Connecting branch offices to applications hosted in the cloud can be challenging. Traditional WANs based on legacy routers require backhauling data to a central hub or data center, which increases cost and can cause performance issues.
SD-WAN offers a more straightforward way to optimize WAN connectivity. It automatically steers traffic over the best path in real-time and can support a mix of transport services, including MPLS, broadband internet, and LTE.
When evaluating an SD WAN servicing company, moving beyond a checklist of features is vital. The best SD-WAN-as-a-service solutions deliver value, ease of use, and scalability to improve business productivity and reduce costs.
Today’s IT teams are overwhelmed with navigating complex cloud environments, launching and scaling digital transformation efforts, and supporting remote and hybrid employees. As a result, they turn to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to help them increase productivity and ensure application reliability and performance.
Unlike legacy WAN solutions, SD-WAN allows multiple transport options, including MPLS, wireless, broadband Internet, and virtual private network (VPN) for secure connectivity to headquarters and branch offices. It helps lower networking costs while improving performance and resiliency.
It also simplifies WAN architecture by automating traffic steering in an application-driven manner. It enables business agility and a high-quality user experience while delivering reliable performance and eliminating costly infrastructure upgrades and outages.
Typically, an SD-WAN uses an overlay network to connect and extend enterprise networks over multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), wireless, broadband, virtual private networks (VPNs), and the internet to give remote and branch locations access to corporate applications, services, and resources. It monitors WAN connections and manages traffic to maintain high speeds and optimize connectivity, allowing the business to work regardless of location.
A vital factor to consider when evaluating an SD-WAN servicing provider is scalability. A managed SD-WAN service should quickly expand its footprint across your network with minimal impact on performance or the budget. It enables you to adjust and adapt your network as the business grows or changes.
It is also crucial to consider how simple it will be to scale your network to accommodate a new acquisition or change in staff technology. A trustworthy SD-WAN servicing supplier will have several strategies for these adjustments, such as utilizing middle-mile network points of presence and peering with numerous networks.
Traditionally, companies use MPLS connections for site-to-site connectivity and to connect to cloud resources and the core network. Resolving the issue takes a long time when those connections go down and prevent employees from accessing critical applications.
SD-WAN provides a flexible and efficient WAN architecture that is more cost-effective than MPLS and more reliable. Reducing latency, providing excellent reliability and bandwidth efficiency, and routing traffic in an application-driven manner based on business intent helps increase productivity and customer satisfaction while reducing IT costs.
A well-managed service provider should be able to support multiple types of links, including multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), broadband, wireless, and virtual private networks (VPNs), as well as a global footprint with SLAs for connectivity and a repair time for customer-premise equipment (CPE). The ability to support a mix of transports and providers is important because it gives organizations flexibility and options when deploying their WAN.
It is also essential to find a service provider with deep domain expertise and best-in-class QA processes, Lawson adds, as the software behind an SD-WAN can have bugs that require quick fixes. A quality assurance arm can ensure that the solution works as intended before it goes into production, minimizing downtime.
Security should be your top priority when choosing an SD-WAN servicing provider in a world where more employees work from home or remote locations. Look for a service that delivers rich end-to-end visibility and analytics and the ability to integrate with a managed detection and response solution (SIEM) to help protect your organization from attacks expected to inflict $6 trillion in damages by 2021.
In addition to ensuring consistent application performance and resiliency, an SD-WAN can automatically steer traffic securely and intelligently across the WAN and directly to SaaS or IaaS providers. It reduces the attack surface and improves network performance while lowering IT costs.
An advanced SD-WAN platform eliminates the need for dedicated hardware at each site by unifying all WAN edge network functions on a centralized management console. It simplifies branch WAN architecture, streamlines management, and enables rapid change to accommodate innovations globally across the infrastructure. Additionally, a centralized control function provides the ability to automate and monitor the performance of network services and troubleshoot problems with minimal disruption to users.
Using centralized and cloud-based management tools, SD-WAN reduces operational complexity while simplifying overall network configuration. It can dramatically reduce the time and stress it takes to resolve issues.
When choosing a managed SD-WAN service provider, find one with a good reputation for customer support and a commitment to a long-term partnership. Also, look for a service level agreement (SLA) that covers software deployment and packet loss.
A good managed SD-WAN service provider will work with you to help design and build a network that meets your organization’s needs. They will also be able to provide you with multiple transport options to use on your network. It is essential because it prevents you from being dependent on MPLS for all your underlay circuits. If you are a multinational company, you want a provider that has a global reach. You should also ensure the managed SD-WAN service provider has an excellent peering relationship. You can check this by looking at their peering status. However, it is also best to double-check these peering relationships with the provider.