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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 means it simplifies and managing the network which can be done simultaneously and taking the opportunity to maximize the usage of the broadband connections.

Here to help

Before jumping in to understand SDWAN, we need to understand what is a WAN. The acronym stands for Wide Area Network which basically means your big cloud which connects all your offices together so they can talk  to each other. If you only have two offices, for example, you can imagine it like a pipe connecting your two offices together. Usually this WAN service is paid service just like how you get your Internet services.


With SDWAN which stands for Software Defined WAN is like a smart WAN, if I could say that. It is a technology that is capable of using any Internet services (DSL, fibre, 4G, etc) to provide you similar result what WAN was offering. So you could use for example, one Internet using fibre service and the other using DSL.


However, its not only that. You can use different combination of these Internet services together to provide more resiliency to the WAN connection. By resiliency, we mean, your WAN connection will be more powerful and less prone to connection problems simply because it will not be relying on just one service.Just using the last example, if your Fibre Internet had issues, you still have connection to your other offices via the DSL Internet.


With having this option of using different services concurrently, you can also control your traffic flow how it traverses from one office to other. For eg you may want business critical traffic over fibre so it is fast and less important traffic over DSL.


Finally, the best part is, you can have the combination using existing WAN services as well. For eg, Fibre Internet and your existing WAN. Usually this is the recommended practice as most of the times a customer will typically have a dedicated WAN service already in place; he can simply add an Internet service and use SDWAN over them.


For SDWAN between all your offices, you will need to ensure all the offices have SDWAN compliant devices to support this technology.




Comes here often

A Digital Network normally software driven with open APi's instantiated on flexible and capable hardware to express business intent and align network behavior to business objectives. With the following key capability; secure, policy driven, automated, flexible and scalable.

Getting noticed



It's how you can connect all your sites to each other, securely and easily. It then allows you to easily manage and optimise traffic between your sites or even over dual lines.


Meraki makes this super, super easy. Literally just a few button clicks!

SD-WAN is a bit like when the tail wags the dog!
Building a reputation

Hi students,


I just Want to explain what is SD-WAN from Meraki.

Imagine you want to drive with a group of 20 person from Oslo to Madrid. You have 3 different typ of cars.

1 four wheel drive Car. (5 person but not as safe)

1 Limousine (8 persons very safe car)

1 Ferrari (2 Person fast but not as safe)


Now there are a lot of different roads you can take but all have different challenge.

The Highway (often  jammed)

The Road true the Mountains (Off-road but alway free of traffic)

The Small Roads true all the City's and village (the longest way)


Now, you need to bring all Person as fast as Possible and as Safe as Possible from Oslo to Madrid.


That's the moment you will use SD-WAN. It will measure the state of the road and how much traffic jam you have on all Roads, based on this it will select the best Car and how fast you will get from Oslo to Madrid. 

As you can not take all person at once, SD-WAN will calculate witch will be the best Road, Car to go back to Oslo and get the rest of the Person.


I hope you just got a felling what SD-WAN is doing when you have more that one WAN connection and you want to Secure transport as much data at a time.


If you want a deep Dive go to: 


Imagine SD-WAN like a traffic police officer standing in the middle of a busy crossroad, and network frames as road vehicles.

His primary task is to regulate traffic so that everyone gets to his work as soon as possible. The SD-WAN will forward frames to the right path according to their destination.

However he must give priority to emergency services. Likewise SD-WAN will treat delay sensitive frames like voice and video, where loss matters, with high priority and guide them to an unblocked way.

Of course the officer has with him a police radio, in order to receive instructions from the traffic control and decide better where to divert the traffic. Likewise in SD-WAN the routing decisions are controlled by the admins centrally and instructions are pushed to each individual wan router.

Getting noticed


First, let’s see what WAN is. Compared to LAN, which is Local Area Network, WAN is a world-wide interconnection of these smaller networks, hence called: Wide Area Network. LAN is more like driving a car and LAN is similar to flying by plane. Keeping the same example, flying a plane is so complex that is has to be at least partially automated: it follows a radio beacon to fly to the right direction, also a computer helps navigation and controls the plane. Furthermore, traffic is managed from centralized places: flight control towers. Similarly, SD (Software Defined) - WAN, by heavily relying on software, helps to automate routine tasks on a large scale: when a complex and versatile large set of network devices have to be configured behind a global network. This helps reduce number of errors and costs as well, and provides greater agility, especially because of the centrally managed nature. Similarly to a flight control tower it will oversee, control or limit traffic to certain areas. It is pretty much like aviation, but instead of carrying real payload, information is carried through the existing global network mediums, but with a better management which is easier to sustain and maintain.



Comes here often


These days people want to access information any time any where from any device. Mobile devices and cloud computing make it possible but it causes management complexity, application performance unpredictability, and data vulnerability.

There are two primary network :

  1. LAN : - LAN connected devices insight of office together.
  2. WAN: - WAN is connected your office to other side to around the world. Without WAN its like not having the Internet access.

SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to managing the wide-area network, or WAN Which makes IT works Smarter , Faster and Lower cost.

Let’s understand how SD-WAN works:

10s,100s or 1000s WAN routers are communicating to each other over long distances. With each  routers having Data Plane and Control plane. Data plane is holds the information  that is being sent or received Data. Control plane determines where that data should go. However someone need to program Control plane with the rule and how to handle network traffic on dataplane.

Let’s take Business case with example of large retail store chain:

A large Retail store chain with 1000 stores needs  to deploy video application across the branches. Lets assume each store having one router that need 10 commands to implement correct configuration for new Video application.  Assuming customer running 1000 branches and he wants to implement video application policy for all branches without any error.

If each command takes 6 sec to implement that means one branch required  1 min to implement new policy. It means 1* 1000= 1000 Min required to implement new policy.

If we are doing this manually then it complex, error prom and take long time. if any mistake happen with one of those command will do hunting and troubleshooting for the same that will impact IT resources. it may paralyze the businesses.

This problem can be overcome by developing programming tools and script. Here SDWAN introduced to do all automation on WAN devices. In SDWAN all control plane is centralize so its easy to manage and easy deploy new policy simultaneously. In SD-WAN we can define all business critical app on MPLS network and social media app on low priority. If any new policy implement it will automatically distributed and implemented across organization in second.

The modern workforce is increasingly mobile, and business-critical applications are running over the Internet across multiple clouds. SD-WAN Technology automatically determine the most effective way to route traffic to and from branch offices and data center sites. SD-WAN always choose best path to route traffic irrespective of transport carrier e.g. MPLS, 3G/4G LTE etc.

With the help of SD-WAN Technology Network administrators can use bandwidth more efficiently and can help ensure the highest level of performance for critical applications without sacrificing security or data privacy.

SD-WAN Key BenefitsSD-WAN Key Benefits




Here to help

Imagine a bridge over a river, on one side you have 1000 people that need to cross it to the other side.

If all of them cross it at the same time, it is possible, but it will take longer to cross due to room space and it will be a mess, giving chance for accidents.


But you have a problem: there's injured people, eldery and children amongst them, what will you do in this case?


Just create lanes on the bridge separating the injured, eldery and children so they can cross it calm and safely.


The rest of people will cross it normally through its own lane.

Just browsing

What is SD-WAN


These days people expect access to information anytime, anywhere & from any device. Cloud computing & mobile devices have helped to make this possible but, the networks that keep everything connected keep growing & are becoming more & more complicated, especially to manage.


There are two types of primary networks, a local area network (LAN for short) & a wide area network called a WAN.


A LAN network connects all the devices inside your office together while the WANs connect your office to other offices & remote sites that could be anywhere in the world. A new technology is being adopted by many companies currently called SD-WAN which is the next generation of WANs.


The SD in SD-WAN stands for Software Defined which uses software to make the configuration of WANs work smarter, Faster & at a lower cost. Essentially, SD-WAN is a better way to build & manage long distance networks.


Why? How does it work?


A traditional WAN is made of tens, hundreds or even thousands of routers that talk to each other over long distances.


Within each router there is a data plane & a control plane. The data plane contains the data being sent or received while the control plane controls where that data should go.


The control plane of each router needs to be programed by someone with a set of rules that govern how to handle the traffic from the data plane. This is usually done by entering a set of commands into a command line interface known as a CLI by a network administrator which can be a manual, time consuming & an error prone process.


Take a large retail store chain with 500+ branches around the world that needs to deploy a new application. Each location may have a router on site that needs 10 commands entered for the correct handling of the video application. Thats 10 commands x 500 sites which is 5000 commands. If each command takes 30 seconds to configure, that adds up to over 41 hours, not to mention the planning time for each site.


This is a very cumbersome & error prone process, imagine making a mistake in one of those commands & having to hunt down root cause of the error or troubleshoot the application. Personnel & IT resources would be severely impacted. 


With SD-WAN this whole process is greatly simplified. For starters, parts of the control plane are centralised, that way changes to the control plane can be grouped, simultaneously & easily managed across the entire WAN using business defined rules & most importantly from a central management tool.


This added simplicity makes it easy to take advantage of broadband internet connections instead of relying on expensive private circuits. Business critical applications can be given a secure & higher priority link between locations that is controlled & defined within the central management tool while other applications that might be taking productivity away from employees like social media can be given a lower priority or even blocked altogether with a rule again deployed from the central management tool to all sites in seconds.


Key SD-WAN Advantages


  1. Increases agility by simplifying network policy configuration & deployment times
  2. Provides higher performance by intelligently leveraging multiple paths including broadband connections
  3. Together these lower IT operational costs


Kind of a big deal

You can compare SD-WAN to Waze (the popular GPS software) but for IP packets. You want to send the IP packets (the cars of the internet) the optimal way. Multiple factors determine that optimal way.

  • You should continuously keep an eye on how busy the roads (your uplinks) are and update your decisions based on those findings.
  • You should also make sure that packets take the optimal route for their "specific" application. Just like Waze gives regular cars the optimal route for cars, and trucks the optimal route for trucks, SD-WAN can send voice traffic which has very particular needs a predefined way...
  • If you have an expensive line you want to leverage this line, a bit like setting up toll passes in Waze to leverage toll roads you have access to.
  • If an uplink breaks down you navigate around it, just like Waze does during road works and accidents.

Where all this used to be impossible/hard/require extensive provider involvement (read: expensive lines) SD-WAN solutions allow to leverage cheaper internet lines and use them as optimally as possible. All the while keeping configuration and day to day management easy and intuitive.

New here

SD-WAN can be described in simple terms as having 10 cars driving on a highway, each different color, but only Red, and Blue cars have the highest priority to go first ahead of other cars. The rest have to wait until road is clear for them to pass.


Similar to Ambulance and Police having highest priority on the roads.


Think in your traffic and navigation app that analyzes real-time traffic and road info, giving you a opportunity to save time and gas money.
This is SD-WAN. The Meraki´s technology determines which is the better link to your information and use this to improve security, economy and fastest delivery.

Here to help

SD-WAN is like smartphone GPS for your network. Old networks still pass traffic like travelers in the Wild West, going from town to town (hops), asking for directions to their destination. Maps made it easier to find a place or route that you or someone else had already been to, but reading a map and figuring out the path at 80 MPH slows you down. SD-WAN takes all the great capabilities of your automated GPS, like warning you if the path you're are on will slow you down due to traffic, re-route you around an accident, or allow you to set preferences like avoiding tolls; and puts them into your network so you traffic becomes smarter and avoids latency, paths that are overloaded or broken, or preferences like sending kitten videos over a cheap circuit. This allows you to make your network smarter, more efficient, and able to correct issues before they potentially become larger problems.

Comes here often

SD-WAN is like when you're taking the school bus to school in the morning, the bus is equipped with Waze where it will always try to get you to school the quickest, most efficient way.  For example, Monday it can take Washington St like it does usually.  But on Wednesday due to some unforeseen heavy traffic, bus took Main St instead.  It got to school slightly slower than usual but quicker than it would if it took congested Washington St.

Also since it's your school bus trying to get you to school, it'll always try to get you there safely.

There's SD-WAN in a nutshell, network connectivity in a secure, efficient, automated fashion.

It's basically fancy WAZE for network connectivity.. However, instead of just the route to your destination possibly changing, the vehicle you use to reach your destination may change. Additionally, we can write rules for Dave, so that he always has to take the stinky Yugo anywhere he goes... because no one likes Dave. But we all like Karl and our business really needs Karl, so we will write a rule to always give Karl the best vehicle we have. And, if anything ever happens and Karl's vehicle isn't available, he immediately gets to share Dave's stinky Yugo. For better or worse... And, also like Waze, SD-WAN can make life a bit more efficient and, at times, easier.
Here to help


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


The SD-WAN solution is like our cardiovascular system, of course working in a simpler way.



We consider that the Human Body is the company, the Heart is the Headquarter , the system of veins and arteries is the internet links, the organs are the branches and the brain is the cloudMan LOL


The image below represents well:



The company - The Human BodyThe company - The Human Body

 Now the explanation of each of them:


The Heart = The Headquarter


The headquarterThe headquarter

The Heart is the main part of the system that pumps blood through the veins and arteries, it is the Headquarter of a company, there are all the important parts of the company and it needs to have communication with all the other parts of the human body / company.


The Blood = Data for transportation


The Blood that is the material to be transported with all the necessary content for the vital functioning of all parts of the body, is the data transported between Headquarter / Branch and Cloud.


The Veins and Arteries = Internet Links and MPLS

blood in the vein / artery - the data passing through the linkblood in the vein / artery - the data passing through the link


The veins and arteries that have the role of carrying the blood to the various parts of the body are the internet links that carry and bring the information necessary for the operation of the whole company without this communication the company / human body does not survive.



The organs = The branchesThe organs - the branchesThe organs - the branches




The organs, which have important functions in the human body, each in its particular function, but which all work together with the heart are the company branches.


The Brain = The Cloud


The brain - the cloudThe brain - the cloud

The Brain that has all the control and orchestration of the whole organism and the control of the human body is the Cloud, where it has several applications and a series of information essential for the operation of the company, in it is also the management system of Meraki one can not be without communication with the brain (although Meraki works without this communication)



How its work?

The heart without communication with the organsThe heart without communication with the organs


On the whole system: the Heart (Headquarter) must have communication at all times with the Brain (Cloud) and with the organs (branches), correct? one depends on the other in this system. Imagine if we had just a vein / arteries being used to carry blood between these points and it failed? What would happen? Some of the organs would begin to fail, and consequently would lead to a breakdown in the entire organism that could lead to death. The same thing would happen to the company without a subsidiary, we need a way for this system cannot fail.



The SD-WAN System - The redundancies


The redundant wayThe redundant way  

Now, our "SD-WAN" that solves this problem, it guarantees that the heart and the organs receive the blood with the redundancy of the veins / arteries (internet links) and maintain the communication with the Cloud, and in case some path fails , all the blood is directed to the other. In addition we have a third redundancy and the option to choose the shortest route to reach the destination, being chosen intelligently by our system. This is how the Meraki SD-WAN works.



And remember to buy meraki for your company not to die Smiley Very Happy



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


Just browsing

SD-WAN stands for Software-Defined Wide Area Network.  Traditionally, networks were defined by the hardware devices and the circuits connecting them.  SD-WANs are defined by software that is downloaded into devices that control the movement of data packets.   One hardware network can support multiple esparate software-defined networks.  This is similar to a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) where one  Ethernet switch supports two separate Ethernet LANs.  Because of the high cost of wide area circuits, the benefits from SD-WANs are even greater than for VLANs because wide area connections can be share and made over low-cost public Internet circuits saving a lot of money and providing greater capacity than leased point-to-point circuits.

Head in the Cloud

SD-WAN is simply a term to describe dynamic and configurable network access via multiple WAN (internet) links.


A common example would be to have two different internet service providers connected to a Meraki MX appliance and configure the MX to send voice traffic on the link with the lowest latency, jitter and packet loss.  You will be able to monitor the links in the dashboard and see when the MX has made decisions dynamically to route voice traffic over either link.  The links may also be site-to-site VPN links to other branches or locations.  Many organizations are choosing to move away from expensive dedicated WAN links to SD-WAN since the performance can be similar and the price less.



Here is simple diagram depicting two MX appliances each with two internet connections and site to site VPN:


Screen Shot 2018-12-05 at 11.38.48 AM.png