Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is a popular infrastructure upgrade for enterprises investing in cloud solutions. Its improved visibility and management options as well as traffic segmentation help enterprise IT get a better handle on networking costs and application performance.
SD-WAN is often billed as a zero-touch, automated technology, but it is certainly not simple to implement or optimize. While it can solve a lot of network challenges, SD-WAN introduces some of its own.
Security: While some of the features of SD-WAN, such as deploying virtual private networks (VPNs), have been around for a long time, edge security changes with this type of networking solution. As companies transition to cloud solutions, the data is removed from centralized data centers to edge devices at branch locations and in mobile technology. The edge no longer acts as a perimeter. SD-WAN solutions must ensure that security is managed and configured appropriately for the requirements of the individual company.
Network Connectivity Selection: Enterprises are often initially interested in SD-WAN due to its cost-saving potential. The ability to direct network traffic to different pathways based on the transmission type is a significant advantage over traditional networking approaches.
In many cases, however, network teams don’t ask enough questions about price differences in SD-WAN, and may not realize that cost savings are tied to a higher likelihood of latency or outages, or a service level agreement that doesn’t guarantee the support they require. In some cases, available pathways aren’t diverse enough and downtime is not easily remedied.
Deployment: SD-WAN may be marketed as a DIY solution, where installation, provisioning, and support are all easily handled in-house, but few enterprises are able to handle this level of network management. Before choosing an SD-WAN solution, enterprises must be certain they have the in-house talent and skills for the level of management they will have over the network.
BYOD: The freedom that comes with cloud applications and the ability to use them on any connected device also introduces new challenges to network teams. An employee can use cloud solutions across personal and work devices, but IT teams have to determine whether to prevent those personal devices from having access to the network. They may take an opposite approach and embrace the advantages that come with having access from any device.
Network teams need to evaluate the traffic coming from Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) sources like any other data coming over the WAN. Granular reporting is necessary to identify and classify risk, and it’s also possible to utilize content filtering and intrusion detection as a way to add protection to the network.
Despite its challenges, SD-WAN provides unprecedented control and visibility into network activity for optimized performance in cloud applications. It also offers the potential for significant networking cost reduction and increased agility. For more information about pursuing a seamless SD-WAN implementation, contact us at eXemplify. We can help you anticipate and address the types of challenges that could impact the effectiveness and expected benefits of an SD-WAN solution.