Due to developments such as ever-increasing numbers of business applications competing for network resources, growing network traffic demands and enhanced network flexibility requirements, the networking needs of organisations both public and private are becoming more and more complex. In particular, the problems organisations are facing with digital transformation and migration of critical applications to the cloud cannot be solved with legacy enterprise WAN solutions.

SD-WAN has evolved to address those challenges.

Most organisations are by now aware of the benefits that SD WAN delivers but as it is a new and rapidly evolving technology and often outside many organisations’ expertise, the practicalities often put deploying a solution on hold.

The SD-WAN concept is simple in principle, i.e. deliver the optimum connectivity experience to sites, users and devices in accessing network resources and services unconstrained by access mode or location. However, successful SD-WAN project implementation throws up many challenges and gives rise to several considerations in deciding which products and service delivery models are best suited to an individual organisation’s business needs.

SD-WAN Adoption

While not universally applicable, SD-WAN can meet the changing requirement of most enterprise organisations as demands on the network grow. Key to a decision to adopt SD-WAN is a review of the business considerations that are driving the change and the focus should be on what problems and business outcomes is the SD-WAN platform expected to address. Considerations include:

  • What is the organisation structure and footprint – are there several branch offices, sites and remote users accessing network resources?
  • Is the business on or about to embark on a digital transformation?
  • Are business critical applications and services already in or migrating to the cloud and to what extent does the organisation take advantage of or plan to take advantage of SaaS based solutions
  • Are customer and internal network user experience improvement programmes being contemplated?

Answers to these and other business questions will form the initial basis for selecting the most appropriate SD-WAN technology solution and delivery model with key features already discussed in detail in a recent post here and summarised as follows:

  • Packet Recognition and Steering – the ability to recognise traffic on a per packet basis and to steer this traffic across the preferred underlay network connection using a set of predetermined criteria based on link performance and capacity
  • Enabling the network to react in real time to changes that may impact traffic and either redirect, balance or remediate on demand
  • Enabling active-active operation across multiple connections and maintaining availability even in the event of loss or serious degradation of service
  • Ability to implement a set of predetermined criteria, based on specific business policies, to enhance application performance and QoS / QoE
  • Ability to segment traffic on the network and apply policies based on profiles to ensure compliance
  • Cloud services integration – SD-WAN facilitates cloud adoption in different ways including optimised routing for SaaS, secure internet breakout for higher QoE for cloud hosted apps, tightly integrated IaaS based services via API and automated connectivity to cloud provider network services such as Azure Virtual WAN and AWS Transit Gateway
  • Robust Security – both built in and available through integrations with dedicated security providers and vendors
  • Comprehensive reporting tools delivering actionable insights relating to application performance, usage, security and troubleshooting

A cross referencing exercise between the business requirements and high level feature set will quickly help to identify the most appropriate solution for your organisation.

SD-WAN Deployment

There are many approaches to deployment and to operation of an SD-WAN and as you might expect, each has its own merits and by extension each is applicable in different ways to different organisations.

Considering the main use cases for SD-WAN deployment we can see that some such as branch network modernisation or WAN transport upgrades are best suited to an overall approach addressing the entire wide area network at one time. Others, such as Cloud Migration or Application performance assurance sometimes lend themselves to a partial approach with customers selecting a smaller number of strategic sites or locations and starting with those before moving to the wider network. The ability to deploy across part of the network but still gain the benefits for those locations is a key feature of SD-WAN and its ability to limit risk associated with network changes.

Deployment Model

Of equal importance to the SD-WAN platform functionality is the choice of deployment model with the two main options being either a managed SD-WAN or an in house or self-managed SD-WAN. Both approaches have their own merits but rarely are both equally suitable in a specific situation. Based on considerable industry experience, market knowledge and a comprehensive and ongoing evaluation of various SD-WAN solutions, Iricent has developed our SD-WAN capabilities and offerings to address the challenges faced and minimise the burden on both Service Providers and end user organisations when deploying SD-WAN.

Iricent’s SD-WAN and Managed SD-WAN (which is also available on a white label basis) solutions allow both enterprises and Service Providers to quickly address the issues related to adoption and deployment of SD-WAN and more importantly to minimise the time it takes to leverage the many and growing benefits of this technology. We will look closer at Managed and Self-Managed SD-WAN in a future post.

For more information on any of the above or SD-WAN in general, contact us at: info@iricent.com or on Twitter @Iricent