Today’s private networks are complex. The time and money involved in implementing and managing the modern WAN is not to be underestimated, so it should come as no surprise that, while SD-WAN permeates the trade papers, the decision to pull the trigger on undertaking an SD-WAN upgrade is one that is rife with hand-wringing and anxiety. The larger the network, the tougher the call, but a successful SD-WAN deployment is possible if you know where to start and what to look out for.
The Lay of the Land
A lot of things are changing in the digital world. Rapid technological advancements are shifting the way we interact with the people, places and companies around us. Thus, when planning an SD-WAN deployment, consider the future. Your company and your customers are going to change and your network needs to adapt. Find providers that are software-only and hardware agnostic. If you’re going to spend the time and money required to implement SD-WAN then you should invest in a solution that isn’t constrained by a single vendor.
Solve the Immediate Headaches First
Whichever SD-WAN solution you decide on, you’re going to be dealing with it for a long time, so make sure that you thoroughly vet the solution before taking the plunge. Test it out in situations you know will require a lot of your attention, but limit the breadth of the test. If you have a new SaaS solution, IoT deployment, or distributed application that your employees will need to access in the future, why not test this first? The future is cloudy for everyone. Even financial institutions are processing the majority of their transactions in the cloud according to Gartner. If your solution of choice can’t seamlessly integrate with multiple public and private cloud providers at scale, is it really the best solution you can find?
Trust No One
If Fox Mulder taught us anything it’s that trust is a risky bet. Security incidents are commonplace and top minds are telling us that zero trust is a requirement, not an option, for the networks of tomorrow. Does your favorite SD-WAN solution have the means to establish and uphold context specific perimeters? If it doesn’t, does it play nicely with software-defined perimeter solutions?
IHS forecasts that the IoT installed base will explode to over 75.4 billion devices by 2025. What are the chances your company ends up being part of that? Does the SD-WAN solution you’re considering ensure those endpoints can be managed as they grow, while being introduced to business-critical internal resources securely? Without a focus on zero trust, the answer is probably not.
The Carrier-Agnostic Imperative
When the executive team makes key decisions regarding expansion and M&A activity, are they considering the on-net footprint of the telco provider you just signed a three-year contract with? I doubt it. Should you bet your job on the hope that this same provider will able to give you affordable connectivity to every cloud solution you’re planning on leveraging over the next three Christmas holidays? If you did and made it through, you’d be lucky. Finding an SD-WAN solution that is carrier-agnostic should be a top priority because it is the only way to future-proof a network whose shape and demands are guaranteed to change.
Plan to Work & Work to Plan
By carefully considering the future, prototyping before reaching production, planning your defenses, and securing the value of being vendor agnostic, you can dip your toe into the SD-WAN pool and choose with confidence before diving into a solution that will need to grow and change at the same pace as your company, customers, and the rest of the world.