April 17, 2024

Network Scalability vs Network Performance in SDWAN

9 min read
Discover the key differences between network scalability and network performance in SDWAN with our comprehensive guide.
A network with multiple nodes connected by a web of lines

A network with multiple nodes connected by a web of lines

Software-defined wide area networks (SDWANs) have become an increasingly popular choice for organizations as an efficient and cost-effective solution for managing their wide area networks (WANs). One of the biggest considerations that must be taken into account when selecting an SDWAN solution is the balance between network scalability and network performance. While both factors are crucial for the success of a WAN, they can often be at odds with each other, leading to difficult trade-offs and challenges for network administrators. In this article, we’ll examine the relationship between network scalability and network performance, what each entails, and how they can be balanced for maximum effectiveness in SDWAN deployments.

Understanding Scalability and Performance in SDWAN Networks

Scalability refers to the ability of a network to accommodate an increasing number of users, sites, and applications while maintaining optimal performance levels. In an SDWAN, scalability is determined by a number of factors, including bandwidth, processing power, and hardware. Network performance, on the other hand, is a measure of how well the network performs in terms of traffic flow, latency, and packet loss. Performance is influenced by network topology, protocols, and network devices used in the deployment, among other factors.

One of the key benefits of SDWAN networks is their ability to provide dynamic path selection, which allows for automatic rerouting of traffic in case of network congestion or failure. This feature enhances network performance and ensures that critical applications are not affected by network issues. Additionally, SDWAN networks can leverage cloud-based services to optimize network performance and reduce latency, which is particularly important for real-time applications such as video conferencing and VoIP.

Another important aspect of SDWAN scalability is the ability to support different types of connections, including broadband, LTE, and MPLS. This flexibility allows organizations to choose the most cost-effective and reliable connectivity options for their specific needs. Furthermore, SDWAN networks can be easily scaled up or down depending on the changing needs of the organization, without requiring significant hardware upgrades or changes to the network architecture.

The Importance of Scalability and Performance for SDWAN Networks

Scalability and performance are two critical factors that are directly related to the success of any SDWAN deployment. As remote workforces continue to grow and more applications move to the cloud, WAN requirements have increased considerably. To accommodate this growth, an SDWAN solution must be able to scale up and down as needed while maintaining optimal performance levels. This kind of agility requires careful planning and design considerations for SDWAN networks.

One of the key design considerations for SDWAN networks is the selection of appropriate hardware and software components. The hardware must be capable of handling the increased traffic and bandwidth demands, while the software must be able to efficiently manage and prioritize network traffic. Additionally, network administrators must ensure that the SDWAN solution is properly configured and optimized for the specific needs of their organization. This includes setting up quality of service (QoS) policies, traffic shaping rules, and other network policies to ensure that critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and resources.

How Scalability and Performance Affect SDWAN Network Architecture

Scalability and performance are closely tied to the architecture of an SDWAN network. While different SDWAN solutions may have different architectural designs, certain principles apply to ensure that both scalability and performance are optimized. One important consideration is the use of hardware vs software accelerators to handle packet processing. Another important factor is the use of geographical redundancy to ensure that network traffic always has multiple paths to take in case of a failure.

Another important aspect to consider when designing an SDWAN network architecture is the use of Quality of Service (QoS) policies. QoS policies prioritize network traffic based on its importance, ensuring that critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources. This can greatly improve the overall performance and user experience of the network.

Additionally, the use of cloud-based SDWAN solutions can greatly enhance scalability and performance. Cloud-based solutions allow for easy deployment and management of SDWAN networks, as well as providing access to a wide range of cloud-based services and applications. This can greatly reduce the complexity and cost of managing an SDWAN network, while also improving its overall performance and scalability.

Balancing Network Scalability and Performance in SDWAN Systems

SDWAN administrators must strike a balance between network scalability and performance requirements when deploying SDWAN solutions. This requires thorough planning and close collaboration between the technical teams responsible for the WAN and the business unit teams that will be using the WAN. Some of the factors that must be taken into account when balancing scalability and performance include network availability, bandwidth, latency, packet loss, and routing protocols.

Another important factor to consider when balancing network scalability and performance in SDWAN systems is security. As SDWAN solutions often involve the use of public internet connections, it is crucial to ensure that the network is secure and protected from cyber threats. This can be achieved through the implementation of strong encryption protocols, firewalls, and other security measures. Additionally, regular security audits and updates should be conducted to ensure that the network remains secure and protected.

Top Challenges in Scaling and Optimizing SDWAN Network Performance

One of the biggest challenges in scaling and optimizing SDWAN network performance is ensuring that the network can handle high traffic loads without allowing congestion to develop. With more users and applications accessing the network, administrators must be able to quickly identify and resolve bottlenecks. Other challenges in optimizing SDWAN network performance include ensuring optimal routing, traffic prioritization and security.

Another challenge in scaling and optimizing SDWAN network performance is maintaining network visibility and control. As the network grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and manage all the devices and applications connected to it. This can lead to security vulnerabilities and performance issues. To address this challenge, administrators must implement tools and processes that provide real-time visibility into network traffic and usage, as well as the ability to quickly identify and address any issues that arise.

Improving SDWAN Network Performance through Scalability Strategies

The scalability of an SDWAN system can be improved through several strategies. One of the most effective is to ensure that the network design is flexible enough to accommodate future growth. This includes planning for high availability, scalability, and architectural redundancy. Another important strategy is the use of cloud capabilities to reduce the load on the WAN. Cloud-based applications can free up the bandwidth of the WAN, reducing congestion and improving overall performance.

Another strategy to improve SDWAN network performance is to implement Quality of Service (QoS) policies. QoS policies prioritize network traffic based on its importance, ensuring that critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and reducing the impact of less important traffic on overall performance. Additionally, implementing network analytics and monitoring tools can help identify and address performance issues in real-time, allowing for quick resolution and minimizing the impact on end-users.

It is also important to consider the security implications of SDWAN scalability strategies. As the network grows, so does the potential attack surface. Implementing robust security measures, such as encryption, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems, can help protect against cyber threats and ensure the integrity of the network. Regular security audits and updates are also essential to maintain the security of the SDWAN system.

Best Practices for Enhancing Network Scalability and Performance in SDWAN Solutions

Implementing best practices is crucial to enhancing network scalability and performance. Among the best practices are designing for redundancy and failover, implementing Quality of Service (QoS) policies, and keeping network security in mind. Furthermore, regular performance and traffic analytics are key to optimizing network performance. These statistics can be tracked using management platforms or in conjunction with dedicated network monitoring tools.

Another important best practice for enhancing network scalability and performance in SDWAN solutions is to prioritize traffic based on business needs. This involves identifying critical applications and ensuring they receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources. Additionally, it is important to regularly review and update network policies to ensure they align with changing business requirements and network conditions. By implementing these best practices, organizations can ensure their SDWAN solutions are optimized for performance, scalability, and security.

Factors that Influence Network Scalability and Performance in SDWAN Deployments

Several factors influence network scalability and performance in SDWAN deployments. The main ones being network architecture, link throughput, bandwidth, traffic prioritization, security and organization structure. Proper design of SD-WAN networks, including the selection of appropriate hardware and software applications, can help organizations mitigate these factors and improve their overall network performance and scalability.

One important factor that can impact network scalability and performance in SDWAN deployments is the location of the network nodes. The distance between nodes can affect the latency and throughput of the network, which can impact the overall performance. Organizations should consider the location of their nodes and ensure that they are strategically placed to optimize network performance.

Another factor that can influence network scalability and performance is the type of applications being used on the network. Some applications may require more bandwidth or have higher latency requirements than others, which can impact the overall performance of the network. Organizations should consider the types of applications they are using and ensure that their network is designed to support them effectively.

Measuring the Impact of Scalability and Performance on SDWAN ROI

ROI is an important consideration when deploying any WAN solution. In the case of SDWANs, network scalability and performance can have a significant impact on ROI. A network that is highly scalable and performs well can help organizations realize a higher ROI by reducing downtime, increasing productivity, and improving overall business outcomes. On the other hand, a poorly performing or inadequately scalable SDWAN can lead to increased costs, loss of productivity, and lower ROI.

One way to measure the impact of scalability and performance on SDWAN ROI is to conduct regular network assessments. These assessments can help identify areas where the network may be underperforming or where additional scalability is needed. By addressing these issues, organizations can improve network performance and scalability, which can lead to a higher ROI.

Another factor to consider when measuring the impact of scalability and performance on SDWAN ROI is the level of support provided by the SDWAN vendor. A vendor that offers comprehensive support, including proactive monitoring and troubleshooting, can help organizations quickly address any issues that may arise. This can minimize downtime and ensure that the network is performing at its best, which can ultimately lead to a higher ROI.

Key Considerations for Choosing an SDWAN Solution based on Scalability and Performance requirements

When choosing an SDWAN solution, scalability and performance requirements should be the primary considerations. Some of the key factors to consider when gauging these requirements include the size and complexity of your network, the types of applications you are running, and how your employees access these applications. Understanding your users and traffic trends helps in laying out the foundation of your SDWAN deployment plan.

Analyzing the Relationship between Network Scalability, Performance, Security, and Reliability in SDWAN Systems

Network scalability, performance, security, and reliability are all related and form a foundation of a robust SDWAN solution. Scalability, performance, and security are essential to ensure that a WAN is available and that it supports business initiatives. Reliability is equally important as it indicates that the WAN is secure and available, and performs as expected. In short, a deployment that adheres to optimal security practices, is designed for scalability, and offers outstanding performance and reliability is critical for organizations that want to operate optimally.


SDWAN networks are critical for organizations that want to streamline their remote workforces, simplify network management, lower costs, and enhance their overall business outcomes. Scalability and performance are two major concerns that affect the success of SDWAN networks. Therefore, it is crucial to balance these two concerns when deploying an SDWAN network. This article has examined various strategies for achieving optimal scalability and performance in SDWAN networks, with crucial points that should be kept in mind by network administrators when selecting SDWAN solutions and when planning their respective SDWAN network architectures.

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