The first WANs were built to connect offices with terminals to mainframe and minicomputer systems. The design was simple: point-to-point connections from offices to data centers. Employees could access shared resources from this central database. This was eventually replaced with frame relay, and MPLS – intelligent packet-routing technologies that made WANs more efficient
In the 2000s, with the Internet exploding on the scene, many companies started using ISPs and cellular service as the underlying network providers for always-on and remote connectivity. This is when SD-WAN technology emerged. Software-defined wide area network is a virtualized, “overlay” network that abstracts the underlying network architecture.
However, there may be some challenges and risk factors associated with deployment, security, and quality of service. Awareness is important so that you can choose the right SD-WAN provider who can give the best solution to meet your needs.
Here are some common SD-WAN challenges and tips on how they can be offset.
Proliferation of vendors in the market can be overwhelming and confusing. There are a range of SD-WAN features available to choose from with every product promising digital transformation. IT teams may also be constrained by network complexity and existing commitments. For example, security vendor contracts don’t often terminate at the same time as WAN services.
While reducing costs is one of the main drivers associated with SD-WAN it is hard to achieve without quantifying bottom-line savings. Different implementation aspects like feature consolidation, use of existing infrastructure and differentiating between critical and non-essential features is crucial for budget management. One also needs to factor in one-time implementation cost and its impact on ongoing cost savings. Cost-efficiency in day-to-day business operations may not happen until both the technology and its corresponding efficient working practices have been adopted throughout your organisation.
SD-WAN does not come with in-built security features. Security is managed differently by each provider. There are several vendors that may not have a strong security system, but their marketing message will speak otherwise. However, they do boast about replacing the existing security functionality. If your system is lacking security capabilities, then you are simply exposing your organization to external threats.
The challenge with SD-WAN is that each security feature needs to be configured and deployed correctly depending on the specific requirements of each business. The IT team may face challenges while deploying services for specific business needs. The team needs to have expertise in understanding and delivering the right security policies.
It is good to focus on application performance while integrating SD-WAN into your current system. However, you need to remember that if the SD-WAN design has not been optimized for application behavior, then implementing it can prove to be an expensive mistake. All IT teams need to consider existing cloud infrastructure (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud etc.) and vendor capability in accessing this infrastructure.
Vendors usually fall in three categories in terms of cloud access:
Without an implementation schedule in place, you could face costly issues while integrating SD-WAN technology. Application lag, lose of site connectivity and network disruption could affect business continuity. Without a backup plan in place, there is a risk of customer dissatisfaction due to unforeseen situations. Planning the order and schedule of integration is vital for business success.
SD-WAN technology offers numerous benefits to organizations integrating it into their network architecture. It has demonstrated great value to firms by providing a flexible and quicker option for network transformation. It promises uninterrupted unidirectional measurement of traffic between any pair of locations.
In spite of this rapid advancement, IT teams need to follow best practices while implementing SD-WAN technology. Bringing in an expert can make SD-WAN adoption a smoother and cost efficient process. Contact us for an initial consultation today and keep in mind that we never charge for our services!