Tuesday, November 29, 2022
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Seven Steps of SD-WAN Implementation

Organizations that preferred the traditional model for remote working had to backhaul traffic from their branch offices to their primary data center installed at their head office for inspection. 

Even when it may help the organization to ensure malware-free traffic, rerouting traffic wastes bandwidth and adds latency into the network that impairs the cloud application’s performance. 

Improving the network’s performance is essential to maintain productivity and user experience as remote employees use cloud applications to complete daily tasks. Therefore, you need to implement a Software Defined Wide Area Network that is a part of a SASE solution. SD-WAN ensures consistent application performance and network resilience while automating traffic that aligns with the organization’s business needs. 

Why Should Organizations Move to SD-WAN? 

Remote working has changed how organizations need to protect their network. The increased reliance on cloud and SaaS applications has removed the need to connect to an in-house data center. Therefore, the traditional WAN is not suitable for managing a remote workforce. 

SD-WAN allows organizations to simplify their WAN architecture, lower costs, improve bandwidth efficiency, and seamlessly integrate with cloud applications. Organizations should move to SD-WAN architecture because they can improve their business productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability from better application performance. 

What’s the Difference Between a Traditional Model and SD-WAN? 

The traditional conventional router-dependent model distributes control functions and security policies by routing traffic based on TCP/IP addresses and ACLs. Therefore, it’s rigid, complex, inefficient, and has compatibility issues with the cloud. The traditional model also has a poor user experience, resulting in a loss of productivity. 

An SD-WAN makes it easier for organizations to migrate to the cloud and deliver exceptional quality of experience to their users. SD-WAN uses software to identify applications intelligently to route the traffic across an organization’s WAN. All endpoints receive the appropriate quality of service and security policy enforcement as per the company’s requirement

SD-WAN facilitates secure local Internet breakout from IaaS and SaaS applications from different branches while providing the highest level of cloud performance and actively protecting the enterprise from threats. It can overcome packet loss, latency, and jitter challenges to maintain optimal cloud application performance for your remote workers. 

SD-WAN Implementation 

If you want to implement SD-WAN in your organization, you can start your journey by:

° Collecting Requirements 

You need to start by collecting requirements for your organization’s SD-WAN architecture. Organizations most commonly prefer SD-WANs over MPLS WANs due to significant cost reduction, but the entire implementation may not bring significant cost benefits. Instead, your IT teams should consider it a method of improving your network’s resilience against bottlenecks and tightening network security for the remote workforce. 

SD-WAN adds agility to the network as the centralized management console reduces the need for acquiring numerous hardware that will manage different network elements. Since the staff can no longer interfere in network operation and maintenance, they can work on strategic initiatives to increase business volume. 

° Identifying Site Profiles 

You need to use functional specifications for identifying connectivity requirements, application traffic flows, quality of service, bandwidth, and network security. After that, you will identify the different site types within your network. However, you will need to keep the site types to a minimum to ensure network consistency, improve automation, troubleshoot issues, and reduce configuration complexity. 

Your IT team can sort sites into different categories that include: 

  • Offices that require video conferencing and SaaS applications
  • Manufacturing units
  • Storage units
  • Engineering workshops that use large files, high bandwidth, and custom apps
  • Corporate data center that hosts cloud applications

° Selecting Proof of Concept Sites 

Next, you need to identify proof-of-concept sites to determine the circuit characteristics of these sites to create corresponding test circuits. However, it takes time to procure circuits, so the IT team should place circuit orders as soon as they identify and understand the links they need to order. 

Your IT should also evaluate carrier architectures, as some service providers oversubscribe users on their network infrastructure and have higher levels of packet loss. Remember that a smaller packet loss level can significantly reduce your cloud application’s performance. 

° Evaluating Products 

Now you should start a paper evaluation of potential products or service providers that can provide you with the necessary equipment to set up SD-WAN. Secure Access Service Edge is the most feasible option to set up remote working. Your team needs to be sure of the vendors or service providers they select to build your SD-WAN solution, as the protocols are proprietary and do not support interoperability. 

Comparing DIY and Managed Services

SD-WAN can be deployed as a do-it-yourself or managed service. However, you can opt for partially or fully managed services that depend on the resources and team members available for evaluation and implementation. If you’re looking for experienced people, processes, and technology to help you implement a DIY SD-WAN solution, try getting in touch with an MSP with experience in setting up SD-WANs. 

Testing the Proof of Concept 

You can conduct POC testing even if the circuits are still in transit. You can cover numerous products as required with a small team of 2 to 3 members. Start by evaluating the network’s performance through traffic generators and monitoring capabilities. Next, you must create failure scenarios and evaluate the network’s management through alerting and troubleshooting mechanisms. 

You can easily test and adjust the system without affecting production applications while taking full advantage of the product’s automation systems that run evaluation tests. If possible, try to create tests for the production network as well because you need to ensure it can handle the working load of your organization without any bottlenecks.

Determining the SD-WAN Model 

Lastly, you will determine the appropriate deployment model available through your shortlisted vendors. You can choose to deploy hardware at every site or use virtual implementation by using a Virtual Machine Host. The deployment model will assist your IT teams in extending the POC from your lab to a low-risk production site. 

You can deploy the model to other POC sites if the tests are successful. In the final step, you need to validate the implementation of the deployment model. If it passes all necessary testing procedures, you can deploy the SD-WAN solution to cover your global network and improve your remote worker’s connectivity with your cloud apps. 

Conclusion

SD-WAN is essential for maintaining your global network, ensuring efficient bandwidth, and reducing latency.  Since traditional WAN models are ineffective in the age of preferred remote working, you need to ensure the availability of your cloud applications. A successful SD-WAN solution requires extensive research and development before deploying it over your traditional network infrastructure. 

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