The shift from on-premises to cloud-based applications and the increase in remote work has required IT leaders to rethink their approach to network architectures. Businesses want an easy way to control their networks for consistent performance and simplified management, especially when working with multiple locations or a distributed workforce.
With higher-capacity bandwidth, enhanced network visibility, centralized management and the ability to work with multiple connectivity options, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions are becoming more popular than ever.
It can be overwhelming to choose which software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) vendors are the best solution for your business. Here are some of the top considerations when evaluating managed SD-WAN providers to help guide your decision-making.
Freedom of Choice
SD-WAN providers should be service-agnostic. They should be able to:
- Work with any connectivity options you choose, including competitors.
- Overlay your existing infrastructure, regardless of vendor or equipment.
- Work with existing security platforms or have built-in security, such as next-generation firewall.
You should have the flexibility and freedom to integrate with local area network equipment and network service providers seamlessly. An SD-WAN vendor’s technology should quickly adapt to your evolving needs, with flexibility that enables you to choose services and equipment that best serve your requirements and budget, without having to work around vendor lock.
SD-WAN Transport Options
SD-WAN enables you to use any form of connectivity and prioritizes traffic for best performance. The best-SD-WAN providers can use LTE or broadband and still offer high availability and performance.
When choosing SD-WAN providers, you will want to ensure that their SD-WAN solution can overcome data transmission errors and avoid network congestion. SD-WAN vendor solutions should offer instant failover in case of interruption so that video calls or other high-demand applications can continue without any noticeable disruption.
You will want an SD-WAN vendor solution that provides continuous monitoring of applications and network performance and adapts to conditions as they change. Your SD-WAN solution should include automated routing, dynamic path selection and prioritization of network traffic for peak performance.
Besides carving out bandwidth and routing for mission-critical applications, you also want to be able to microsegment your network any way you want.
If you provide access to any part of your network to customers, suppliers or other business partners, you will want to employ network segmentation. Segmentation enables you to dynamically manage your internet connectivity while also giving you the ability to isolate traffic. If a third-party network or internal device becomes compromised, you will want the ability to quickly quarantine the device and prevent problems from spreading throughout your network.
Simplified Edge Architecture
The best-SD-WAN providers can simplify your edge architecture by eliminating legacy routers, optimization devices and firewalls, unifying these functions into a single platform for central management.
Not all SD-WAN solutions can handle all network functions from a centralized interface, some still require some manual programming on edge devices. A top consideration should be the ability to monitor and control everything from a single, centralized management platform. Administrators should be able to provision and deploy new services across sites to simplify implementation.
Service and Support
In evaluating SD-WAN providers, it is easy to overlook the service and support levels. You know how important it is – but every SD-WAN partner will also tell you how great they are. In reality, however, there are significant differences.
Whether you are deploying SD-WAN yourself or working with an SD-WAN managed service provider, you need to know that you can get service and support when you need it. Do not settle for a company that outsources its call center or support.
DIY, Co-Managed or Fully Managed SD-WAN
SD-WAN can be implemented in a few different ways. You can choose to do it yourself (DIY), contract with an SD-WAN provider to provide a managed service, or work directly with an SD-WAN partner to co-manage the system.
Although deploying and managing SD-WAN can be complex, extremely large enterprises with fully staffed IT teams and specialists are more likely to opt to do it themselves when deploying SD-WAN. Small and medium-sized businesses usually look to SD-WAN providers to help.
To do it yourself, you will need an IT team with deep expertise in application-specific programming and the knowledge to handle troubleshooting and changes. There is also a significant upfront investment.
Working with a fully managed SD-WAN solution minimizes the amount of maintenance and management your IT team will need to do. Your managed service provider will be responsible for end-to-end network management, including managing connectivity, making configuration changes, and supporting the rollout of new SD-WAN service locations.
Managed SD-WAN works on a subscription model, which spreads the cost of deployment across the length of the agreement and can reduce your upfront investment.
A co-managed SD-WAN solution lets you self-manage some aspects of the SD-WAN. For example, you may want to be able to adjust application quality-of-service or security policies, or provision new applications.
Choosing an SD-WAN Provider
Choosing an SD-WAN provider is an important decision. You will want to work with a partner that has experience designing, planning, deploying and managing complex and multilocation technology solutions.
To realize the full benefits of SD-WAN, you need the right partner to deliver on their promises. Contact LOGIX today to learn more.