How SD-WAN Improves Network Application Performance

Building a better, faster and frictionless network is a significant priority for IT and Network managers. But the prevalence and use of third-party platforms such as cloud and hosted applications, big data and analytics in the business ecosystem, are increasing the amount of stress on these networks. And poor network performance reduces productivity, which ultimately causes an organization’s top and bottom line to suffer.

This is why enterprises across the globe are embracing Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) as a solution to procure agile, efficient and integrated application connections across the IT ecosystem. This ready acceptance in its adoption can be seen in its projected sales. SD-WAN’s growth is expected to hit $34.9 Billion by 2022, according to Gartner, Inc. SD-WAN market forecast

Here are the pressing issues when it comes to application performance:

  • Inconsistent Bandwidth- An office that wants their employees to watch training videos on Youtube may not have the network bandwidth to accommodate the heavy demand that video streaming requires. Not enough bandwidth can cause network congestion and packet loss. While cloud-based applications are becoming the mainstay of all businesses, it is essential to acknowledge that every web-based application needs bandwidth and needs to be supported with a scalable solution. Insufficient bandwidth and high latency cause poor experience among hosted applications especially if there’s a mismatch of bandwidth between the sender and destination network. When data is sent from a higher bandwidth LAN to lower speed WAN networks, it can create a queue of packets waiting to be received. If network congestion doesn’t get relieved and more packets keep getting piled up, tail-drop can occur, or the router will buffer and discard packets randomly (RED).
  • Poor experience of hosted applications – An overloaded server or overstressed communication device can produce bottlenecks which takes a toll on application performance. Usually, poor application performance is identified after it happens, once users start complaining about app crashes, slow load or problems while carrying out a specific task within a hosted app. But this downtime can prove to be a costly endeavor. 98% of businesses’ surveyed by ITIC said that just 1 hour of downtime costs over $100,000 in revenue. But, even if your business isn’t that big, slow application performance will still reduce employee productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Lack of offsite backups due to poor bandwidth- Running backup systems during regular working hours, when the network is already strained, can exhaust all available bandwidth, which can cause important business systems to crash during work time. This effect compounds greatly during the first initial offsite backup which can take minutes to days. If not relieved, this congestion can create an upload bottleneck and impact download speeds. But offsite backups are critical for businesses when data has essentially become their pulse- an invaluable asset. Offsite backups are necessary for two reasons: First, Cyber threats- Cyber Attack, like Ransomware, corrupts the whole network which is what back up servers are a part of. To prevent this, having backup drives separate from their parent network becomes even more critical; the second reason is physical damage. It’s hard to prepare for a hurricane, flood, fire and unexpected excess humidity, all of which can cause physical damage to onsite backup servers. Since offsite backups are critical, so is the need to ensure that your network can support the necessary bandwidth it requires.

How SD-WAN improves application performance

1. Speed and availability- Bandwidth-intensive and lag-sensitive applications like VoIP and Unified Communications are increasingly running over WAN optimization technologies, but many aren’t sophisticated enough to support these critical applications. SD-WAN, though, provides increased visibility and flexibility to prioritize voice packets. Hybrid deployments also provide the ability to rapidly shift traffic between MPLS and public internet connections. All enterprises want to give their network users a seamless, undeterred, experience, SD-WAN brings that want to fruition.

2. Effective load balancing- IT networks are filled with applications requiring different levels of services. Some may be more latency-sensitive, while others might work well without straining the network. Instead of letting performance-intensive applications congest a network and ruin it for all applications, SD- WAN solutions enable flexible pathways depending on individual application requirements. It prevents congestion spots from being created by diverting the traffic to alternate less-busy channels. This ensures a reliable flow of data transfer, instead of making it vulnerable to getting lost, dropped or blocked.

3. SD-WAN offers affordable flexibility- Traditionally WAN meant carrier MPLS and expensive, proprietary routers at every site. This solution is expensive and difficult to change and expand, especially if your organization has branches all over the globe or a sophisticated IT environment. The essence of SD-WAN is that it enables businesses to fully take advantage of any available connection types to provide connectivity, allowing sites to be turned up rapidly. And off-the-shelf hardware reduces capital costs, eliminates the need for maintenance contracts and eliminates the need for deploying expensive professional services resources to set up the network. SD-WAN automates the process of configuring and deploying network characteristics and hardware profiles. With the click of a button and some data entry, new sites are added to the WAN remotely.