According to Gartner, Software Defined – Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) does the following:

 “SD-WAN solutions provide a replacement for traditional WAN routers and are agnostic to WAN transport technologies. SD-WAN provides dynamic, policy-based, application path selection across multiple WAN connections and supports service chaining for additional services such as WAN optimization and firewalls.”

Software Defined – Wide Area Netowork addresses the challenging task of ensuring appropriate, quick access to company networks across increasingly diverse technology environments as well as keep up with the necessary regulatory compliance standards. Another key aspect for SD-WAN is the way it facilitates an entire migration of your organization into the cloud, as it moves traditionally on-prem resources into that space, not just your WAN.

Organizations typically used on-premises WAN solutions to manage firewalls and access policies. Nowadays as companies add more cloud services to their environments, the process of managing network traffic to access critical data is getting more complex.

Software Defined – Wide Area Networks help with Routing, WAN Optimization, Application Acceleration, Link Aggregation, Network-as-a-Service or M2M/IIoT Networking and their access permissions.

An SD-WAN solution should have all of the below values:

  • Ease of Deployment. Provisioning of new services in matter of hours.
  • Cost Reduction
  • Network Segmentation
  • Visibility and Centralized Management
  • Comprehensive Security for both hardware and software

While looking for an SD-WAN solution it is essential to keep a few things in mind.

As I’ve mentioned in numerous other solutions choosing articles, I think of the acronym F.U.N.D.S

Full Support for All Devices and policies:

While cost saving measures are crucial to efficiency, a Software Directed – Wide Area Network is just as important to your network integrity. As we move to a more at-home workforce, we need to ensure that the solutions we choose are flexible and scalable enough to fully cover them. The journey to the cloud can seem daunting, but SD-WAN can help facilitate it. Make sure the hardware, software, and services you use are compatible and work well with your SD-WAN solution. The idea is to increase efficiency, not slow down your network due to poor compatibility.

Understand the SD-WAN Solution:

There is a lot of confusion floating about the “SD-WAN” market. Understanding the more confusing parts could be the difference between a solution working best for your company or completely failing it. While you do not have to understand the technical side of how these SD-WAN products work, you should understand the limitations of the product and design a policy around those limitations. Knowing exactly what it is and what it does can help you maintain compliance and enhance employee access, as well as cost savings that come with both off-prem infrastructure and WAN improvement.

Not without a Demo:

How can you know that a solution can work for you if you do not test it out? The security infrastructure we employ for our organizations is as unique as a fingerprint for a person. You need to make sure that the solution works for you, is not redundant, and does not drain necessary resources. You can do this by testing it. Plain and simple. Go back to looking out how a roll out approach works. Make sure that the solution can handle your infrastructure and do what you need it to do. Testing an SD-WAN is crucial. If a solution doesn’t fit, much hassle can be involved in correcting issues.

Do your Research:

This idea is a pretty broad one. Do your research on…everything. Do your research on competitor solutions to the one you’re using/and or considering.  Do your research on your business hardware and business needs. What issues are you trying to solve? Understanding and researching every aspect of your SD-WAN solution is a great way to cut costs down the line from account compromises.

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is accurately defining a problem. For example. You’re not trying to solve networking issues, that will always be there. What you’re trying to solve is the occurrence rate of them affecting your organization.

Solicit the right questions:

By this time, you’ve done your research, understand the solutions, and tested it out. You should be able to solicit the right questions. Ask about limitations to device coverage. Look into how their “firewall” security enforces policies. Ask them about your specific software and hardware infrastructure. Inquire about how their solutions mitigate service outages and what does it do differently than the other solutions out there.

This is a crucial part of the process, and this is also most likely where you can save the most time, which in turn saves the most money.  

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