Software-Defined Wide Area Network

What Does Software-Defined Wide Area Network Mean?

A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a wide area network that utilizes software components to control network operations. Specific management software virtualizes networking hardware in the same way that hypervisors and other components virtualize data center operations.


Techopedia Explains Software-Defined Wide Area Network

A wide area network is defined as a network that includes an extensive geographical footprint – contrasted to a local area network (LAN), which is commonly isolated in one home or business office. The software control mechanism in the SD-WAN acts to manage all of these different geographic pieces of the wide area network, in order to help companies and other stakeholders with performance and efficiency, among other things.

The SD-WAN typically helps these wide area networks to handle network traffic with specific protocols, while providing a user-intuitive interface. They may also support features like firewalls, gateways and virtual private network tools for privacy. An SD-WAN can also help with redundancy, backup and recovery, and troubleshooting.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.