In a previous article, I mentioned my opinion that just as the “cloud” has become a vague catch-all term for any sort of easily accessible internet service, so too has the hybrid wan. In that article, I suggested substituting the term “SD-WAN,” since using both terms spreads confusion. However, I soon received an email from Scott Pickett, suggesting that the term SD-WAN had followed suit into a lexical morass.

In his email, Scott Pickett wrote that the term “SD-WAN” has been picked up as a marketing gimmick for a wide variety of worthy, but unrelated technologies. Not only has “hybrid WAN” been included in this bog, but all manner of orchestration, virtualization, automation, and other logical overlays have been marketed under the “SD-WAN” label.

Scott PickettIn Scott’s opinion, including all of these fundamentally different technologies under the same label has completely destroyed the usefulness of the term.

But is that so? In my opinion any term we might deign to use will probably suffer the same fate. Further, there is major benefit in packaging all of these diverse means into one tidy and easily considered common denominator.

CFOs (and most executives of any stripe) rarely get to their positions of authority by being experts in the fields they work in. With skeptical views of ‘magic’ solutions, the term “SD-WAN” provides a useful rhetorical tool to explain this radically new approach to recalcitrant executives. 

Generally, network problems could be considered in terms of upgrades to physical infrastructure. However, newer computing hardware has provided enough power that even generic, off-the-shelf, equipment can be used both to deal with the routing information (reducing load on physical infrastructure), and to ensure security with a degree of flexibility (always the x86 processors’ strong point) unavailable to dedicated hardware.

To answer questioning CFOs: Software is the solution. The faster the processors, the less elegant our code has to be to solve the problem in real time; and sometimes the only real solutions are complicated. Wouldn’t you rather put all of that mess of changing data on a piece of (large but) easily changed software, rather than some router in Timbuktu?

At the end of his email, Scott concluded:

Thank you for your voice to the conversation.

Best regards,

Scott Pickett

No, thank you, Scott, for your insight.