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Top 6 Things to Consider When Switching to SD-WAN

The MPLS WAN Blues

If you leave the office every evening with a sad melody stuck in your head, the culprit could be your MPLS WAN.

With quicker-than-ever industry shifts in technology and more businesses moving on up to the Cloud, a legacy infrastructure may not be the most efficient network setup for your company.

If MPLS frustrations have got you buying harmonicas and writing stanzas full of latency blues, jitter sorrows and poor man’s heartache, maybe it’s time to consider an SD-WAN solution.

Software-Defined WAN is the newest technology in WAN capability. It was designed to help prevent the dead end frustrations of yesteryear’s MPLS and AMP architectures by:

  • Lowering costs
  • Increasing agility to meet the more demanding connectivity of modern business networks
  • Keeping up with and taking advantage of Broadband innovations
  • Making a geographically-dispersed team more connected
  • Increasing usability and visibility into Cloud applications
  • Increasing network security

All of this may be enough to have your mental beat changing a note, but before hopping on the SD-WAN bandwagon, there are some things you and your team will need to consider.

Looking for specs on industry-leading SD-WAN solutions? Click here to download our Top SD-WAN Companies of 2016 Comparison Whitepaper today.

Top 6 Considerations for Companies Considering SD-WAN

1. Cost

We put cost first because this is usually the top concern for many of our CTC Technology clients looking into new network capabilities, and it’s a buzzword that typically surrounds SD-WAN conversations.

And the buzz on Technology Street is true: One of the top benefits of SD-WAN integration that companies see is OPEX and CAPEX savings.

Why would you see mega savings quickly when adopting SD-WAN onto your current MPLS network?

Simply put: Broadband is cheaper.

SLA’s are the advantage of MPLS, but many features of an in-house data center are outdated when so many apps are moving to the Cloud, and this type of network is costly.

You may pay $2,000 for a 10 Mb MPLS link when you could get 100 Mb/sec Broadband Internet access for less than $100.

SD-WAN solutions like Silver Peak’s Unity promise to cut administrative savings by up to 90 percent.

All those savings sound nice, don’t they? Let’s take a look at other considerations to see if this is the right shift for you or if The Notorious B.I.G.’s famous words “Mo Money, Mo Problems” ring true in the SD-WAN world.

2. Security

Runner up to cost? Security.

In our modern connected world, hacks are seemingly constant, and the last thing you want is for your employees’ or customers’ sensitive information to be leaked.

Security is also a top concern for many business leaders looking into SD-WAN. Taking information out of the data center and moving it off-premise, say to the Cloud, is a bit unnerving.

We understand your hesitation, but we’ve got good news.

Adopting an SD-WAN solution (full or hybrid) is actually proven to be more secure than sticking with MPLS solely. This is because SD-WAN allows your IT team to extend the security perimeter of your WAN from your branch to the Cloud and back.

To see the full range of how your network security will improve under an SD-WAN, read our previous post “How Secure is Software-Defined WAN?”

Here’s a quick rundown of how this new architecture will increase your security:

  • Encrypting network traffic
  • Segmenting your network
  • Providing a central provisioning system
  • Increasing network visibility and control
  • Optimizing performance
Looking for specs on industry-leading SD-WAN solutions? Click here to download our Top SD-WAN Companies of 2016 Comparison Whitepaper today.

3. Reliability & Control

SD-WAN, though currently experiencing its largest and quickest growth ever, has been around for a bit. Some problems outlined with the new technology are decreased app performance due to increasing Cloud traffic and decreased control of IT teams into applications.

As innovation is ever-present in the tech industry, new software has come out that is designed to combat these issues, but you want to be aware and understand that some shortcomings may exist with SD-WAN, as they do with any network.

Because moving your applications to a host means that a third-party is taking over many administrative tasks (for public Cloud migration), your IT team may lose some of its total control over the application.

However, many SD-WAN vendors are accounting for this by creating software that gives IT guys and gals full access to Cloud application performance, traffic and usage. One such solution is Silver Peak’s Unity, which unifies your Enterprise WAN with the Internet and public Cloud so that you can get the most out of Cloud computing.

Depending on geographic location and traffic in the Cloud, app performance can suffer at times, though this is always improving. But, you can do your part by holding your Cloud provider accountable on its end.

Consider incorporating an SLA into your negotiations to make sure that your host is held responsible if it doesn’t follow-through on promises, and be sure to do everything on your end to keep up with performance and end-user satisfaction.

4. Current Infrastructure

Transferring to a private or hybrid SD-WAN shouldn’t necessarily be done just because the market is growing tremendously and it seems to be the way all of the traffic is moving in 2016.

Each business is unique, and you need to consider how your current infrastructure setup is helping or hurting your overarching business goals.

If the hurtin’ column stacks up strongly against the helpin’, then it may be time to consider new network solutions. However, if there doesn’t seem to be much complaint about your current architecture, consider leaving it alone.

If you do decide SD-WAN is the way that your company needs to go, take a look at your applications to see if they qualify for Cloud migration. Consider the following:

  • How old are your applications and what technology/resources do they use?
  • How sensitive is the data kept in your application?
  • How much traffic travels to your app?
  • Are your apps performing fine without being in the Cloud?
  • Are your workloads mission-critical?

Due to compliance standards and other considerations, not all applications are suitable for public Cloud migration. However, you can consider a private or hybrid Cloud solution to reap financial and security benefits without having to move to the public sector.

5. Integration

SD-WAN acts as a virtual overlay on top of your existing MPLS network. This allows you the flexibility to enjoy the spoils of Broadband without uprooting your entire network. You can build it any way you’d like.

This means that you can decide to fully rely on SD-WAN or create a hybrid architecture, using an MPLS connection for some data traffic and an SD-WAN for others.

This, again, will depend on your current infrastructure, your company’s unique setup and your end goals.

The great news here is that a virtual SD-WAN allows you the flexibility to build your network for optimal connection while setting parameters that make you feel comfortable and secure.

6. Effects

Lastly, if all other considerations have pointed you to a “yes” vote for SD-WAN, consider what a migration will look like for your employees and end users.

As with any technology shift, there can be unforeseen costs and effects, and it may well take a little time to get used to any changes that take place.

An SD-WAN solution will take effect immediately and the software is easy to install so there should virtually be no big, altering events. But, it is smart to get a migration strategy in place just in case.

Analyze and decide how you would handle problems, such as:

  • Application downtime
  • Changes in end-user experience
  • Lessening responsibility for IT team
  • Negative effects for end users
  • What traffic to keep on MPLS and what to switch over to SD-WAN
Looking for specs on industry-leading SD-WAN solutions? Click here to download our Top SD-WAN Companies of 2016 Comparison Whitepaper today.

Let CTC Technologies Help You

At CTC Technologies, we specialize in curing your MPLS blues. Ditch the harmonica, and change your tune today by learning more about the great SD-WAN options available for your company.

A switch to or integration with SD-WAN can increase your network’s effectiveness, performance and security while cutting operational and capital costs on your end.

Our WAN experts would be happy to help you find the right network solution. Feel free to get in touch with us.

Helpful resources to get you started on your journey to SD-WAN: