SD-WAN migration best practice

SD-WAN Migration Approach

Should you move to SD-WAN from your traditional network? The answer to this question is, without doubt, yes. In our previous articles, we have already covered topics such as SD-WAN basics, as well as why SD-WAN is a good alternative to MPLS. If it is undoubtedly good to do it, the question remains – what is the best way to do it?

In this article, we will set out to address this question and provide you with the best practices for SD-WAN migration. If not done well, the transition can be painful. For that reason, it is important to plan and execute the whole migration process properly, in order to benefit from the SD-WAN advantages, such as cost reduction, better performance, and increased security.

So, let’s see what the best migration practices to follow are.

Step #1: Decide If You Want to Go Hybrid or Not

The main reason that most enterprises wish to incorporate SD-WAN into their networks is the flexibility that it offers. Therefore, its big benefit that you should consider taking advantage of is being able to efficiently utilize both public and private network services. This will bring you reduced WAN costs, simplified management of traffic and devices, better security, and improved visibility.

Moreover, a Hybrid SD-WAN will allow traffic to flow seamlessly between different links without loss in quality. If one line experiences jitter, latency, or packet loss, another line can take over and meet the agreed SLA.

Step #2: Do It at Once or in Phases?

Again, like with the previous step, there are two steps that you can take. Of course, during the migration process and the implementation of SD-WAN, you do not have to stop all of your company’s operations. The whole process can be done painlessly and without much of an impact on the business if it is done in a roll-out fashion.

The first move to make is to prioritize your remote sites and figure out how crucial they are for your whole operation. Once that is done, you can start migrating with the sites that are less crucial in order to test the whole process first. By doing it this way, your provider and your technicians can solve any problems if they appear and be better prepared once they set out to incorporate more crucial sites into the system.

Once your less crucial sites are up and running on SD-WAN, you can move important tasks to these sites, while your primary locations are going through migration. This way, your operation does not have to cease at any point.

Step #3: Replace or Interoperate?

Leased MPLS lines are quite expensive. Some sites are more crucial than others, so you maybe have 2 MPLS lines to prevent jitter and packet loss. When transitioning to SD-WAN, if there is a remote site that is not so high on your criticality list, you should consider replacing those MPLS lines with cheaper options.

Going for an SD-WAN based solution and a couple of cheap broadband links will give you an equal amount of security but will decrease cost by a large margin. However, another thing to consider here is that broadband options vary from site to site and that in some places the option of multiple carriers does not exist. That is why it is important to plan everything thoroughly.

So, if you are planning to downgrade your current leased lines, you should first find out if such a downgrade is even available from your current provider. Otherwise, check your options with an additional ISP in your area, if any.

Step #4: Consider Visibility

One part of the successful SD-WAN migration is having better visibility when it comes to proprietary algorithms used by SD-WAN in order to determine the best path which varies with each vendor. The algorithms are dynamic in nature, so the best path has a tendency to often change, which depends on the algorithm, as well as parameters like latency, network loss, network bandwidth, QoS, and traffic profile.

Regardless of the path, it is paramount to possess end-to-end visibility when it comes to the underlying network and the overlaying app delivery, in order to better troubleshoot possible faults.

Therefore, you should consider investing in a network monitoring platform. If you do, it can provide not only visibility into VPN and MPLS networks but also into the public Internet. You should also consider upgrading your vendor’s SD-WAN view of the network, to further mitigate risks and get a completely unbiased view of the lines.

Step #5: Managed SD-WAN or Not?

This is a crucial step in guaranteeing a painless SD-WAN migration that will not affect your current operations and your networking infrastructure. You should consider whether you want to implement your SD-WAN as a managed service, or not. There are many benefits to having SD-WAN as a managed service, but you should make the decision based on your business and network environment. If you have limited manpower and limited IT infrastructure, choosing a managed SD-WAN solution will ensure a better transition, but also a better operation.

In order to make a decision, you should know what managed SD-WAN entails. According to MEF (a global industry alliance defining SD-WAN technologies and solutions), fundamental aspects of managed SD-WAN services are:

  • Secure and IP-based virtual overlay network
  • Transport-independence
  • SLA of each SD-WAN line
  • App-driven packet forwarding
  • High availability using multiple WAN links
  • Centralized management, orchestration, and control

Spooster’s SD-WAN as a managed service guarantees all of these crucial components for a prime SD-WAN migration. Through a managed SD-WAN you get a seamless transition from your traditional WAN, lower costs and simpler billing mechanisms in case of multiple ISPs, as well as efficient centralized management.

Some organizations find the DIY approach to SD-WAN like the best solutions. However, a majority of organizations turn to Service Providers such as Spooster, for their expertise and the simplicity they bring.