Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is experiencing explosive growth, but before taking the leap to SD-WAN, there are a few items to consider. It’s wise to review some practical checks like making sure your customer is in a position to switch, and to know what qualifications to look for from a potential SD-WAN provider.
Am I in contract?
It may seem obvious, but people raring to get out the gate on the latest and greatest technology can forget they are midway through a contract. Locked speeds can take away the cost benefit of SD-WAN.
Frequently, SD-WAN providers are able to forego adding new MPLS at some locations while augmenting the network with a broadband or LTE circuit. The flexibility of redesigning a network is not possible when products and speeds are set in stone for the next two years.
What kind of security is offered by the SD-WAN provider?
While your customer may have faster access to their cloud-based applications with SD-WAN, making sure data is traveling securely is key. SD-WAN solutions have the ability to support multiple connection types, such as MPLS, frame relay and higher speed LTE wireless communications that may traverse public networks, so it is critical that end-to-end encrypted tunnels and virtual private networks (VPNs) are in place. It is also important to determine what protocols the provider has in place, and what their reaction would be in case of a security breach.
Are you willing to deal with a difficult deployment?
If you have anything such as a slow season during the year, try to plan your deployment timing to line up with it. Check if the provider will let you perform a pilot version or do a test roll out while staying on your legacy network. Once you roll out to all locations, any problems may have to be corrected several more times. This approach allows you to catch any errors before they are implemented across the board.
Try to start off with a hybrid deployment. Select a few sites experiencing network capacity issues or sites approaching contract expiration to maximize the deployment benefits, before rolling out a full solution. This will give you time to become familiar with the technology. Deployment is less overwhelming when done just a few sites at a time.
How much time do you spend maintaining your WAN today?
From traveling site to site to replacing equipment to managing updates across multiple locations, maintaining a WAN can be a constant job. SD-WAN enables centralized remote management of all locations. You can make changes from one specified central location that will roll out instantaneously to the other branches. You can rest assured knowing that the priority you assigned to the business critical applications at corporate will be matched at the other branches.
What other considerations have you had in thinking about making the move to SD-WAN? What obstacles did you not anticipate? Unanswered questions? We want to hear from you. As a Verizon Platinum Partner, eXemplify has access to the experts. Let’s talk!