Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-Wan Depicted by WiFi symbol

Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-Wan


A common question today centers around Gen 1 vs Gen 2 SD-WAN. SD-WAN is a broad term that literally 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’s truly an exciting technology we’ve been rolling out. 

First, here’s a brief SDWAN history. SD-WAN is categorized into 3 groups:

  1. WAN Optimization
  2. Gen 1 SD-WAN
  3. Gen 2 SD-WAN

WAN Optimization

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.

  1. 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
  2. Split tunneling where a company can concurrently make use of multiple internet connections across their private network.
  3. Packet-Based routing where the Gen 1 SD-WAN platform determines internet path selection based on the company’s network health.
  4. 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.).
  5. 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.  The network is now defined and automatically built to enforce policies around performance, security, and compliance. This means that you can prioritize critical functions on your network, allowing your various offices to function, even with limited connectivity or slow bandwidth. 

Gen 2 SD-WAN removes carrier dependencies and restrictions around how your company consumes applications (data center, private cloud, public cloud, SaaS).  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 discussion, an added benefit of Gen 2 SD-WAN is that it gives organizations the flexibility to seamlessly use various broadband or internet connections, but manages everything from the cloud. This means new locations or properties can be brought into your network with the literal flip of a switch, recognizing the same standards your other properties use.

Let’s be realistic, no CIO wants new technology, they want less, and they want it to work. That’s why Gen 2 SD-WAN is so appealing to us and our customers.

Eric Skeens is the co-founder of 3 Tree Tech. Alongside our preferred partner CloudGenix, we can get your company up and running on Gen 2 SD-WAN quickly. Call us to simplify the complex.