When selecting an SD-WAN solution, it’s essential to move beyond evaluating feature sets to consider factors that impact your network’s performance and total cost of ownership. The best way to do this is by focusing on critical areas like value, flexibility, and security.
Ensure your network is ready for the future of work-from-anywhere by choosing a provider with device provisioning prowess and centralized controller capabilities. It will simplify deployment and make branch expansion easy.
What to consider with SD WAN solutions? One of the first things buyers consider when evaluating SD-WAN solutions is how much they will cost. The answer to this question is complex because many factors go into pricing an SD-WAN network. Nevertheless, understanding these factors can help you compare the costs of different vendors and decide which solution is right for your business.
SD-WAN solutions are often billed as a monthly recurring managed service. Depending on how many locations are included in the network, there may also be a hardware price associated with the solution. Additionally, the network size can affect the cost of an SD-WAN solution as it will have to support data transfers between sites.
Another cost consideration is the ability of an SD-WAN to reduce IT costs through automation and application optimization. For instance, a network with SD-WAN can automatically route traffic to the best available internet connection. It can improve performance for remote sites by reducing latency and ensuring reliability. Additionally, SD-WAN can reduce IT overhead by lowering the number of employees needed to carry out routine tasks.
Finally, a good SD-WAN solution can reduce network outages by providing redundancy across multiple links. It is significant for remote locations where internet services can be unpredictable, from throttled hotel Wi-Fi to weak 4G cellular connections. The best SD-WANs can quickly self-heal when a disruption occurs by detecting connectivity issues and switching to an alternate transport model.
Many SD-WAN solutions use various network technologies to provide business users with quality connectivity. The solution must meet network performance standards known as Quality of Experience (QoE). Look for an SD-WAN provider with a track record of meeting QoE requirements for its customers. For example, the carrier should have a proven ability to optimize route selection and routing so that information moves over predetermined pathways rather than random Internet routes.
It’s also essential to assess whether the solution can address bandwidth needs at all sites. Too often, bandwidth is overlooked as an infrastructure project is being deployed, and businesses run into issues with application performance or poor user productivity. A good SD-WAN vendor will evaluate bandwidth requirements upfront and recommend any needed upgrades as the service is being implemented.
The solution should also support all remote locations’ connectivity needs, including cloud access, business communication and collaboration applications such as Unified Communications (UC) and videoconferencing, and centralized applications such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The solution should offer policy-based QoS to prioritize latency-sensitive applications and select the best path based on real-time network conditions.
The solution should be scalable to support growth at a pace that makes sense for the organization. For example, some answers will provide a single hardware and software platform to help two branch retail locations, while others can scale to serve 200-plus branches for large financial organizations.
With SD-WAN, enterprises can deploy secure VPN tunnels to connect their branch offices to their data center and cloud. It allows them to improve application performance, reduce latency, and enhance security. SD-WAN also offers better visibility, automation, and control to support business goals.
Unlike traditional MPLS networking, which relies on specialized hardware, SD-WAN uses software programs with generic network hardware to control how WAN connections are set up and routed. These programs are based on software-defined networking principles and leverage real-time traffic monitoring to select the best channel for each contact.
This flexibility enables businesses to save on leased MPLS circuits and use the Internet for low-priority data while reserving private links for mission-critical or low-latency applications. They can also boost WAN capacity by leveraging multiple routes to reduce congestion and provide redundancy.
Another advantage of SD-WAN is its ability to optimize traffic for specific applications, such as those sensitive to latency and packet loss. It enables users to work from home or while traveling on business without experiencing slowness or dropouts. It also allows them to use direct Internet connections to access software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) apps. It helps to improve application performance and user experience. Additionally, an SD-WAN solution can offer a centralized policy management platform to simplify how IT sets up and manages networks across different branches, sites, data centers, and the cloud.
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting an SD-WAN solution is how it handles security. Sensitive data flowing across a network and between different cloud types must remain secure, requiring an infrastructure that encrypts the data plane. It can be accomplished by combining VPN tunnels and security gateway appliances. In addition, the solution must block new infrastructure devices until a captive portal authenticates them. It can be accessed via a registration or serial number or with some other means of verification.
Choosing a solution that includes unified security monitoring, management, and policy enforcement is also crucial. It will help ensure that your branch locations have safe connectivity to the public Internet while enabling you to leverage your existing security architectures, including NGFW and IPSec VPNs, for centralized visibility and control.
Another aspect of security to consider is how an SD-WAN solution manages application performance to reduce latency and packet loss. Ensuring remote workers can access critical business applications from anywhere is essential.. Look for an application optimization solution that can increase reliability by routing traffic over multiple pathways. When bandwidth is limited, it will enhance the quality of your application experience and ensure business applications run smoothly.