SD-WAN is in a similar situation to where Cloud Computing was ten years ago. Back then, hardly anyone had heard of virtual machines. Now, nearly every organization has a least investigated Cloud services. It looks like SD-WAN is going to follow a similar path.
SD-WAN technology is designed for organizations that want to connect multiple sites over long distances. It enables enterprises to dynamically route traffic across a hybrid WAN based on current network status. By replacing traditional branch routers with appliances that assess and utilize different transport technologies based on their performance, it allows enterprises to route large portions of their traffic over cost-effective services, such as broadband.
It’s important to remember, though, that not all SD-WAN offerings are the same. Before you decide which one to go with, here are four basic questions that you need to consider:
1. What Do You Need the Network to Do?
Before you evaluate any solutions or providers you must have an understanding of the applications you need to support. Will you need to deliver real-time applications, such as voice and video, or applications such as Salesforce or Workday? If so, you need a solution, and a provider, that offers policy-based networking. This will establish policies prioritizing video and voice packets, which will ensure that they are delivered correctly. Some providers also offer load balancing by choosing the optimal routes for data, which will minimize network congestion.
2. What Are Your Bandwidth Requirements?
Its also important to estimate how much capacity you think you will need today, and in the future? If you need to connect data centers on opposite ends of the country, you’ll want to choose a provider that can handle a high bandwidth and can scale as your data needs increase. If you are connecting small branch offices to HQ, maybe you won’t need as much.
Many SD-WAN vendors offer circuit optimization and segmentation, which enables a 10Mb physical connection to perform like a 40Mb virtual one. If you don’t need this service, or you already have it in place, you can avoid vendors that offer it, as they typically charge more.
3. Premises-based vs. Cloud based?
Unlike traditional networking technologies, such as MPLS, which requires dedicated hardware in your data center and/or remote locations, SD-WAN equipment can be either on-premises or delivered via the cloud. Both options are equally reliable, so your choice depends on which one you’re more comfortable with.
4. How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
As with many technologies, the services you choose often depend on how much you’re willing to spend. The good news is that even the higher end SD-WAN installations tend to be less expensive than legacy private line and MPLS services.
The Advantage team can help you answer to these questions and will then work to determine the best mix of service providers to meet your unique requirements today and in the future. We’ll do the heavy lifting, from contacting the providers to procuring and evaluating the proposals. We’ll then narrow them down to a select few, and let you make the all the decision. And if you go forward with one of the proposals, we’ll project manage the entire implementation to ensure that you get all the stated benefits from the solutions. www.advantagecg.com