A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a virtual architecture that allows enterprises to leverage various transport services such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), dedicated internet and broadband internet services to securely connect users to applications.
Deploying SD-WAN for your organization can significantly improve efficiency by running on top of your existing infrastructure. Here are just some of the top-line benefits:
- Performance – consistent application performance and quality of service across the entire network.
- Control – centralized management of all application and data running in the WAN.
- Security – secure and segmented applications and WAN traffic.
- Flexibility – use multiple internet services and add or switch services easily.
It is no wonder that the SD-WAN business segment is expected to grow from a $1.9 billion market in 2020 to $8.4 billion by 2025.
Building an SD-WAN network starts with gathering key stakeholders and identifying business requirements so that you can design a system that will help you meet your business goals.
Understand Your Business Goals
The first step in building an SD-WAN network is to evaluate your reasons for moving to a new architecture.
A recent Frost & Sullivan study revealed the top three reasons that organizations are typically adopting SD-WAN:
- Ensure 24/7 year-round resiliency and business continuity for networks and applications.
- Enforce security policies for applications and users across business locations.
- Achieve optimal WAN and application performance.
Companies also rated provisioning new locations, adapting security controls and centralizing management high on their list.
While your goals may be slightly different, it is important to understand how SD-WAN can improve your business as you design your system.
Define Your SD-WAN Network Approach
You have choices in how you design and implement your SD-WAN network. You can choose to do it yourself (DIY), outsource design and installation, or opt for an SD-WAN managed service provider (MSP).
With the DIY approach, you have total control over everything, but also the responsibility to manage and maintain everything as well. There is a significant upfront cost to deploying the hardware needed at each location, and you will need an experienced IT team.
An SD-WAN MSP can handle setup and management for you. MSPs typically offer a subscription model that will keep the upfront costs down. Your MSP will monitor the system, take action if something goes wrong, and handle routine maintenance.
A third option is a hybrid of the two. In a co-managed SD-WAN network your MSP does the heavy lifting, but you retain the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments or modifications to the service.
In any case, you will need to plan your how you want to deploy your SD-WAN solution, while also considering connectivity and security options.
Select Your Connectivity Options
There are two options for SD-WAN network connectivity:
- Private, such as MPLS or Ethernet.
- Public, such as dedicated internet or broadband.
Businesses approach this differently. Many take advantage of the advanced routing and traffic prioritization that SD-WAN provides to use a combination of services. For example, mission-critical and sensitive data might route through private networks, while other traffic is encrypted and sent through the public internet. This approach can help manage costs by moving some traffic to more affordable internet connections.
Having multiple connectivity options also provides redundancy to limit service interruptions.
Decide on Security Options
An SD-WAN provides more options to better manage your security. With SD-WAN, you can consistently enforce security policies across the WAN. You can also set granular security policies for each application across your entire organization. Microsegmentation enables you to carve out traffic both internally and what flows into your network.
You have choices when it comes to additional security protocols for your SD-WAN network. While SD-WAN should work with your existing security solution, experts recommend working with SD-WAN companies that also provide an overarching security solution. Adding SD-WAN can significantly change the design of your overall network, so you will want to make sure that you have the best available security to protect your organization.
Choosing SD-WAN Companies
The growing number of remote workers, implementation of new applications and continuing propagation of network security threats will only accelerate the need for a robust, secure network architecture. Selecting the right SD-WAN provider will help you simplify WAN management and increase network performance, security, reliability and agility.
When evaluating SD-WAN companies, it is important that you do your due diligence. You need an SD-WAN provider with deep expertise in internet connectivity that also provides exceptional customer service.
You can optimize an essential component of running your business with SD-WAN, but you must work with someone you can trust. Contact LOGIX today to learn more.