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 its implementation. Read this SD-WAN implementation best practices guide to implement SD-WAN in your organization the right way.
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. SD-WAN technology has some key benefits towards changing network requirements of big enterprises. Here is a brief summery of the benefits of SD-WAN architecture:
SD-WAN deployment is predominantly executed by employing one of the three basic deployment models.
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.
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.
SD-WAN is a software-defined wide area network while Hybrid WAN used to connect two geographically distinct WANs to a single site utilizing two different connection types. This is the major difference between SD-WAN and Hybrid WAN. 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.
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
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.
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.
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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.
Irrespective of the scale of your SD-WAN deployment, the following best practices must be adhered to for achieving a successful implementation.
The number of remote sites and their criticality has a significant impact on the available SD-WAN deployment options. Small scale SD-WAN setups:
On the other hand Large scale SD-WAN setups:
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.
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:
It is difficult to achieve appropriate routing decisions without carrying out such an application audit.
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:
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.
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!