This growth has also resulted in the emergence of a complex SD-WAN vendor landscape. In the words of John Fruehe, an independent technology analyst, “Now that everyone is rushing into the space, the competition will heat up and you’ll see things start to consolidate, as every market does when there are too many choices.” For businesses, this has created a challenge: how do they make the right choice when deciding which SD-WAN vendor to go with?
Below, we’ve listed the ten most important considerations for your organization to keep in mind when choosing an SD-WAN vendor:
1. Managed SD-WAN
One of the first decisions that a business switching to SD-WAN will have to make is whether they want a DIY approach or a managed offering. The advantages of a fully-managed SD-WAN solution are that it should provide intelligent routing as standard and make fewer demands of your staff. Going with a managed SD-WAN provider means you don’t have to manage and monitor your own network - your vendor handles everything for you.
Finding the right SD-WAN vendor is highly dependent on the level of performance they can offer. A good vendor will improve your application performance - particularly for essential tools - which can deliver significant productivity benefits. SD-WAN can optimize your traffic flow by monitoring application and network performance, identifying opportunities for improvement wherever they arise.
In order to adapt and evolve with ongoing market developments, automation often plays a major role in SD-WAN performance. In addition to monitoring performance, SD-WAN vendors can provide optimized connectivity to SaaS solutions. For example, SD-WAN gateways offer a more automated and centralized SD-WAN performance by always selecting the optimal route for your traffic.
SD-WAN is still a relatively new technology, so shop around to ensure that you go with a vendor that has a deep level of expertise in the field. Talk extensively with your proposed vendor before you commit to a contract, working collaboratively on the next steps. Vendors should be able to optimally support you in the RUN phase of the SaaS lifecycle, with regular service meetings, network performance and security analysis, and suggestions for improvements.
In addition, working with any SD-WAN vendor should start with an assessment of your current needs and how they can be met. Make sure that, as well as expertise, your vendor also understands what your company wants from the SD-WAN solution.
The number of network security threats that exist today - from malware to DDoS attacks - means that robust cyber defenses are a key part of any SD-WAN deployment. But while SD-WAN is designed to enhance network control and security - that’s only if your vendor prioritizes it. While SD-WAN normally comes with features like data encryption, be sure that your vendor can integrate other tools like next-generation firewalls, anti-malware, IPS, CASB, and DLP to provide additional safeguards that not only protect your network today but future-proof it against the likely threats to come.
5. A growth plan
When assessing different SD-WAN vendors, consider whether they have the capability to match your own growth plans - and go beyond them. Innovation can strike at any point, so your SD-WAN vendor needs to have the ability to add capabilities that allow you to make the most of new opportunities. Don’t allow your SD-WAN vendor to be the thing that holds you back.
6. An end-to-end solution
When choosing an SD-WAN vendor, make sure you look for one that can also provide the underlay network that will underpin your SD-WAN infrastructure. Whether it includes MPLS, fiber, or wireless broadband, the physical underlay network is ultimately responsible for delivering packets of data across your network. SD-WAN vendors need to be able to manage the underlay if they want to unlock the full potential of SD-WAN.
7. Partnership ecosystem
As the SD-WAN market has grown, so has the number of solutions integrating with it. From security tools to cloud-based SaaS applications, the best SD-WAN vendors have a rich ecosystem of partners that they can leverage to source complementary solutions for your network such as the first mile, global backbone, and professional services.
The right partner ecosystem can also prove valuable when SD-WAN vendors are helping businesses to migrate from WAN to SD-WAN for the first time. Technology partners can enable SD-WAN vendors to offer flexible migration options and a deployment plan that suits your needs.
8. A focus on innovation
SD-WAN technology is set for continued evolution over the coming years, so choose a vendor that has a future-ready mindset. Consider how your chosen SD-WAN vendor has optimized cloud connectivity in the past, how they have mitigated network issues like bottlenecks and latency, and their plans for ongoing digital innovation.
9. Global reach
SD-WAN orchestration and management are likely to be handled remotely in the majority of cases, but when on-site support is required, you’ll be glad to be working with a vendor that has the capability or partner ecosystem able to provide in-person support wherever you are.
SD-WAN provides several cost benefits by eliminating legacy hardware and helping significantly reduce your capital expenditure. However, SD-WAN costs do vary by vendor, so be sure to factor this into your IT budget carefully.
If you want an SD-WAN vendor that meets your needs and is on-hand 24/7, why not get in touch with Expereo today?
Bob is a Senior Solution Engineer at Expereo with over 25 years of experience with consulting, designing, implementation and management of technology solutions. His areas of expertise include SASE, SD-WAN, Security, Internet, and Private Networks.More articles by Bob Kukic