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.