4 Tips to Painlessly Transition Your WAN to SD-WAN

WAN optimization at the forefront of your company’s IT concerns?

Most IT managers that our CTC Technologies experts speak with have some sort of issue with their current WAN architecture. Some of the biggest being:

  • Performance
  • Security
  • Cost
  • Latency
  • Visibility

A switch to an SD-WAN overlay is a suitable network solution that will combat many of these issues if your current architecture allows for it.

The benefit of a virtual SD-WAN overlay is that the transition or integration into your current network is fairly painless. However, there are some tips we have for you that will make the process even more seamless.

CTC Technologies’ Tips for SD-WAN Success

Any business change goes a little smoother when there is a strategy in place. You want to be sure that you know what to expect and that you prepare for the unexpected.

Let’s take a look at how to properly hone your strategy to ensure that you are making the best moves for your corporation. Being adequately prepared will allow you to take a comprehensive idea to your IT decision makers (and look good to your boss, which is a bonus!).

Tip 1: Analyze your current architecture for bumps and bruises.

No doubt if you’re even reading this then you have some frustrations stemming from your current WAN. If you are running MPLS, you may be wanting to lower your OPEX and CAPEX. If someone told you that SD-WAN can do that for you, then you heard correctly.

CTC Technologies can match you with an SD-WAN solution that will slash your expenses. By optimizing your current network, you could stand to spend ⅓  of your current budget.

But, before we head down solution highway, let’s take a look at your current architecture. Some questions you may want to ask before moving on to tip #2 are as follows:

  • What are the main problems you are experiencing? (Be succinct)
  • What is your current setup?

                     1. i.e. strictly MPLS? Any Internet? Any apps in the Cloud?

  • What is your end user experience like?
  • How clearly can you see into your network to fix problems that arise?
  • What kind of data are you transferring and how much of it?

                     1. Do you need dedicated bandwidth for certain types of data?

                     2. Are you replicating your data over long distances?

                      3. What kind of other business-critical data are you transferring?

  • How much money are you spending for how much storage?
  • How long has your current system been in place?
  • Where are you in your contract with your current WAN provider?
  • How much hardware do you have?
  • How is traffic moving along your network?
  • Do you store sensitive information about employees or end users?
  • How many branches and control operations do you have that need to be connected?

The idea here is to get a good, solid overview of your current network by defining what it is composed of, how well it works and where its problems lie.

You also want to outline future scenarios that could pose a problem to your current architecture like building new branches or growing traffic to your apps.

Not all networks are created the same. We’d love to tell you that SD-WAN capability is the best solution for everyone, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Depending on things like available budget (although SD-WAN is much cheaper than MPLS, the initial investment needs to be taken into consideration) and compliability to laws regarding sensitive information, a different solution could be right for you.

You will only be able to discern this by taking a good look at your current infrastructure before moving on.

Tip 2: Do your research: Find a network first-aid kit.

Know your current architecture’s bumps and bruises? Great. Get out a first-aid kit – metaphorically, of course.

This is the research phase. You can go the course alone or you can contact our SD-WAN virtuosos at CTC Technologies to get some help finding a vendor with the right SD-WAN package solution for you.

The idea here is to look around at the different vendors out there to be sure that you find the right one. The SD-WAN market used to be composed of only a few key players, but with the boom in popularity, this is no longer the case.

You can also find tons of information through Google or by calling companies and asking them questions directly. Because you already know your current network problems, you will be better equipped to make sure their solutions will fix your specific frustrations.

Tip 3: Decide on a solution.

Aware of all your options? Check.

Now it’s time to figure out which solution will bridge your current infrastructure (by easily integrating with or replacing it) with your end goal (through optimization).

As we mentioned above, you may come to find that SD-WAN overlay is not the best option for your company to reach its end goal. But never fear, there are several hybrid infrastructure options or other avenues of IT solutions that CTC can help you navigate and implement.

No software solution is one-size-fits-all so don’t be afraid to be creative and shop around to make sure that you have figured out the perfect option to seamlessly (ideally) bridge your current network with your end goal.

However, keep in mind that you don’t want any network downtime or information loss when deciding on a WAN solution. This is one of the benefits of SD-WAN: it’s as simple as plugging it in.

Tip 4: Strategize for any unforeseen costs.

Now that you have decided on a solution and vendor, you’re finished….

SD-WAN implementation is quick and simple. However if you’ve been in the IT world long, you know that unexpected circumstances are around every corner.

No matter how well-fit the solution or how confident you are with your vendor, it is best practice to prepare for any scenario. Some things to ponder and prep for would be:

  • Network downtime
  • Increased network traffic
  • Increased communication time between branches
  • Less workload for IT team
  • Decreased app performance
  • End-user experience – better, worse
  • Decreased visibility into applications
  • Vendor not holding up its end of the deal
  • Less network control for in-house team
  • SD-WAN not meeting compliability standards for sensitive information

Keep in mind, not all of these are “bad” scenarios. In some cases, you may need to prepare for your network running more efficiently.

It’s one thing to be ready on your end, but it’s a good idea to have an SLA or some form of agreement with your vendor to make sure they are held accountable for anything that goes awry that is out of your control.

Let CTC Technologies Help you Design Your Strategy

When shopping around the world of SD-WAN, different vendor pros and cons will stick out to you depending on what your network goals are and how your current network is configured. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Use our tips above to help you make a list of priority issues that you want addressed and goals that you want met. Then, consider how the strengths and weaknesses of each  SD-WAN vendor will play into your company’s future

If you need any help deciding which SD-WAN optimization is right for you, fill out our contact form, and one of CTC’s trusted SD-WAN experts will reach out to you as soon as possible. Need a faster response? Give us a call at 734.388.4194.

Interested in more vendor comparisons? Download our free whitepapers and get started today on your path toward reduced costs and increased performance with SD-WAN.

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