Skip to content

What differentiates SD-WAN from SDN, NFV, and VNF?

It seems that every day there is a new collection of software acronyms that it is necessary to know. In addition, some of these acronyms include additions, such as SD-WAN – and often acronyms merge with other acronyms, such as SD-WAN-NFV.

How can you master all these terms? Keep reading to get an overview of SD-WAN, an explanation of what differentiates it from SDN, and a look at how NFV and VNF work together with SD-WAN.

What is an SD-WAN?

From the definition of the acronym SD-WAN. The term "SD" stands for "software defined" and "WAN" stands for "WAN". For example, an SD-WAN application refers to an application that links specific software applications to a wide area network, such as branch offices and data centers. An SD-WAN connection network is particularly useful for transferring proprietary software into a cloud, which can then be used by a satellite or branch office.

SD-WAN's cloud-sharing capability has naturally aroused much interest in the professional and personal world for its national and international reach.

The difference between SD-WAN and SDN

SD-WAN and SDN are similar in that they share the software design characters, "SD". Both have also been designed for quick update, which means that all changes are easily accessible in the cloud for everyone.

The difference, of course, lies in the details. As mentioned, SD-WAN is mainly used to connect networks that are not geographically close. SDN, on the other hand, is connected to a LAN, Local Area Network. Local networks are designed for local internal connections, for example in an office or at different levels of the same building.

See also  Here is an e-commerce business you should try this year

In addition, the SDN network is easily programmable and modifiable by network users. On the other hand, SD-WAN users rely on their provider to prepare the network and make changes.


NFV stands for "Network Functions Virtualization". NFVs are an agreed architecture that streamlines information sharing, facilitates operations, and simplifies compatibility and deployment as well as maintenance procedures. This is why so many people are using an NFV with their SD-WAN network: Rather than providing too much information to users, the NFV only presents the essential components.


The acronym for VNF is quite similar and works in conjunction with an NFV. VNF stands for "virtual network function". While NFVs make up the SD-WAN network architecture, a VNF is what connects and protects the NFV-SD-WAN connection. Common types of VNFs are routers and firewalls.

It seems that technology based on the acronym changes every day, and you can surely predict that there will be more vocabulary to learn in the future. However, until the next big data connection is deployed, the information detailed above should help you decipher the information you need now.