Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) has emerged as one of the most in-demand enterprise communications solutions on the market. What started out as an emerging trend a few years ago has quickly reached mainstream popularity, and the technology is now a household name among business leaders who are looking to use it to connect and manage disparate enterprise networks.
SD-WAN has many benefits. First and foremost, SD-WAN allows IT administrators to establish greater control and agility across the network. It also improves stability and performance for critical applications. And it can lead to a significant reduction in operating costs.
As such, interest in SD-WAN is rapidly growing, with 61 percent of companies planning to deploy SD-WAN in the near future; 18 percent said they currently have an SD-WAN deployment underway; 15 percent have already deployed SD-WAN; and just 6 percent said they do not intend to deploy SD-WAN any time soon.
This begs the question: How do you actually get started with SD-WAN? The process can seem daunting for enterprises with aging legacy networks. The truth, though, is that getting started with SD-WAN is not as hard as it seems.
Here are five preliminary steps that you can take to get started using SD-WAN:
Step 1: Map Your Global Network
Before you make any changes to your existing WAN, it’s important to first have a thorough understanding of your existing infrastructure across all of your remote locations.
Map out your global network thoroughly, so that you can have a starting point. The last thing you want to do is start ripping and replacing equipment without thinking about the larger implications it will have on the network as a whole. Round up your global network administrators, and make sure everyone is aligned before moving forward.
Step 2: Prioritize Your Remote Locations
Once you have a clear understanding of how your global network, the next step is to prioritize each one of your remote sites based on average WAN usage. You may find that some locations will be a better fit for SD-WAN migration than others. For instance, a site with many end users accessing on-site apps may be less of a priority than a smaller network using critical apps. Avoid guesswork in this stage, and really spend some time getting to know how each network is operating to make the right decisions.
Step 3: Identify Critical Apps
After you have identified which locations are right for SD-WAN, the next step will be to take a hard look at the data-heavy voice and video applications that will be used at each location. This will provide the necessary information to help you set up your SD-WAN.
Step 4: Determine The Right Deployment Strategy
Next, you will have to decide which deployment model is right for your business. Some organizations take a do-it-yourself approach, and try to build and manage their own SD-WAN environments. The majority of organizations consult with third party SD-WAN providers offering on-premises, cloud and hybrid deployment models.
Outsourcing the process to a managed provider comes with many benefits. Oftentimes, providers will bundle SD-WAN with additional services. It’s also more cost-effective, and reliable to work with an SD-WAN provider.
Step 5: Shop Around For The Right Vendor
The SD-WAN market is very crowded, with many providers competing to offer cutting-edge SD-WAN services. Spend some time researching the market, so that you find a vendor that is right for your organization.