Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) offers promises of simplicity to enterprises attempting to sort out the complexity of network needs in the cloud era. From scalability to traffic segmentation, visibility, and zero-touch provisioning, many see SD-WAN as the answer to infrastructure challenges. So why are so many SD-WAN deployments stalled out or not seen through to complete the transition?
If you’ve been contemplating the option of migrating to SD-WAN, there are three areas that require your attention before proceeding. They also represent the three main areas where SD-WAN deployment tends to go wrong:
Partners: SD-WAN migration is challenging, and you don’t want the business partners you choose for the transition to be learning alongside your team. They should be able to guide you through the design and architecture options and be able to show that they have a repeatable migration process that has been effective with other enterprises your size. Your partners should be aware of the potential pitfalls and have detailed plans for helping you avoid them. Choosing the right partner is the difference between success and failure.
The category of partners is broad, because it includes your vendor, the channel partner that comes alongside you, and managed service providers. They all play important roles in your project. Be sure to choose partners that are committed to the success of your transition.
You also need for your team to be ready for the transition. While SD-WAN leverages many of the same core networking concepts that your team already knows, they’ll still need comprehensive training to become experts in SD-WAN. You may also want to find out if your vendor offers deployment assistance, so that your team has resources for a seamless deployment.
Product: The WAN is a foundational infrastructure that allows users to access the network and applications. SD-WAN products need to equip your WAN to be cloud ready and use a single platform for consolidation of branches. In the middle of all of this, it also needs to communicate with legacy protocols and networks.
Don’t simply go with the product that your legacy provider recommends; choose a partner that specializes in the WAN and understands your challenges in networking. The right SD-WAN solution will be integrated with legacy routing protocols and be able to talk with legacy sites. It should also be able to provide a smooth path for enterprises in which not all sites will go live with SD-WAN at once.
Planning: Even with the right people and product in place, there’s an important role for planning to avoid the risk of a stalled project. SD-WAN is replacing infrastructure, which means that firewalls, routers, and WAN optimization will all be consolidated, requiring a coordinated effort.
There are three key steps to the planning process:
- Determine how your SD-WAN solution will fit in your stack, including data center, security, and cloud.
- If there are major changes taking place in the area of security, they should be included in the SD-WAN deployment.
- Consider whether you have any external factors that could affect your SD-WAN deployment, such as adding new broadband or 5G circuits.
Planning an SD-WAN deployment with a lot of early considerations can prevent your project from stalling or failing. Contact us at eXemplify for more information about how to properly prepare for SD-WAN success.