SD-WAN offers many benefits to network teams, from reducing costs over traditional MPLS connections to improving application performance with route optimization and bulletproof failover. However, deploying this solution is a complex flip-the-switch activity. Gaining alignment with decision-makers on their business needs and how SD-WAN can address those is critical for success. This process will help ensure that your SD-WAN deployment goes smoothly.
Understand the WAN
The SD-WAN implementation guide provides deployment guidance for an extended enterprise network design. It includes a blueprint for deploying feature and device templates, showing how to integrate them into an extended enterprise network architecture. SD-WAN is the technology that enables businesses to use the Internet for data transfer, eliminating the need for expensive MPLS circuits. Using multiple broadband connections, SD-WAN routes traffic over the best available path based on predefined policies. Traditionally, WANs were siloed, requiring dedicated IT resources to manage and secure each branch and home office. With digital transformation initiatives driving business growth today, IT teams must be agile and connected with headquarters, remote locations, colocation sites, and cloud applications. With an SD-WAN solution, IT managers can reduce costs and improve agility by connecting these locations via a single-pane-of-glass management system. The key is ensuring that the WAN supports cloud strategies, delivers high performance for critical applications, and offers a seamless experience between offices, home offices, and the cloud. Gaining alignment among decision-makers early on is essential to a successful SD-WAN migration. Whether it’s the CMO focused on delivering great end-user experiences or the CISO looking to ensure security, each person has unique goals that an SD-WAN can address.
Define the Needs
A basic SD-WAN solution directs traffic on an application basis down a single path. This can reduce latency and jitter but doesn’t provide a consistent quality of experience (QoE). A business-driven SD-WAN actively monitors underlay transport services. It uses continuous self-learning to steer traffic based on the WAN links performance to deliver the best possible application experience. This includes overcoming common network impairments like packet loss, latency, and jitter. It also enables you to optimise your WAN capacity by leveraging multiple network connections to your sites, using a dual connectivity strategy that includes public Internet and private network services. This reduces cost and improves WAN resilience. A unified management portal lets you visualise the entire network and simplifies network governance. It also enables you to configure bandwidth capacity, speed, performance, and security mechanisms. In addition, a business-driven SD-WAN can handle a complete transport outage seamlessly by providing sub-second failover, preventing applications from being interrupted. This translates to a much better user experience. It lets you avoid paying for unused bandwidth through WAN link optimization capabilities and secure direct cloud connectivity options.
Select the Right Solution
The right SD-WAN solution should support business needs now and in the future without add-ons or overlays introducing complexity. It should be easily deployable, easy to manage, and provide secure connectivity with no specialized hardware at branch offices. It should also provide complete, end-to-end security to eliminate silos between networks and systems. It should deliver a great end-user experience and allow IT teams to automate routine networking tasks. SD-WAN provides bandwidth efficiency, cost savings, and improved application performance by reducing latency and improving reliability using multiple routes. It also enables a seamless on-ramp to the cloud with improved security and performance, whether to on-premises, public, private, or hybrid clouds. Decide whether to select a DIY, managed, or co-managed offering that can be installed and managed by IT teams or a managed service provider (MSP). The type of solution selected will likely depend on the resources organisations can muster for evaluation, implementation, and ongoing management. An MSP can simplify the process by providing the expertise and resources needed. This can make the project less labour-intensive and more straightforward to complete on time.
Plan the Deployment
Getting SD-WAN right from the start is crucial to maximising return on investment and minimising risk. Whether replacing MPLS or deploying as an overlay solution, a strategic plan can help ensure success and avoid common hang-ups like project delays, budget overruns, and performance problems. SD-WAN encryption encrypts data to prevent others from accessing your sensitive information when it travels over the Internet. This helps protect against threats such as identity theft and ransomware. Improved application performance: By providing better connectivity and reducing latency, SD-WAN enhances applications, including VoIP and videoconferencing, for improved productivity and customer satisfaction. It can also increase bandwidth efficiency and provide a seamless on-ramp to the cloud. Business-driven SD-WAN monitors all underlay WAN transport services, detects packet loss and latency issues, and dynamically directs traffic to alternative paths. This can minimise outages and ensure high application performance and QoE. It can also reduce IT overhead and costs by allowing organisations to use cheaper broadband or more reliable MPLS circuits in their WAN networks.
Test the Solution
The best SD-WAN solutions make deploying and managing your network easy. They offer centralised automation controls and capabilities to set up full or partial topologies for branch locations and interconnect regions. This allows network teams to quickly and securely connect home offices, remote sites, and multi-cloud application workflows. They also provide WAN simplification, lower costs, bandwidth efficiency, and simplified cloud on-ramp and performance to boost productivity. For example, a robust application optimization feature enables you to prioritise applications sensitive to latency and packet loss, such as VoIP, to ensure your employees can work remotely with clear communication. Lastly, the solution should have a simple, fast zero-touch provisioning process and support multiple connectivity types, including MPLS, broadband internet connections, and cellular LTE. In addition, it should have out-of-band management to ensure your network team has 24/7 access to the system, even if the SD-WAN connection is down. This helps to reduce the time to resolve problems and minimises the impact of outages on business operations.