Choosing the optimal SD-WAN Solution is not at all a breeze and it is a process that many business owners and enterprises find daunting, to say the least. If we take a look at recent statistics, the image becomes clearer. One year ago, only about 1% of businesses chose software-defined networking as their preferred WAN solution. However, the expectation is that, because of all of the benefits that SD-WAN carries, such as cost reduction and improvements in performance, this number will skyrocket to more than 30% by 2019.
If you do feel intimidated or reluctant to give SD-WAN a try and reap the multitude of benefits it offers, a lack of understanding might be the reason. Therefore, just becoming informed about the various different approaches to incorporation of SD-WAN into your network system will be a huge step forward.
However, before we set off to explore these different possibilities of choosing the correct SD-WAN solution for your branch, let's quickly go over why it should be done in the first place.
- It gives us the ability to incorporate various means of connectivity, including broadband.
- It enables dynamic path selection.
- Provisioned with zero-touch.
- It simplifies management by centralizing it.
- Enterprises end up with huge cost reductions
Now, in addition to selecting SD-WAN for your preferred network solution, you need to think in even more specific terms. The 'problem' that should be targeted in the process is how to improve the existing WAN, and not disrupt its functioning during the transition. In order to create a complete solution, we should address the following aspects.
Automated management and the means of its incorporation and utilization should be number one concern. Enterprises should inquire with their vendors about different solutions, as different approaches will have different results. Get information from the provider about the exact method of cost and maintenance reduction after deployment. These should revolve around policy changes, installing new applications, as well as monitoring of security.
Moreover, even if SD-WAN's main purpose is to simplify WAN connectivity, if not done properly, it can initially do the opposite. We need to consider the resources and staff that will be needed to refurbish the existing WAN solution. In addition to that, new technologies often require the staff to acquire new skills, so learn about the implications of this as well.
Route Control is the second aspect that should be taken into consideration. Namely, without having a quality route control, all the applications critical for a business might not get the load balancing, bandwidth and priority they need. In the ideal situation, all available WAN circuits should be deployed to get the most out of the current WAN setup. If the load is not balanced across all WAN circuits, the performance might be low.
This is solved through QoS (Quality of Service) policies. As part of an SD-WAN solution, it will make sure that the most important applications will go through the most efficient paths. Moreover, in case of a network outage, applications of paramount importance will continue operating without the loss of service.
Hybrid deployments should be supported by an ideal SD-WAN solution. This way, both private and public connections can be utilized, including MPLS, 4G, as well as the internet. Each of these offers different possibilities related to security, prices, bandwidth, and SLA classes of service.
Integrated visibility of the performance of applications is also very important. Users should have insight into both SaaS applications, as well as the in-house apps. Therefore, you should inquire as to what level of visibility the SD-WAN solution you are considering will offer you. Features such as content prepositioning, object caching, compression, and TCP windowing will be important. These will ensure that you can oversee load balancing in a more wholesome way, which is of the biggest importance when switching to a Software Defined WAN.
Last but not least, Security comes high on the list like any other beforementioned aspect. Do not take it for granted and just assume that your data is protected, be it through MPLS VPNs, the Internet or 4G services. The SD-WAN solution that you ultimately choose should make clear what kinds of encryption are included and how well the system is protected against outside attacks.Moreover, your SD-WAN solution should offer a firewall and an IPS (intrusion prevention system), as well as malware protection for users who connect to the Internet directly from the branch. The most fail-proof method when making the choice is to go for those solutions that have been tested by government bodies and have security certifications in place.
From this perspective, the list might seem complex and daunting, but it pays off to put extra effort into making the correct choice. By doing it right, you ensure to reap all the benefits of SD-WAN, such as ease of maintenance, cost reduction, and improved security. If you have any doubts about the process, contact us and we'll help you out.