Digital transformation for any enterprise begins with a robust and reliable network infrastructure. This network setup is the backbone to provision scalability, automation and performance of enterprise applications. Today, SD-WAN or Software-Defined WAN is the more popular and cost-effective network solution in the market. However, technology like SD-WAN is only as good as it’s implementation.

Why use SD-WAN?

The last few years have witnessed massive shifts in enterprise technology. Companies that adopt cutting-edge technologies like mobile applications, cloud and edge computing, Internet Of Things and Artificial intelligence are solving problems faster and getting ahead of their competitors. This digital change is accelerated by implementing SD-WAN. Some benefits of SD-WAN architecture include:

  • Cost savings due to reduction in capital and operational expenditure
  • Centralized network control
  • Ease of network management
  • Ability to integrate multiple network carriers

How to Implement SD-WAN?

SD-WAN deployment is predominantly executed by employing one of the three basic deployment models.

In-house Deployment

The simplest type where internal IT and procurement teams get in touch with vendors and enter into direct WAN connection contracts with them. After finalizing the connections, they can be deployed and managed by the IT teams. However, this model of implementation comes with its own set of ‘trial and error’ situations, especially for first-time implementations.

Using a Managed Service Provider

The second and more popular model, especially for smaller organizations, is to employ the services of an MSP or a Managed Service Provider. The MSP takes charge of the project and manages end to end SD-WAN deployment. MSPs can also help with relationship establishment and management with WAN providers. Typically, this model also covers on-going maintenance requirements as well.

Hybrid Model

Larger organizations have an existing IT management setup involving a decent-sized IT team. Therefore, such businesses prefer a third kind of model that is a combination of the first two. This hybrid solution distributes the duties between the MSP and the in-house IT team.

Steps for successful implementation

1.   Identify business requirements

1. Identify business requirements

No two organizations run identical business processes. It is important to identify the problem areas for your business. You can review the data using an incident management tool to identify what is causing repeated incidents. Are they due to low bandwidth, network link failures or hardware failures? Narrowing down your particular needs will help to differentiate between the must-have and good-to-have features for your selection process. This is the first step for successful SD WAN implementation

2.   Identify a suitable vendor solution

Your vendor should be able to meet any industry, country, or region-specific regulations that can dictate network requirements. Good vendors have robust quality assurance (QA), solid hardware and software support and reliable technology stacks in place. You may need to use multiple vendors and services can to ensure flexibility and performance in your SD-WAN implementation.

3.   Plan the implementation schedule

The time required for an SD-WAN implementation is normally dependent on the number of locations, size, and complexity of your network. You will need to work with your vendor and inform key stakeholders so they can work around any network outages. Customers may also need to be informed if customer-facing applications are impacted.

4.   Bring in professional help

External project managers can make your SD-WAN implementation go more smoothly. They can monitor the process, make sure all boxes have been checked and solve unexpected problems swiftly. With over 180 carriers and service providers, CarrierBiD telecom consulting is the best answer to your telecom needs. Let us help you deploy and manage an SD-WAN network while delivering great service to your internal team and valuable customers. Contact us today!

5.   Data-Flow Collection After Deployment

Once the SD-WAN setup is deployed successfully, it is important to continue ongoing maintenance to ensure the network operates efficiently. Even though this process is largely automated it still needs to be monitored. Data analysis of business demands, user requirements and growth can give insights on future requirements.

Best Practices for Implementing SD-WAN

Best Practices for Implementing SD-WAN

Irrespective of the scale of your SD-WAN deployment, the following best practices must be adhered to for achieving a successful implementation.

Determining the Number of Remote Sites

The number of remote sites and their criticality has a significant impact on the available SD-WAN deployment options. Small scale SD-WAN setups:

  • Keep the overall project architecture as-is by utilizing out-of-the-box configurations.
  • Use star topology to redirect traffic from a single central location
  • Are characterized by budget and manpower constraints

On the other hand Large scale SD-WAN setups:

  • Offer more flexibility as they can become more intricate.
  • Require more manpower and planning
  • Critical remote sites may need to be scheduled first.

Anticipated WAN Usage and the Total Number of Users

The end-users, their data size, and the applications they use are an essential statistic to size as well as design the proposed SD-WAN setup. This is especially true in the case of remote sites that have thousands of users. If the users are accessing applications that are managed on-site, then WAN optimization and intelligence do not play a critical role. However, even if 5 or 10 users are accessing mission-critical applications that are located far from the WAN then WAN optimization becomes a key component. Therefore, while it is important to design the solution based on the number of users, the usage is an equally important consideration for ensuring best practices.

Application and Workload Analysis

A deep level of application analysis is critical to a successful SD-WAN implementation irrespective of the size of your business. Your report should include:

  • Anticipated services as well as different workloads that will flow using the SD-WAN setup.
  • Application level usage of network resources.
  • Rate of use of real-time streaming like video, voice, etc.

It is difficult to achieve appropriate routing decisions without carrying out such an application audit.

WAN Connectivity Options

WAN Connectivity Options

Each location in the SD-WAN implementation project may have different WAN connection options. Therefore, the next step is to accurately gather this data for every location. For the SD-WAN to work optimally and efficiently, it is important to ensure that each location has at least two WAN links. Link requirement may change depending on:

  • Site location – urban or rural areas
  • WAN carriers – MPLS or internet broadband.
  • WAN quality – throughput, resiliency, and latency
  • WAN scalability and your budget

Analytics and Continued Improvement

It is important to remember that SD-WAN architecture is deployed considering the original information that was provided at the requirement gathering phase. However, it is the network administrator’s responsibility to study analytics and ensure continuous improvement in the process.

Find a solution that works for you

No two SD-WAN implementations are alike. Using this information as a baseline, you need to identify an SD-WAN implementation process that works for you. With over a decade’s experience in customizing SD-WAN implementation for our clients, our experts can guide you with this process. Contact us today!

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