What is SD-Branch? How it Streamlines Networking & Reduces Costs

What is SD-Branch? How it Streamlines Networking & Reduces Costs
  • April 29, 2024

The popularity of legacy WAN systems is waning for a number of reasons. Businesses are sending more and more traffic over connections, causing bandwidth issues. In addition, the amount of data transferred over WAN requires a large, expensive pipeline. WAN can be costly to begin with because it requires robust equipment at each remote location. Networking personnel must physically be onsite for complex, time-consuming, hands-on installation and maintenance. As technology advances, WAN legacy systems are becoming outdated, and add-ons aren’t always as successful as we wish they were. 

All this is particularly challenging in an era when many companies have a growing need for superfast deployment as they “turn and burn” multiple office, buildings, or locations to meet ever-changing needs of the marketplace.

Introducing SD-Branch

Enter software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), a cloud-based technology that has been a boon for businesses with multiple sites or locations. This impressive technology was revolutionary at its advent because it meant businesses could scale relatively efficiently, achieve impressive network speed and flexibility, and minimize the need for complex physical infrastructures required by traditional WAN connections. SD-WAN has an agile and flexible open-architecture infrastructure with better performance than WAN because it uses less data inherently, allows zero-touch provisioning, and provides zero trust security. However, until recently the technology lacked streamlined interfaces and automation. 

SD-Branch, the next generation of SD-WAN, fills those gaps, allowing networks to be managed from a single pane of glass on a single cloud platform. The technology offers a new level of programmability for automation, which is particularly appealing to multi-site operations.  

What is SD-Branch?

Our partner's at HPE Aruba Networking Define SD-Branch perfectly:

SD-Branch is a solution that delivers a simple way to centrally automate the deployment, management, and operation of your wired, wireless, WAN, and security infrastructure under a single, software-defined framework for policy and segmentation to meet today’s IT, users, IoT devices, and business needs.

More than SD-WAN, SD-Branch addresses the entire remote branch experience from the edge to the cloud to the core, with strong security and software-defined performance benefits.

Anthony Nabower of Prime Secured works closely with HPE Aruba Networking, an SD-branch pioneer. “HPE’s unique product makes it possible to manage the entire branch network from APs, switches and SD-WAN gateways in one platform.” SD-Branch easily prioritizes and streamlines processes automatically to wrangle the ever-increasing flood of IoT devices in the edge-to-cloud environment.

This blog reviews the most important features and benefits of SD-Branch as an iteration of SD-WAN and suggests next steps to implement it in existing multi-site organizations. 

SD-WAN vs SD-Branch

SD-WAN vs SD Branch

Photo Credit: TechTarget

Everyone loves tech progress, but it almost always presents problems of rising costs, increasingly complicated deployment and maintenance, and added pressure on IT departments – not to mention exposing multisite businesses to whole new sets of security risks.  

SD-WAN was created to be a cost-effective, flexible-architecture solution to help enterprises manage this inevitable scaling up of cloud services and devices. It provides improved high-quality network connectivity and security – and easily scales to meet today’s fast-paced expansion of distributed, multisite enterprises such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, campuses and healthcare systems. SD-Branch takes SD-WAN technology to the next level, adding features and functions that improve speed and functionality while reducing complexity and costs. 


  • Focus: Primarily targets the connections between different sites within an organization, such as headquarters, branch offices, and data centers, across a wide area network.
  • Purpose: Optimizes network traffic routing between these sites, often over the internet or via dedicated lines, to enhance performance, increase reliability, and reduce costs.
  • Technology: Uses software-defined networking (SDN) principles to manage traffic and apply policies centrally, automating the path selection and traffic steering based on real-time network conditions.
  • Benefits: Includes better bandwidth utilization, improved application performance, increased agility, and simplified management of multiple connection types (MPLS, broadband, cellular).


  • Focus: Extends the principles of SD-WAN to an entire branch's network, encompassing not only WAN optimization but also other local network functions such as routing, switching, security, and Wi-Fi.
  • Purpose: Aims to streamline the network infrastructure and management of branch offices by consolidating various network functions into a unified platform, managed centrally.
  • Technology: Often integrates various services like firewalls, Wi-Fi controllers, and LAN management within a single appliance or software platform, making it easier to deploy and manage remote sites.
  • Benefits: Simplifies branch office network architecture, reduces hardware dependency by virtualizing functions, and offers easier scalability and security enforcement across the network.

SD-Branch Benefits Explained

Centralized management

Because SD-Branch runs on a single platform, it’s now possible for IT personnel to manage all assets (switches, wireless access points, gateways) from one centralized dashboard. The SD-Branch solution from HPE Aruba Networking, for example, nearly completely removes the necessity of dealing with varied systems in branch locations. Standardizing and streamlining maintenance functions to a single management portal results in substantial time and money savings.  

Remote installation and maintenance.

Zero touch provisioning and mobile tools allow IT personnel to install and service branch technology faster and with fewer truck rolls. Identical objectives can be achieved for every far-flung location with fewer personnel at both the home office and the remote location through easy configuration and cloud services. Specialists aren’t needed nearly as often as they were with older network configurations. With SD-Branch, Prime has seen the work of 10 people being done by two, which also reduces instances of error and buck-passing when things do go wrong. A partner like Prime can provide subscription-based remote managed services contracts to lighten the burden of in-house IT professionals and allow them to focus on more important tasks. Centralized Management

Reduced costs and ROI. 

Distributed enterprises using multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) or ethernet connections at every one of its sites are paying as much as $500 per site per month to keep things running. These connections are expensive, especially if they are spread apart by great distances, because they send all traffic through HQ/datacenter, even traffic destined for the Internet. SD-Branch adds an inexpensive internet circuit, so traffic leaves the remote site and doesn’t go back through HQ. This in turn allows a reduction in the WAN link, which is used only to access information residing in the home office datacenter. An architectural firm that sends data-heavy blueprints, for example, could shrink the connection used for this activity to achieve significant savings. Other SD-Branch benefits listed in this article offer additional cost savings. Nabower said Prime has seen clients reduce networking costs by as much as 50% with a switch to SD-Branch. “If you can save 50% on network connections, it can either provide a needed budget reduction or release funds for other important functions and expansions.”  


Simplicity, efficiency and accuracy. 

The simplicity of SD-Branch technology and its automated services improves on SD-WAN. When all parts of the network are accessible from a single screen, it means non-technical personnel can quickly and easily learn to use and maintain the cloud services. In addition to providing cost savings, the reduction in complexity makes it possible to quickly identify and resolve any problems. The technology more easily incorporates add-ons than was possible with legacy networks. AI features, such as barcode scanning can streamline IT operations, further reducing the demand for expertise and labor while improving efficiency and accuracy. In addition, SD-Branch makes it possible to easily address networking needs from the edge and build back to the core of the network. This stops problems at the edge and makes it easier to deploy and manage devices. 

SD-Branch Design

Photo Credit: HPE Aruba Networking

Prioritization. At the heart of SD-Branch efficiency is the system’s ability to automatically prioritize traffic to different links for functions such as voice, video, Office 365 and more. Prioritization is based on sorting business-critical data from non-essential traffic such as customer use of the network. This results in faster, more secure connections for all traffic. Retail stores, for example, don’t want customers’ smartphone use of the WAN connection to cannibalize the POS transaction data stream. SD-Branch can identify this type of network activity and route it to the most efficient link. 

Flexibility. Because the SD-Branch network is simplified and built on open architecture, it is easy to add analytics, guest login capability and other third-party pieces to enrich the enterprise’s network services. In the past, clunky legacy add-ons have been a source of pain and frustration for IT managers. SD-Branch is built to take add-ons smoothly without adding network complexity. 

Your Next Steps for SD-Branch Deployment

To find a reliable, quality SD-Branch provider and integrator, begin by asking these questions: 

  • What certifications do your engineers have? How much of their time is allocated to product study and ongoing education? 
  • Do you specialize in the products you provide, or do you spread your expertise across multiple SD-Branch product lines? 
  • How many full deployments of SD-Branch have you completed across how many multiple locations for one client? 
  • Who have you done business with? Do any of your clients have a similar setup to ours? 
  • Can you provide a realistic cost analysis based on actual case studies? 

Because SD-Branch is relatively new technology, it’s important to carefully vet programs and products. Choose integrators and providers that can prove SD-Branch agility and capability through certifications, verified case studies, and positive reviews from real clients.  

“A core value at Prime,” said Nabower, “is our commitment to thoroughly studying every technology we support for our clients. We allocate many hours to education to fulfill our belief that we must do everything in our power to master the tools we provide.”  

Prime Secured engineers are required to become officially and thoroughly certified in the products they manage. The company often chooses top products and then focuses solely on them to provide true expertise to benefit clients, rather than watering down expertise with an attempt to know all systems. 

Do you believe SD-Branch could be a smart cost-saving, simplicity-generating move for your multi-site enterprise? Let Prime analyze your operation and provide a fact-based proposal to help you decide. Call our sales line at 402-401-6120 and ask about a demonstration specifically designed to fit your situation. 

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