A common question today centers around the difference between Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-WAN. Firstly, SD-WAN is a broad term that stands for Software Defined Wide Area Network. SD-WAN platforms are intended to guard against network downtime and allow organizations to not have dependency on any single network or internet service provider. Gen 2 SD-WAN is the most current evolution, and it capabilities are impressive.
To understand why it’s an impressive technology, a (very) brief SD-WAN history is required, and it comes in three phases:
- WAN Optimization
- Gen 1 SD-WAN
- Gen 2 SD-WAN
WAN Optimization helps increase data transfer efficiencies across a wide-area network (WAN) by usually manipulating data packets using different techniques, such as deduplication, compression, caching or proxies, and protocol spoofing. The technology is beneficial but Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-Wan can be a confusing topic.
Gen 1 SD-WAN
The 1st generation SD-WAN is characterized by 5 main features.
- Broadband Virtual Private Network (VPN) where a company usually leverages an IPsec (IP Security) protocol to create a private network over broadband public internet connections
- Split tunneling where a company can concurrently make use of multiple internet connections across their private network.
- Packet-Based routing where the Gen 1 SD-WAN platform determines internet path selection based on the company’s network health.
- Limited Application Awareness where the Gen1 SDWAN platform is aware of the company’s applications but is unable to make internet path decisions based on real-time performance of the application or even the sub-application (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.).
- Many of the Gen 1 SD-WAN platforms are dependent on a specific telecom carrier to deliver their technology to a customer.
Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-WAN
2nd Generation or Gen 2 SD-WAN was developed to fulfill all the promises of SD-WAN technology.
Gen 2 SD-WAN is designed to route based on actual application policy definitions, meaning the network is defined and automatically built to enforce policies around performance, security, and compliance. This means IT leaders can prioritize critical functions on the network, allowing various offices to function, even with limited connectivity or slow bandwidth.
Gen 2 SD-WAN also removes carrier dependencies and restrictions around how your company consumes applications (data center, private cloud, public cloud, SaaS). The results are that end-users gain the desired application performance and experience without the need for extensive networking expertise.
In the Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-WAN comparison, an added benefit of Gen 2 SD-WAN is also that it provides organizations the flexibility to seamlessly use various broadband or internet connections, managing everything from the cloud. Think about that — new locations or properties can be brought into your network with the flip of a switch, recognizing the same standards your other properties use.
Let’s be realistic, no CIO wants new technology, they want less to manage, and they want it to work. That’s why Gen 2 SD-WAN is so appealing to us and our customers.