Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is increasingly being implemented as a solution to cloud complexity and application performance challenges. Its ability to prioritize and segment traffic with better visibility and access to vendor autonomy makes it an attractive way to an infrastructure upgrade. With so many solutions on the market, enterprises need to take the important step of SD-WAN testing to be sure their preferred solution really is a good fit.
Just like any technology investment, there are plenty of features that can distract your enterprise from ensuring the claims match the needs of your applications. The only route to assurance is pre-rollout SD-WAN testing. A proof of concept allows you to deploy SD-WAN in a few locations to determine how it performs in your business setting.
It’s important to measure performance metrics and bandwidth usage before conducting testing so that you can provide a comparison to stakeholders and help shape realistic expectations for the benefits SD-WAN will provide. Utilize an active path testing tool to give you the benefit of emulating your applications through the use of real or synthetic transactions on your network. It can create a variety of traffic types, including application, real-time, and a bulk data transfer so you can fully evaluate the tool and measure the factors that are most meaningful to your organization.
Include these nine steps in your SD-WAN testing:
Failover: Determine the packet loss from applications when the failure of the primary link is forced. Measure the packet loss, as well as the length of time for the failover.
Delivery Reliability: Make note that latency across multiple parallel links will vary and may affect some applications differently than others. You need an SD-WAN solution that allows transparency in how you send and receive packets across a variety of pathways.
Traffic Segregation: Your SD-WAN system should allow you to segregate traffic over multiple paths. Applications with real-time requirements, like voice and video, will be directed to a low-latency pathway, while bulk data will be assigned a low-cost alternative.
Cost: Test your mission-critical applications across a low-cost path over the SD-WAN solution to see if application performance is acceptable. Make sure your testing includes a busy time of day to see if you may need multi-protocol label switching as part of your pathway mix.
Control: Examine the control and configuration of your potential SD-WAN solution, assessing how it performs across various elements. If it’s cloud-based, find out what happens if your connection to the cloud goes out. Utilize tools for troubleshooting and monitoring the network.
Optimization: If the SD-WAN solution you’re evaluating comes with WAN optimization, determine ways to test their performance in relation to your applications, particularly in its interaction with features like video and voice.
Throughput: Does the throughput meet the needs of remote users? You’ll need to examine whether bandwidth will be adequate for the users you need to support. If you must utilize multiple parallel links to reach sufficient throughput, make sure the links are a maximum of two different times in speed.
Internet Access: Evaluate not only the connectivity to the internet and how well it works, but also the security of that pathway.
Compiling Results: Deliver a summary of your results to your stakeholders and organization leaders. This helps set expectations for your infrastructure upgrade.SD-WAN testing is a critical step in your implementation process. For more information about creating a seamless selection and deployment process, contact us at eXemplify.