network up to speed are faced with changing conditions. The emergence of multi-cloud-based implementations challenge the traditional network topology. Covid-19 redefined what used to be considered a traditional office network. Finally, the increasing security threats and attacks are becoming a debilitating force for the business, as testified in national and international headlines of ransomware attacks.

Here’s a few common claims that the corporate network planner and decision maker should take with a grain of salt:

  1. SD-WAN is the fastest technology out there to move bits around the network. It is true that SD-WAN comes with application awareness and genuinely intelligent load balancing algorithms, so it will route your most important application traffic over the most efficient WAN connection at any point in time. However, the software defined intelligence still requires robust WAN connections to power the solution. Make sure the WAN connection is not the bottleneck, and preferably redundant (2 internet accesses), otherwise the SD-WAN deployment is not used to its full potential.
  2. SD-WAN is the most cost-efficient way of building a network. Especially in Finland, MPLS connectivity does come relatively cheap, so that statement doesn't always ring true. Cost efficiency becomes however very relevant the moment a company has offices abroad, or for example, high-quality mobile connectivity is available at customer locations.
  3. Cost savings is why network planners should primarily look into SD-WAN. Cost efficiency again, in my humble opinion, should not be priority 1 for the network planner. Ensuring business continuity should be the top priority. SD-WAN offers unrivaled built-in security, load balancing, application prioritization, centralized reporting and visibility, to mention a few valuable tools in the network manager toolbox. DNA Secure SD-WAN for instance comes complete with threat protection (Firewall, Antivirus, Intrusion Prevention System, Application Control), SSL/TLS deep-packet inspection with minimal performance degradation and Web Filtering.

What is my view on the SD-WAN move, from traditional MPLS designs? I could give a diplomatically correct answer and say, "it depends on the customer use case", which of course is always true. DNA also offers both technologies in our portfolio and it would not be wise for one to cannibalize the other. I am personally somewhat paranoid about the security aspect of the network and therefore highly appreciate the visibility and extra tools SD-WAN gives the network administrator. As a result, I would lean towards SD-WAN, powered by a good quality Internet or Broadband. But that's me, what about you?


R-kioski recently renewed the telecommunications connections of its entire chain to meet current requirements. The software-defined networking (SD-WAN) solution is safeguarded and ensures better operational reliability for the whole chain.