I’M GOING SD-WAN. How to Manage Your Network Transformation

Network TransformationWell, well, welcome aboard the SD-WAN convoy. But before you take a step further, you should know and do a few things. While it is true that SD-WAN makes your multilink network less complex, it is also true that SD-WAN can be referred to as a complex architecture if you or your IT team are not conversant with it. So, it is vital that you take your time to conduct necessary assessments and effect some changes before and after your network transformation project. 

It doesn’t matter if you are transitioning from WAN legacy to SD-WAN or going greenfield, the following will provide a basis for you to establish your connections successfully. 

  • Treat Each Of Your Locations As A Unique IT Environment. Then Assess It.

There are chances that the WAN connectivity available in your branches vary from one option to another; probably broadband, satellite, MPLS, Metro Ethernet or whichever is available. These connectivity options should be thoroughly evaluated based on their running costs, and the reliability of connectivity in the location.

Also, consider the applications needed in running daily tasks in each branch, where are they hosted? In the cloud or your enterprise data center? Are they particularly reliant on a WAN link, say broadband or MPLS? Do the routers or switches in the branches need to be replaced? 

Whatever question you have in this circle, the answer should border on surpassing existing performance with the intelligent application of two WAN links or more, and enhance scalability in the process. Keeping costs down, and meeting the connectivity requirements of each office in terms of throughput and latency. 

  • Consider Your Applications

It is pointless to deploy SD-WAN, only to find out that you cannot integrate it with your applications properly. During the network transformation planning stage, the applications in use in your enterprise should take a top row in the table of considerations. Take a look at protocol and application usage, what does it say about the bandwidth and routing needs of your company? With the company’s needs identified, you should go for an SD-WAN solution that easily recognizes and acts on your applications by set protocol.

In the same line, your applications should be categorized, and policies and QoS assigned accordingly, as well as have a knowledge of the links each application follows, and their end connection. With all these ascertained, it will be easier for your SD-WAN technology to do application-based routing through available links, based on the established policies.  

  • Get Your Websites Ready for the Transition

Consider your company sites and how to optimize them for SD-WAN. This takes us back to the consideration of applications; which applications do your sites run on? Which WAN links do they run on? Are they hosted in your data center or through a SaaS application? In most cases, it is better to combine all the branch offices to various gateways with interconnection and prioritize them for a smooth transition to SD-WAN and subsequent operations.

  • Consider Your SD-WAN Implementation Options

Basically, there are two options in view; the use of virtual server software or a set of SD-WAN hardware-based appliances. For most enterprises, it is easier to cut costs by upgrading existing hardware to support the SDN functionality that comes with SD-WANs. But, this is not applicable in most cases, as each location might have to be assessed to know which of the options will be best suited for it. For locations that already have virtual machines hosted, the use of virtual SD-WAN appliance might be the most cost-effective option to use.

  • It Is Time to Update Your Security Framework and Policies

While SD-WAN and other network transformation projects allow users to maximize the use of the public internet and offer a degree of security, there is also a chance of increased exposure to risks. It is crucial to boost your enterprise network’s security to provide the fortification needed to face the risks associated with the internet squarely.

Encryptions, network access policies, and firewalls are terms you should start getting used to. Your network traffic should be optimized and encrypted, while also setting up appropriate access policies in place for improved data and network security.

  • Choosing a Routing Protocol

If your enterprise is already running on a corporate LAN, the decision is easy; opt for the corporate LAN’s routing protocol as your SD-WAN routing protocol of choice. Before then, ensure that your SD-WAN is compatible with the protocol, as some of them are proprietary in nature, and if they don’t support your SD-WAN it will take a degree of complexity to blend the opposing protocols.

  • You Will Need an Effective Network Monitoring Tool

 

A good bit about SD-WAN is embedded in its ability to gather relevant data and report activities going on in the network, for network performance monitoring and management. A proper SD-WAN monitoring and management system will guide NetOps through the entire network transformation project – from identifying baseline performance (Day 0) – to verifying policies (Day 1) – to optimizing ongoing SD-WAN performance (Day 2+). It is not just enough to have SD-WAN deployed in your network; it is vital that it is under your control at all times. 

  • Run Pilot Tests

With the network design, mapping and other necessities put in place; it is time to conduct pilot tests in some company locations and on some applications. The aim of the pilot tests is to determine the efficiency of chosen SD-WAN strategies; to take note of encountered issues, determine if you are using the appropriate network access, and that set prioritization and optimization policies are supported during the tests. To achieve this, the KPIs should be monitored as each pilot test is being run.

From the results, you will know the appropriate measures to take to further improve the network to best suit your company objectives. Depending on the results, a pilot test might not be a one-time affair; the successful integration of SD-WAN into applications or a network in its entirety might take a few more technicalities than was expected. And that’s why it is all the more important to take time to carefully consider all necessities before going ahead with SD-WAN deployment project. The success of SD-WAN implementation into a network lies as much in the considerations taken during the network planning and design. Where necessary, add pressure, probably in the form of an external intrusion or overload of a link to get a view of how the network will perform in such situations. 

SD-WAN transition, while an exciting move for any enterprise, is a move that should be made under the supervision of well-trained professionals. LiveAction provides all the solution and support that any enterprise will ever need to make a successful network transition. Contact us now, to know how we can help you make an effortless SD-WAN transition.