When it comes to managing the complexity of a cloud-based IT environment, implementing software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can introduce helpful visibility and control over traffic through segmentation. Like any other infrastructure upgrade, an SD-WAN migration can come with surprises and challenges if there hasn’t been adequate planning for the transition.
Here are a few of the challenges that might catch your enterprise by surprise (and how to avoid them):
New Security Considerations: Enterprises accustomed to backhauling traffic through a data center through multi-protocol label switching will appreciate the immediate boost in application performance that comes from direct internet access. The trade-off is that by avoiding the data center, you also avoid the data center security. This means you need to identify a way to maintain the same level of security at the branch location. The solutions are often next generation firewalls, malware protection, and a secure web gateway.
Choose for the Future: When it comes to appliances, it can feel like a bit of a strain on the budget at implementation time. You’ll not only need the devices, but also the security functions to make SD-WAN secure at all locations. Make sure this is not an area where you skimp on spending, particularly if you expect to grow. A branch office that’s increasing in capacity will need more tunnels and bandwidth, and even branch offices expected to remain their current size can anticipate an increase in bandwidth use simply due to cloud adoption.
Consider purchasing 20% more than your estimated capacity, and compare the cost of that capacity to the cost of an upgrade or a new appliance in three years. You may decide that the extra capacity is worth it.
Prioritize Availability: If your enterprise has a heavy reliance on uptime, make plans that accommodate that expectation. Install two SD-WAN appliances with failover at branch locations, as well as multiple internet service provider (ISP)-routed connections diversely connected on the last mile. In your budget, be sure to make an allowance for the necessary licensing fees that will come with additional appliances used for backup.
Test Application Performance: Testing should be a part of any technology upgrade, but when it comes to SD-WAN migration, there are particular types of testing you should include. Be sure to test cloud application and data center functions at different times of the day to see how performance is impacted by different conditions and loads. You’ll also want to test branch locations at different times, particularly if you are running a global enterprise.
Test the Provider: Just as a failure to test a solution could lead to regrets, so could the failure to test the provider. You need to be sure the provider is competent and responds quickly when you want to make a change or you need them to troubleshoot an issue. Don’t depend on marketing materials; you need to test the provider. Consider how you want to structure a management relationship with the provider. Do you want to be able to make some changes in-house, or would it be helpful for the provider to handle all management?Before an SD-WAN migration, take time to do some careful planning to avoid surprises and challenges. Contact us at eXemplify to begin the transition with an experienced guide.