Adopting SD-WAN? Here’s What You Need to Know

In a world where global enterprise is dependent on shared data and optimized workflows, many companies are moving away from inflexible legacy WAN networks and towards an internet-centric model, resulting in the rapid adoption of SD-WAN

SD-WAN can significantly reduce costs, improve connectivity and have a big impact on end user productivity – but first you need to set it up. Many different components can affect your transition to SD-WAN and overall network performance, from conducting a thorough site survey to preparing adequate bandwidth. 

 Where should I start with SD-WAN?

Before you implement SD-WAN, it's important to know what the critical requirements for your business are. This includes any legacy applications that rely on a hub site or datacenter, and any SaaS or Cloud-based applications. By having a firm grasp of these business requirements, you can build a network design that makes the most sense for your user environment when transitioning from a legacy WAN network to SD-WAN and cloud applications.

What’s the best access technology to use?

SD-WAN technology is wonderful because it builds secure VPN tunnels over any access technology – whether that’s existing MPLS, broadband, DIA, or even 4G/5G cellular connectivity. SD-WAN helps you leverage multiple access options to better improve site reliability and user experience. You can use whichever access technology best suits your business model, or even combine various technologies to create a safety net and reduce downtime.

How do you prepare a site for SD-WAN deployment?

Site readiness is critical for successful deployment. Like any internet based service, a site needs to be able to receive both internet access lines and the SD-WAN router(s). This might include physical requirements such adequate power, a place to rack and stack equipment, patch cords, and more. Ensure that the network LAN/WAN IP addresses and VLAN information needed for your configuration are accurate.  

How long will it take to deploy SD-WAN? 

Every SD-WAN deployment will vary depending on the customer’s needs and applications. Design sessions and turnup schedules dictate the length of time it takes for a project to complete, from start to finish. Once all these elements are agreed upon – and provisioning is underway – then testing and turnup for new greenfield deployments can take a few hours or less (assuming underlay access and SD-WAN router are already onsite). However, sites with complex migration or existing topologies may take many hours to complete.  

How do you judge the amount of bandwidth needed from carriers?

Your bandwidth needs will typically depend on the existing size of circuits in use, and how much forecast in user growth is expected. Commodity internet access is usually cheaper than MPLS, so most SD-WAN customers will benefit from larger internet circuits that can carry increased amounts of traffic. You would also benefit from more direct access to SaaS and Cloud providers through local Internet breakouts.

How should I approach SD-WAN security?

Security is always important in SD-WAN design. Although SD-WAN tunneled traffic is highly encrypted, a security solution is still required anytime you allow users to access the Internet directly from a site. An on-premise or a Cloud-based firewall solution will keep your users, and their traffic to the Internet, as secure as possible.

Are there any errors common to SD-WAN? How can they be avoided?

For all its benefits, SD-WAN still needs reliable Internet access to run smoothly, regardless of the access type. Be careful not to overlook this fundamental component of switching to SD-WAN.Many organizations assume that simple broadband circuits are enough for their needs, and sometimes that’s true. However, a high quality underlay is needed if your business is dependent on Cloud connectivity – especially real-time voice or video applications. Although SD-WAN has numerous mitigation techniques to improve the user experience, it all begins with reliable Internet access. 

How can I best optimize SD-WAN connectivity?

Once underlay circuits are determined, then traffic steering policies, QoS, application routing, and SaaS optimization techniques can be used to further enhance SD-WAN performance. These are all parts of your typical SD-WAN deployment, ensuring the highest quality of service. Outside of these techniques, Expereo has developed a Cloud Acceleration solution that executes thousands of tests per minute, choosing the best routing path available to improve your network connection. Optimizing SD-WAN in this way will result in faster downloads/uploads of files, uninterrupted access to cloud applications, and vastly improved employee productivity.

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