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The differences between SD-WAN, SD-LAN and SD-Branch

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The differences between SD-WAN, SD-LAN and SD-Branch

After decades of relying on MPLS service providers to connect their branches to data centers, many organizations began exploring SD-WAN solutions in the 2010s.

Although MPLS is far from extinct as of 2020, the SD-WAN market has grown rapidly as enterprises and SMBs seek better performance (particularly for cloud-based services), lower costs and more streamlined management than a traditional hub-and-spoke MPLS WAN can deliver. An Avant survey of 300 companies found that SD-WAN was the “most disruptive” network technology of 2019, underscoring how it has radically reshaped WAN deployment and management.

SD-WAN is an outgrowth of SDN (software-defined networking) and it has recently been joined on the market by offerings branded as SD-LAN and SD-Branch. Let’s break down the differences between these terms and how the solutions themselves can interact with each other.

What is SD-WAN?

An SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture, in which control of the network is centralized in software and any type of network transport (broadband, cellular and satellite, in addition to MPLS) is potentially usable. 

From one web-based console, an admin can manage network policies, such as one determining which applications can be sent directly across the internet and which require redirection to a cloud security service or backhauling to a data center. Different circuits can also be aggregated as needed. All of this can be done without touching any of the actual physical infrastructures in question.

Accordingly, SD-WANs enable:

  • Better application performance for VoIP, video conferencing and SaaS.
  • Lower transport costs and higher bandwidth thanks to compatibility with MPLS alternatives.
  • Distributed modern security options that extend to the WAN edge.
  • Clear visibility into app performance and status.
  • Easier deployment to branch offices and data centers.



What is SD-LAN? 

SD-LAN extends a similar set of benefits, especially related to performance, to wireless and wired access networks, i.e. LANs. An SD-LAN might have capabilities for:

  • Software-defined radios for handling multiple Wi-Fi frequencies and technologies.
  • Segmentation of network traffic, for example from guest Wi-Fi.
  • Sharing of the same policies across many different pieces of network infrastructure.
  • Dynamic LAN optimization for current app priorities and policies.
  • Programmability through open APIs.
  • Clear visibility into and control of IoT devices on the LAN. 

Like SD-WANs, SD-LANs make it easier to manage, operate and scale networks, in the context of increasing consumption of cloud services in general and more demanding real-time applications in particular.

What is SD-Branch?

SD-Branch is a combination of SD-WAN and SD-LAN. While either of those two can be deployed without the other, combining them creates the best possible architecture for multi-site networking.

An SD-Branch solution will greatly simplify WAN and LAN administration, with features for:

  • Centralized management in the cloud.
  • Zero-touch deployments for remote sites.
  • Self-provisioned VPNs for maximum security.
  • Synchronization of configurations across multiple networks.
  • Precise traffic shaping and group policies.
  • Simplified control of switch fabric at branches.
  • Real-time diagnostics and alerts.

Taken together, these capabilities make SD-Branch ideal for reducing network costs and ensuring reliable performance for both TCP and real-time applications in use.

Telesystem can help you navigate the path toward SD-WAN, SD-LAN, and even SD-Branch. Our experienced team will guide you through each stage of the process - learn more by contacting them today to get started!

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