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Community Challenge: SD-WAN, Explained

Community Manager



SD-WAN is a popular topic these days, but it can be difficult to explain to a layperson.


Your challenge this month is to describe SD-WAN in non-technical terms.


Imagine you had to explain the concept to a classroom of smart but non-technical high school students, or to an acquaintance at a cocktail party (clearly a raging party!). What's a real-world analogy you can use to describe what SD-WAN is and how it works?


We encourage you to use pictures or diagrams (or even video!?) to help your explanation come to life.


The winners will each receive a Meraki mini-fridge (picture below)!


How to enter

Submit your contest entry in a comment on this blog post before 11 a.m. PDT on Monday (December 10, 2018). This time around, entries won’t be made public until voting starts. After you submit your entry, you’ll see a message reading “Your post will appear as soon as it is approved.”


Update: This contest is over! Here's the announcement of the winners.


How to win

Voting begins when submissions close (at 11 a.m. PDT on Monday, December 10, 2018), and continues through the work week. Voting closes at 11 a.m. PDT on Friday, December 14, 2018.


Update: This contest is over! Here's the announcement of the winners.


We will be selecting 2 winners:

  1. The Community Favorite — chosen by you, our Community members. Cast your vote by giving kudos (image) to your favorite entries. The entry with the most kudos from community members who aren't Meraki employees will win!
  2. The Meraki Favorite — a panel of experts here at Meraki will select the Meraki Favorite prize, judging entries on creativity, completeness, and accuracy.


Each winner will receive a Meraki mini-fridge! 


Meraki mini-fridgeMeraki mini-fridge




The Fine Print

  • Limit one entry per community member.
  • Submission period: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 7am PDT through Monday, December 10, 2018 at 10:59am PDT
  • Voting period: Monday, December 10, 2018 at 11am PDT through Friday, December 14 at 11am PDT
  • Prize will be a selection of Meraki swag with value not exceeding USD50.00
  • Official terms, conditions, and eligibility information

SD WAN is like having several jet engines on an airplane. you do not need them all to fly, but when you do, your faster and more stable. 

This way if one failed the other one keeps you flying....


SD-WAN is a way to remove high cost, low speed connections from your locations and replace them with lower cost, higher speed connections. SD-WAN gives you flexibility of choosing any provider that can give you public internet connection and create a secure connection on it. Save money and get more for it, what else can you ask for.


SD-WAN is similar to google maps, or waze GPS app. The app builds a route, and uses the traffic volume, transit time, and alternate paths, to find the best route to the destination. But like these apps, you can also enter additional criteria such as avoid tolls, avoid bad roads, avoid this and that, etc... there is even the option to take the best route based on the transit type, such as walking, or driving, or bike riding. SD-WAN functions similarly. You can simply take the best path, but when traffic picks up, select and alternative route. Or if using one application called bike, then take the path selected for bike. If using an application called bus, then take the path defined for bus. if using an application called car, avoid delays SD-WAN is basically a super fast way to calculate traffic and provide the best path based on the application, or method of transport, and the costs associated with that selection.


UPDATE: This entry was the Community Choice Prize winner! Here's the announcement. Congratulations, mmistretta! 🎉


Here to help

Remember the olden days, when every house had a land line? If you wanted to talk to your relatives, you picked up the phone and dialed via your land line. In fact, it never crossed your mind to use anything but your land line - why would it?


Fast forward a few years, and cell phones are pervasive. Thorough testing has shown that the call quality isn't quite as good as a land line, yet call quality is rarely an issue. Besides, the best-of-breed phones can handle two SIM cards. If you can't get a Verizon signal, the phone will automatically switch to AT&T's network.


The world of network connectivity is going through the same kind of generational change right now. Instead of MPLS circuits, which everyone used to buy without thinking twice about it, companies are now buying Internet bandwidth because it's so cheap. And with a Meraki MX, if one Internet circuit is suffering, the other one will automatically be used instead.

Getting noticed

SD-WAN, put simply, is the ability to make your network redundant. In a business world it can be crucial that you have a working internet connection for both corporate computers, and in some cases point of sale. With SD-WAN you are able to take multiple internet connections, referred to as uplinks and have them act in tandem to strengthen your network. You can have one be active, and the other sitting there waiting for the main one to fail due to an outage, so it can then take its place as the new active connection. Alternatively, they can both be active and you can shape the traffic as you see fit.


Shaping traffic is a whole different can of worms, but to briefly touch on it, you can balance the load of your traffic between your two uplinks and even go so far as to set custom rules that only certain traffic traverse one uplink and other traffic out another. In a real world scenario, you may want to allow video or streaming traffic out your faster internet uplink, and other traffic like web browsing out of a slower uplink.


You could even set rules for traffic based on a specific computer being able to only access one of the uplinks, or a specific department in an office building, the power and choice is all yours. 

New here

SD-WAN is a faster and lower cost way to build (and manage) long distance networks. Instead of individual (typically command line based) control of, for instance, routers, control is centralized under one interface. This has multiple advantages: It simplifies network policy configuration and deployment, which allows changes across an organization through one central interface instead of making individual changes per branch/location/device. Also, it allows multiple paths to be utilized, such as broadband connections, instead of having to use expensive private circuits such as MPLS, point-to-point, etc. These benefits combine to lower costs -- both in IT staff resources and in infrastructure fees. The result is a cheaper, more agile, easier to manage network.


I was asked this question the other day, and the answer came as quick as it was asked.

My answer was, SD-WAN is kind of like Waze, the app for directions.

Say your driving along, and you have plans to get someplace important.  Along the way, a bridge is out, or a road is closed.  No worries, Waze (SD-WAN) simply picks another road.  The beauty part is, you get to choose those other roads, and they can be as quick and reliable as you want. and plenty as needed.  It works for congestion too...or to mitigate it.  Simply tell Waze (SD-WAN) that you don't want to pay tolls or go on problem.  Do you have passengers who want to see scenic problem (this might be similar to telling applications to go over a more secure route).



Here to help

A popular buzzword in the IT community has been, and continues to be 'SD-WAN'.  Software-Defined WAN refers to the ability to use software to make decisions when it comes to routing traffic between sites within a corporation or business.  This is different from the legacy WAN (wide area network) architecture, which traditionally utilized a primary path, and sometimes a secondary or failover path.  This legacy model introduced issues related to paying for a secondary connection (usually broadband or other low-cost internet) that may never be used, or may only be used a few days a year.  A big problem with this was the inability for IT teams to determine if the secondary path was working as expected without testing in a DR scenario; ISP changes or configuration adjustments could result in this back-up tunnel not performing as expected, if at all.  With SD-WAN, you're able to utilize multiple connections to connect remote sites to your primary Data Center simultaneously, allowing for better performance, and better redundancy to your remote sites (in essence, allowing a business to utilize multiple connections they already pay for without needing a fail scenario to leverage them).  The benefit to this offering is that a business can configure their SD-WAN devices so there is a preferred route for critical traffic, and then define parameters on the links so that if one is not performing well, there is an automatic change in the routes the traffic takes, making an SD-WAN architecture highly-available and automated.  At the end of the day, there 'can' be cost savings, but what I see mostly is that for the same spend, a business can greatly improve the performance and reliability of their WAN offering.  


SD-WAN  is a way to make sure you internet traffic gets where it needs to go the most reliable way possible.

Just browsing

Software Defined Wide Area Network


Skynet Directed Whole Artery Nexus

I kid.. 

Simply put, it's way of directing existing networking technology that adds more resilience, simplicity, and support of connection types and third party services.

New here

SD-WAN is a smart innovative software solution to provide intelligent dynamic robustness network services.

Just browsing


My company have create a SD-WAN Video in German Language to explain how works SD-WAN. Many Video explain it in English but for our Customer we need it in German.


Take a look 🙂 and have Fun 🙂


Sven from KAEMI

Just browsing

SD-WAN - Think it like an secure and private railroad into a public landscape, there your tracks and switches will be your network and end stations will be your headquarters and branches. Every track and switches connects automatic to your private network.


A fancy VPN solution. Auto highway election.



Software-defined networking (SDN) is a design or construct with a purpose to make networks more responsive and flexible. The goal is to improve network control by enabling engineers to respond quickly to changing business requirement through centralized control.


Like SDN, SD-WAN is the shortening for software-defined networking in a wide area network (WAN). An SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN through centralized control or by separating the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

Just browsing

SD-WAN allows a person / company the ability to create network redundancy between their data center and their sites / locations using low cost bandwidth such as broadband.  Network redundancy can be very costly and complex the conventional way while SD-WAN simplifies the experience and allow you to scale eaisily when using Meraki MX devices.


SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide-Area Networking, is a subset of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which is itself an umbrella term encompassing several network technologies with the purpose of making the network agile and flexible. SDN includes the common network boundaries, or delineations, such as:

  • SDA - Software-Defined Access works commonly in the campus network delineation such as wired and wireless access for endpoints
  • SDDC - Software-Defined Data Center obviously encompasses data center network technologies such as high-speed LAN access for compute and storage
  • SDWAN - Software-Defined Wide-Area Network focuses primarily on WAN technologies which includes public access circuits such as Direct Internet or MPLS


Each of these delineations share the same four basic pillars, or goals:

  • Abstraction - De-coupling the Management plane, the Control plane and the Data plane allows for simplified management in the User Interface while allowing for configurations to be executed but the complexity is hidden from human eyes.
  • Automation - Rapid provisioning (centralized), on-the-fly traffic flow and data path selection, end-to-end configuration services
  • Analytics - Centralized flow-based collection of data from network devices, real-time visibility and mitigation, telemetry (back-in-time visibility)
  • Security - Microsegmentation, group tags, Network-wide end-to-end policy enforcement


SD-WAN incorporates the use of "overlays" to accomplish these goals. The idea is to create a multi-path OSI Layer 3 network as the "underlay", or foundation. The underlay should be highly available and resilient, able to re-route in case of any path outage. Overlay technologies such as DMVPN and mGRe are used to create an OSI Layer 2 tunnel from end-to-end. As this statement implies, end devices are able to communicate with other end devices at Layer 2, ensuring that the complexity of the underlay is completely transparent. To manage such an architecture manually would be a very large undertaking because first of all one must manage the complexity of the underlay, then one must manage the overlay as an entirely separate network. This is the advantage of Abstraction and Automation. A centralized management platform is able to communicate directly to network appliances over the Management plane, while network devices can communicate with each other using the Control plane. Separating these planes out of the traditional single-use Data plane ensures that things like configurations, path selections and policy enforcement can happen unimpeded by events which may occur on the Data plane.


Below is a high-level example of a typical use-case topology for SD-WAN:

SD-WAN Example.jpg

Getting noticed


think of it like race from A-to-B

but add multiple races at the same time: A-B, C-A, B-D, D-A, C-D


there are multiple paths you could take motorways (MPLS), country lanes (Internet) or you could even fly (LTE).

using SD-WAN is always letting you know the best way to go at all times

sometimes the motorway is busy or an accident slows down traffic so you may be better off on the country lane

maybe there is no other choice but to fly as its the faster/only option


SD-WAN manages and monitors all available routes and provides traffic with the best path to take


SD-WAN also provides options:

maybe you want to split your traffic sending all your traffic send your important traffic down the motorways and your bulk traffic down the country lanes so that you know the motorway is always running at its top speed

if some of the bulk traffic slows down on the country lanes its not so bad as you critical traffic is running fine on the motorway



SD-WAN provides options to use multiple WAN technologies to provide additional bandwidth and resilience with cost savings to go with it


attached is a terrible caveman pictures









Comes here often

Imagine you are a rich person living in a beautiful private island, right across a town on the mainland, where your office is located. Your island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, so you can commute to work by car, boat or if you are really in a rush, you can take your helicopter (remember I told you are rich!). No matter what happens, you really need to commute to the office. Most of the time you can just commute by car, no problem. If the traffic is bad, and you are not in a rush, you can commute on your boat. But if the traffic is bad and you are really in a rush, you can commute on your helicopter! (pretty awesome eh!)


Now imagine:


You = Data

Car = Internet Fibre Link

Boat = Internet Cable Link

Helicopter = Wireless 4G Link


SD-WAN is the magic that allows your data to reach its destination using the best available path without complex network setups



Getting noticed

SDWAN is comparable to a shopping centre at a location which has many roads leading to it. Some of these roads are sealed, some are dirt. Generally speaking, the sealed roads provide a quicker path to and from the shopping centre. In order to best distribute traffic, the 4 wheel drive vehicles leave the shopping centre via the dirt road and the normal vehicles leave the shopping centre via the sealed road (scenic path). Whilst the luxury cars leave the shopping centre via the more direct sealed road.


However, on rare occasions during bad weather some of the roads become flooded which greatly reduces or completely cut off access. When such events occur an alternate path is chosen.


For example, if the luxury cars are able to but greatly impacted or totally unable to go via the most direct sealed road due to flooding, they will try the scenic route sealed road followed by the dirt road until a more reliable path is viable. Each luxury vehicle will check the status of the roads as they leave the shopping centre. Alternatively if the dirt road and sealed scenic road is flooded, the 4 wheel drive vehicle will go via the direct sealed road, again each 4 wheel drive will check the status of the roads before they leave the shopping centre.


WAN's = Roads (Sealed Direct, Sealed Scenic, Dirt)

Applications = Cars (Luxury, Normal, 4x4)



Hope you enjoy the analogy Smiley LOL