Thoughts to Consider Before Choosing an SD-WAN Vendor

SD-WAN Vendor

SD-WAN has emerged as the must-have technology for distributed organizations. With benefits such as increased network speed and ease of use, it has helped many businesses connect their disparate offices in one, relatively seamless network. If you are thinking about adopting this white-hot technology, here are some things to consider as you evaluate your SD-WAN vendor options.

The first thing to determine is what your future needs are for connecting your employees while evaluating the business value that SD-WAN can bring to your business. When prioritizing the features you want Lee Doyle of Network World recommends asking these questions:

  • How many branch locations do you currently have? How many employees are at distributed branches?
  • Which applications are mission critical to distributed employees? Where are these applications hosted? (data center, SaaS, public cloud)
  • What are the current WAN bandwidth requirements at each location and how fast is the demand for WAN bandwidth growing? What is your current spending on WAN bandwidth?
  • What are your key security requirements at the branch?

When you’ve answered these, you can move on to looking for a potential SD-WAN service provider that can help you implement your SD-WAN solution.

Do you want a DIY approach or a managed solution?

A managed services approach to SD-WAN technology means you will choose a vendor that will take on your SD-WAN project end-to-end. They will work with you to determine your needs and what features you want and use that information to choose a technology solution. They will navigate the vendor selection process and manage the relationship once your SD-WAN solution is up and running. They will take care of the necessary updates and routine maintenance.

If you choose to go for an internally managed system, the DIY approach, you will need to review technology vendors yourself to choose the one that best suits your bandwidth requirements and current WAN/LAN architecture. The right product matters, so this is something you’ll want to think through. 

What network security options are you looking for?

When you invest in SD-WAN technology, you also gain the ability to secure unreliable Internet links and traffic flows. They generally provide basic firewall capabilities as well as content filtering, endpoint identification and management, and policy enforcement capabilities. They can also deploy packet identification to understand your traffic flows that determine if traffic is coming from a trusted location. It’s important to talk to your technology vendor to understand the specific network security capabilities they offer with their SD-WAN options.

How easy is the deployment?

When you have remote offices, you may or may not have on-location IT staff. If you don’t have IT staff on location, you need to ensure that whatever SD-WAN option you choose is easily deployed and understood by those without deep technical knowledge. SD-WAN products should be plug-and-play with WAN circuits and remote configuration. They should easily integrate into the existing network equipment and network security products at the branch.

What does your current WAN/LAN branch architecture look like?

Unless you are getting rid of your current set-up and starting from scratch, you will already have a base of WAN and LAN equipment already deployed that a new SD-WAN solution will need to integrate with. This can include routers, firewalls, IP VPNs, LAN switches, Wi-Fi controllers, and WAN optimization products. While SD-WAN technology usually integrates well with your existing set-up, it will probably require you to deploy another piece of equipment at your branch locations. This process gives your IT department the opportunity to review your existing set-up and review what’s working and what could be replaced. 

If you’re looking to find a partner for your SD-WAN managed services, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation. 

Trends in SD-WAN You Need to Know About


2020 is going to be a year of innovation. Businesses are poised to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) more fully and rely more and more on the cloud to lower costs and remain agile. This means that the white-hot SD-WAN market will continue to explode with more vendors and suppliers introducing new products or building on their existing offerings. In fact, PRNewswire’s research shows that the SD-WAN market and the like will exceed $5 Billion dollars by 2025. 

With all of this, what should we expect? We expect you will see innovations in cloud onramps, support for leading SaaS applications, security and management/automation platforms as the year goes on. But what else is in store for SD-WAN this year? Here are the top five trends we’re watching this year.

Improved security, both in vendor partnerships and built into the technology.

The nature of SD-WAN, leveraging the bandwidth of mostly unsecured internet connections, makes it particularly vulnerable security-wise. Since the beginning, SD-WAN vendors have beefed up their offerings with additional security to ensure data remains safe. This year, we expect that SD-WAN suppliers will continue to improve the depth and breadth of their native security protocols to counter the rising tide of cybercrime.

Additionally, we expect that SD-WAN suppliers will start to take advantage of strategic partnerships with big-name security firms, building those capabilities into their offerings. These partnerships should offer a one-stop security solution for easy orchestration and management, along with the ability to include analytics that may warn on impending attacks.

Enhanced integration with large cloud providers.

No business uses just one cloud provider anymore. The offerings are too numerous and too critical to limit to just one application. In the coming year, you can expect SD-WAN to give your employees a seamless user experience, no matter what cloud-based application they are using. SD-WAN automation will also make adding new cloud applications easier than ever, despite the inherent complexities. 

Greater extension of SD-WAN deployment.

SD-WAN deployment is poised to break out of the office in the coming year. As our lives become ever more technology-enabled, the SD-WAN edge will continue to expand to ships, trains, and even the backpacks of first responders, wherever high-quality cloud-connected activity is needed. This trend will drive WAN transformation beyond the office and into every aspect of the way business is done.

Better support for SaaS.

With the expansion of business reliance on the cloud, SaaS providers have become more and more crucial to the way business gets done. But it’s challenging for today’s IT departments to guarantee the quality of service to these applications because of non-standard services, security mechanisms, APIs and management tools. Currently, it’s up to the IT department to clear each SaaS provider within the SD-WAN management portal. We expect this to change in the coming year. Knowing the importance of the critical SaaS applications, SD-WAN suppliers will continue to improve their automation of policies designed to deliver appropriate QoS without IT intervention.

Service providers enhance their offerings to include managed service options.

Currently, about half of enterprises who have deployed SD-WAN are using a managed services solution, and service providers have taken notice and are gearing up to meet this need. A select few service providers already have years of pilots under their belts. Many have realized that their initial technology options were too limiting to their customers. This year, they will amp up their SD-WAN solutions offerings to more fully satisfy the needs of their customers.

If you’re looking to find a partner for your SD-WAN managed services, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation. 

5 Myths About Migrating to SD-WAN


SD-WAN systems have been receiving a lot of hype recently and for good reason. In fact, according to Avant Communications, SD-WAN has the highest RDI in the State of Disruption study. 

SD-WAN is taking off and there are many benefits to adding an SD-WAN system to your network’s infrastructure. But, there are some myths circulating out there about what it can do versus traditional systems as well. Let’s cut through the confusion and explore five common myths about it.

SD-WAN will totally replace MPLS.

In one word, no. There is no way for SD-WAN to provide guaranteed Quality of Service (see myth #2) which means that businesses will always need reliable transportation for their data, whether it’s MPLS or another form. It will change the way that your Internet connectivity and MPLS combine to give you the connectivity to your business needs. However, as long as you need to ensure your business traffic and applications run uninterrupted, there will always be a need for MPLS.

SD-WAN can ensure Quality of Service (QoS).

This one may seem counterintuitive as one of the many benefits touted by SD-WAN enthusiasts is that they guarantee QoS by measuring packet loss, jitter, and latency and compensate for them. That is true but, and this is a big one, it only compensates for them by finding a better path. What it does is make real-time, policy-based routing decisions based on current network performance indicators. But, if there is no good path available, it cannot guarantee you QoS. 

SD-WAN is the same as WAN optimization.

While these two are complementary concepts, they are not the same thing. The goal of WAN optimization is to reduce the bandwidth consumed within a WAN. This service is designed for TCP traffic that is not delay-sensitive. A side benefit of this is that it will make more room for delay-sensitive traffic, like VOIP, and boost its quality. SD-WAN deals with delay-sensitive and real-time traffic differently. Rather than having to optimize your network for better bandwidth, it actively searches out a better path for your traffic. Combining these two is a powerful way to boost your network’s performance.

SD-WAN is only superior to MPLS because of cost.

It is true that SD-WANs are cheaper than MPLS but there are more benefits than just lower costs. They are also easier to manage, operate, and maintain. You don’t need to be an expert to run an SD-WAN. Their controls are centralized, GUI based, and easier to work with than a traditional MPLS. This argument also makes a false dichotomy; you don’t have to choose one over the other. As we have mentioned before, it is not going to replace MPLS. SD-WAN will enhance MPLS, making your network traffic more reliable and smoother.

An SD-WAN will cut down on overall networking costs.

This system will optimize your business’s IT spend. It allows your network to be optimized for price and performance. Whether it reduces your overall spend depends on the applications you are using. However, it can reduce your commercial and operational costs by allowing you to support multiple network functions, like routing, firewall, and WAN acceleration, in one, rather than purchasing and maintaining multiple devices.

If you’re looking to make the migration to SD-WAN, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation. 

What to Look for in a Managed SD-WAN Partner

SD-WAN Partner

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide-area network, can bring many benefits to companies large and small but can be tricky to deploy. You know the benefits of bringing on a managed partner for your SD-WAN needs, but now you’re faced with many partner choices and don’t know which one to choose. Here are some questions to consider in helping you find the best SD-WAN partner.

What is their quality assurance process like? 

SD-WAN relies heavily on software, so it’s crucial that any managed partner you choose has a strong quality assurance, or QA, arm that’s able to vet any code before it’s rolled out system-wide. You don’t want a bug to infect your system because your partner didn’t fully test the code before rolling it out.

Do they have deep domain expertise? 

You’ll want to choose a partner that specializes in SD-WAN while also understanding that SD-WAN is a relatively new field and there are many aspects to it. Your chosen partner should have more than just expertise in SD-WAN. They should understand what your existing network looks like and all your application requirements, and how that will impact your SD-WAN needs.

Do they have flexible deployment plans? 

Many companies like to test SD-WAN in a few locations or areas before rolling it out company-wide. The best managed partners will be flexible enough to accommodate these kinds of tests before managing a full-scale rollout. They will also work on your schedule and with your requirements in mind.

How agile are they? 

What if you want to use your SD-WAN technology for other forms of virtualization, such as consuming network functions on demand? Your managed partner should have adaptive network control that can let you dial up or dial down network capacity on-demand to meet your needs. They should also easily manage virtual connections to cloud providers. SD-WAN should complement the agility that the cloud has brought to business, not hinder it.

Do they offer multiple connectivity options? 

MPLS. Internet. Wireless. SD-WAN can work with them all. It will be easier to build a best-in-class network if you choose a managed partner that offers a variety of transport options. Better partners will let you use your existing services, even if they are through a competing carrier. The best partners will take on the management of those relationships.

What security options do they offer? 

Security is more important now than it ever has been. Your managed partner should have substantial security options that you can opt in to, if you choose. These are features like intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS), unified threat management, distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) prevention, and encryption.

If you’re looking to find a partner for your SD-WAN managed services, we can help. Contact us for a free consultation. 

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