Improve Network Performance and Architecture with Ease, Scalability, and Security
Software-defined wide-area network, or SD-WAN, is a technology that is fundamentally changing enterprises’ approach to networking while driving a successful and scalable digital transformation strategy in the cloud. As we discussed in our first post about SD-WAN, there are many drivers for the rise of SD-WAN – a market predicted to top $8 billion by 2021 – three of which we feel are most relevant:
- New network architectures are needed to facilitate the digital transformation of the enterprise by enabling reliable and secure consumption of cloud applications.
- It’s difficult to make changes to traditional WANs; traditional WAN technology is also costly and does not take advantage of emerging technologies.
- Businesses want to improve network performance and reliability as well as drive cost-savings.
If your company is dealing with network provisioning growing pains or consistent networking challenges, particularly as you expand your reach globally and/or migrate more workloads to the cloud, then the time may be right to evaluate an SD-WAN solution. The beauty of SD-WAN is that geographic boundaries are no longer in place and off-site provisioning is a breeze; the IT team can easily add sites without changing the underlying network infrastructure. It also offers more visibility into network traffic, delivers better local connectivity for enterprise apps, optimizes the network stream for video/web presentations and generally facilitates multiple internet access points.
SD-WAN vendor capabilities vary substantially and are continually evolving. So, where do you begin?
Defining your networking profile, needs, and challenges:
Before you commence vetting any one SD-WAN vendor, start by painting a clear picture of what your requirements are so that you can clearly define what you need from an SD-WAN solution. Begin by asking yourself and individuals at your company the following questions:
- What complaints do users have about network performance?
- Which connections are underutilized or only used for backup?
- What are your mission-critical applications? Where are they located?
- How much bandwidth do you consume on average? How about at peak times?
- What are your biggest challenges in managing network costs?
- If you could improve one thing about your network, what would it be?
18 questions to ask when you begin to vet an SDWAN vendor:
When you’re ready to start researching and vetting SD-WAN vendors, we suggest you start by asking each vendor on your list the following questions:
- Who is/are your underlying service provider/providers?
- How many clients have you successfully deployed?
- What does your SD-WAN architecture look like?
- Which WAN functions do you offer as an SD-WAN vendor?
- What monitoring tools do you use? Does the solution offer sub-second response to network problems – not just link failures, but also network brownouts or periods of high packet loss and excessive jitter?
- Can you tell me about your cloud connectivity?
- How is the SD-WAN solution priced?
- Do you offer your solution as a managed service?
- Can you walk me through the installation process for the SD-WAN?
- What does your support plan look like?
- How is your solution architected for security?
- How resilient is your solution? Is it architected for high availability?
- Does the solution offer dynamic support of multiple active links? Can a single flow be striped across multiple disparate links?
- How is performance and reliability for SaaS and is public cloud services traffic assured?
- Are end-user connections (TCP flows) terminated when traffic has to be moved from one link to another, or are the sessions maintained?
- Can 4-nines (99.99 percent) reliability and performance predictability be delivered if only internet connections are used?
- Can the SD-WAN solution deliver 4-nines reliability for real-time applications (UC, UCaaS, Video Conferencing, etc.) even with an all-internet WAN?
- Do you have public or private customer references similar to my use case that you can provide?
Simplify your search for the right SD-WAN vendor by engaging with an expert.
These questions are just a starting point to help you as you begin to traverse the SD-WAN vendor landscape. Do you want to discuss the questions we outlined here in more detail and dive deeper into the next steps for selecting an SD-WAN vendor? Contact us here to set up a quick discovery call with an expert.