SD-WAN and Load Balancing: What’s the Difference?

SD-WAN can use load balancing for WAN connections, but it does not require load balancing to work. Compare a few similarities and differences.

Load balancing

Load balancing distributes traffic across multiple paths, allowing for greater efficiency and reduced program delays, especially in high traffic situations. Companies can perform load balancing on a bottom layer such as a network interface layer or as high as a data center or cloud.

Because there are several paths to balance the load, there is a degree of displacement; if one path becomes inaccessible, the other continues. No consideration of two active / standby connections, one active and the other failure, as load balancing, since flow is not shared through both connections.

In most cases, companies load balance in the data center. Load balancing does not require a WAN, although it can be done with WAN connections. However, because it is very difficult to set up and manage WAN connections, most companies only have one WAN connection per branch, so it is impossible to load the balance.


SD-WAN facilitates deployment and management of WAN connections by allowing multiple headquarters and branch links to be added. SD-WAN can allow load balancing across multiple links, which balances traffic across all links and even provides resiliency in a single link failure.

The SD-WAN also does not require load balancing as both locations can be connected by a single connector. However, when combined with load balancing, SD-WAN becomes a powerful feature that gives units better connectivity to the applications and data they need to perform local operations. Often, SD-WAN will use different transport such as MPLS, Ethernet and 4G LTE. In such cases, the flow can be balanced even during asymmetric transport because it recognizes the difference between each flow and throughput.