Preparing for SD-WAN: What to look for and what to consider

Find out what to look for in your SD-WAN solution, and what you should do once you've found it.

By now, the benefits that an SD-WAN can offer to businesses have been well-communicated. In addition to preventing common pain points like latency and packet loss, this technology can also give network administrators more control over their networks. Thanks to SD-WAN, companies now have the ability to prioritize certain network activity over others, ensuring top-notch performance at every office location connected to the wide area network.

For these reasons, the popularity of SD-WAN solutions has exploded. In fact, according to SDX Central, this market is on track to expand by more than 90 percent through 2020, reaching a value of $1.3 billion within the next few years.

"The popularity of SD-WAN solutions has exploded."

As more organizations across an array of industries seek to adopt SD-WAN, there are a few things decision-makers and IT leaders need to do to prepare:

Selecting a solution: What to look for

First and foremost, it's imperative to find the right SD-WAN solution that will match your business needs. Because adoption of this technology is on the rise, there are many options to choose from, including those from flagship IT providers and some market newcomers.

Before deployment, there are a few crucial features and capabilities to seek out in your SD-WAN, including: 

  • Seamless deployment: Your SD-WAN technology shouldn't be complicated to install or set up. The best SD-WANs are those that include automated configuration and centralized management. This makes initial deployment a breeze, and allows your IT team to view and manage the WAN from their location as opposed to having to travel to each branch office.
  • Physical or virtual?: This is an important question to answer, as it can help you better determine the SD-WAN that will work for you. Your network administrators may appreciate a virtual solution that they can put in place via software that lives within the network. A branch office, on the other hand, may prefer a physical appliance that can be plugged in. You should find a provider that can offer both physical and virtual options to ensure flexibility.
  • Agnostic connectivity support: Your SD-WAN solution should be able to work with any type of connectivity your company utilizes. This includes all-MPLS connections, all-broadband internet, or a combination of these and other connectivity options. This way, your network architects can create a multi-faceted WAN to underpin your every need.
  • Automatic traffic routing: Speaking of network paths, your SD-WAN should also enable automatic routing of traffic to support the best performance and accessibility. In this way, if there's an issue or outage on one link, traffic can be rerouted to a better performing link.
  • Network security: The most optimal SD-WAN solutions don't stop at application performance, though. Your technology should also include features for network and data protection, including encryption and VPN support.

Finding an SD-WAN that includes all of these elements may seem difficult, but anything less will leave your organization wanting when it comes to application performance, network connectivity and security.

Thankfully, Cisco's Intelligent WAN provides all of these capabilities and more. Check out this page today to see why Cisco's IWAN is among the top-rated SD-WAN solutions available today.

An SD-WAN can provide data protection measures to help safeguard each of your branch office locations. An SD-WAN can provide data protection measures to help safeguard each of your branch office locations.

Time to deploy: Ensuring a streamlined transition

Once you've selected an SD-WAN solution, your work isn't quite done just yet. There are a few steps you should include to help support a simplified transition process.

First, as TechTarget contributor Andrew Froehlich pointed out, it's important to prioritize the sites where the SD-WAN will be installed. A phased implementation can help ensure that your IT team isn't overwhelmed. At the same time, deploying the new technology at the sites considered most critical to your business will provide the best performance for your staff members.

Froehlich also noted that SD-WAN adoption can provide a beneficial opportunity to rethink your company's connectivity options. Because SD-WAN can support an array of network links, many businesses find it helpful to eliminate more expensive options like MPLS in favor of cheaper broadband internet. A move like this could potentially save your organization thousands of dollars in connectivity costs, so it's important to weigh your connectivity choices and find the links that work best for your enterprise.

Finally, once the rollout begins, it's imperative that your SD-WAN vendor provides the customer support you need. While installing and configuring an SD-WAN typically isn't an overly complicated process, it's advantageous to have an expert backing your efforts.

iT1 Source is a leading provider of IT solutions, including our partner Cisco's Intelligent WAN. Best of all, our expert consultants are there to assist you throughout your relationship with our organization. To find out more, contact iT1 Source today.