What is the difference between SD-WAN and traditional WAN?

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The evolution of communication networks has been ongoing since the first radio transmissions over 100 years ago. With recent technology advancements, companies have been looking for ways to improve the efficiency and capacity of their networks while reducing costs. One of the newest developments in this field is the concept of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). The concept of SD-WAN is a relatively new one, but it has already made an impact on the enterprise networking landscape. This article seeks to explore the differences between traditional WAN technology and the newer SD-WAN technology.
Traditional WAN

A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a type of network that connects two or more geographically separated locations, such as two offices or a home and an office. The traditional WAN infrastructure consists of physical hardware, such as routers, switches, and firewalls. It also requires in-depth configuration to ensure that traffic is routed correctly. The traditional WAN architecture has been around for decades and is still used widely today.

While the traditional WAN architecture has a few advantages, it also has several drawbacks. For one, traditional WANs are costly to operate, since they require the purchase of expensive hardware and the hiring of dedicated IT personnel for setup and upkeep. Additionally, traditional WANs are not very flexible; they require manual configuration and often cannot be changed quickly in response to changing network needs and demands.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN)

Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a new technology that seeks to address some of the limitations of traditional WANs. SD-WAN works by virtualizing the entire WAN instead of relying on physical hardware. This means that no specialized hardware is required; all that is needed is a software deployment, which simplifies the entire process.

SD-WAN also offers increased flexibility. Instead of manual configuration, SD-WAN relies on a single control plane, which allows for dynamic changes and policy updates. This makes it possible for administrators to quickly respond to changes in demand or to add new services or applications to the network. Additionally, SD-WAN networks are typically much less costly than traditional WANs, as they require less hardware and less overhead.

Differences between SD-WAN & Traditional WAN

Although both SD-WAN and traditional WANs are designed to enable communication between multiple sites, there are several key differences between these two technologies.

The most fundamental difference between the two is in how they are configured. Traditional WANs rely heavily on physical hardware, while SD-WANs are virtualized on a single platform. This means that SD-WANs can be modified more quickly and easily than traditional WANs, which require extensive manual configuration.

Additionally, SD-WANs are typically much more cost-effective than traditional WANs. Since SD-WANs do not require the purchase of physical hardware, businesses are able to reduce their total expenditure significantly. Finally, SD-WANs offer increased flexibility and scalability. As mentioned previously, SD-WANs are able to respond quickly to changing network needs, and can be scaled up or down quickly depending on demand.


The emergence of SD-WAN technology has revolutionized the WAN landscape, providing businesses with increased flexibility, scalability, and cost-savings. While traditional WANs have been in use for decades, their inefficiencies have become increasingly apparent in recent years. For this reason, many businesses are turning to SD-WAN technology as the superior solution for their networking needs.

SD-WANs offer significant advantages over traditional WANs, including simplified configuration, increased flexibility, and cost-efficiency. Ultimately, the choice between these two technologies comes down to what best suits your business’s specific needs. By understanding the differences between them, you can make the right decision for your organization.

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