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SD-WAN a checklist to get you started

25 September 2018

While some network and infrastructure managers are gambling on ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’, many others are actively trying to find ways to improve WAN functionality and service levels while lowering costs. Which camp do you fall into? If you’ve realised SD-WAN is an essential part of your WAN strategy, then you’ve likely already moved onto weighing up the pros and cons. 

With new, sophisticated solutions in the market where service providers integrate additional services from the same box, the comparison is no longer just between - remain with existing architecture or adopt SD-WAN. The decision now includes the complexity of whether to manage in-house or work with a managed service partner, and if it’s the latter, who offers the best fit for your business. Just what are the key things you should be looking for?

It’s essential to bottom out the risks and pitfalls and to simplify things, we’ve developed a checklist of ten crucial points to think about when considering to upgrade your WAN technology to SD-WAN:

          1. What bottom line benefit is your business expecting? How does the solution reduce your                   Capex and Opex costs now and in the long term?

          2. What’s the speed of new deployments? If your provider is offering a hybrid model, you’ll still               need to accommodate the 3-month lead time for traditional connectivity. 

          3. Which carriers do they work with? Does this match your footprint requirements? 

          4. Does the solution simply mirror traffic over multiple links or can all WAN links carry production           traffic?

          5. Will they assist with a long-term traffic management policy that’s aligned to your business                   priorities?

          6. What multi-layer security is provided? Does this include encryption, authentication,                            segmentation and service chaining?

          7. Does the provider partner with experienced, certified experts who have proven expertise                   deploying SD-WANs to organisations like yours?

          8. How comprehensive is the solution? Does it cover all your applications on all networks?

          9. What are the service levels and how are these reported? Does this match your business                   needs?

          10. How will the deployment impact on your in-house team? Can you choose from managed,                  self-managed, or co-managed service design, aligned to the internal capability within your IT                  team?


These will help stimulate your internal discussions and help you refine your requirement. It’s also good to know that almost all of today’s SD-WAN solutions support dynamic path selection from multiple WAN services including MPLS and broadband Internet. They also offer centralised provisioning to increase IT efficiency and zero-touch provisioning to enable rapid deployment. But, performance-driven SD-WANs significantly improve application performance and Quality of Service (QoS) compared to other SD-WAN offerings. When evaluating SD-WAN, look for a solution that provides more options for IT while saving both Capex and Opex and improving the performance of the WAN.

If your existing WAN network is holding you back, and you’re frustrated by MPLS bandwidth constraints, not to mention eye-watering costs, then SD-WAN could be the game-changer your business needs. But before making your decision, download our Buyers Guide to help you build your business case. 


Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash resized