Many companies hoped that SD-WANs would magically solve all of their network problems. In practice, basic SD-WAN solutions have not met these requirements. Time to look back: what have we learned and what can we improve.
The phrase you’re always smarter afterward could not be more appropriate for SD-WANs. To sum up the past few years, cloud computing and digital transformation have prompted companies to rethink traditional WAN technology that no longer met their growing business needs. At this point, SD-WAN became a promising new technology.
SD-WAN was developed to solve the problem of hardware traffic management and to enable software-based provision from the cloud. Many initial SD-WAN deployments were spurred on by the desire to replace expensive multi-protocol label switching ( MPLS ). In the meantime, the hype surrounding SD-WAN has subsided and the first implementations are behind us. Now is the time to look back at what we have learned in recent years and what we can improve in 2020.
It’s Not About Cost Savings
Most companies choose SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement because this can reduce WAN costs. However, cost savings can vary depending on the SD-WAN. Therefore, it shouldn’t be the main reason for deploying the technology. Instead, companies should focus on improving network agility, such as enabling faster location provisioning and reducing configuration times. The main argument for SD-WAN is to make networks more efficient. If this is done successfully, the cost savings will automatically result.
WAN Optimization Is Required
Using techniques such as protocol acceleration, deduplication, compression, and caching, WAN optimization can increase bandwidth and reduce latency and packet loss. The original idea was that SD-WAN could eliminate the need for WAN optimization. However, experience has shown that some applications require additional performance. The technologies complement each other and do not replace each other. They should be used to address various problems.
Security Should Not Be Considered Afterward
SD-WAN offers many advantages. One of these is the use of broadband internet for traffic from enterprise applications. However, this approach also poses security risks because users and their local networks are exposed to the public Internet. Security should, therefore, be part of the SD-WAN implementation right from the start. This enables companies to achieve the desired application performance and protection by positioning security solutions near branches using services such as cloud-hosted security.
Visibility Is Critical To The Success Of SD-WAN
The transparency of application and data traffic makes guesswork in network management superfluous. The best time is the pre-deployment phase, where companies define and evaluate their existing and missing functions before implementing SD-WAN. Visibility in the form of daily monitoring and warnings continues to play an important role after deployment. Organizations that understand what is going on in their network are better prepared for performance problems and can use this knowledge to avoid future problems.
The Wireless WAN Is Not Yet Mature
SD-WAN connects users to applications, including broadband and 4G / LTE, through any transport route. For this reason, mobile connectivity is increasingly being integrated into SD-WAN solutions. While companies want to use 4G as a potential transportation alternative, particularly in remote locations, the resulting costs for pay-per-use 4G services are high. Besides, 4G can be problematic due to latency and bandwidth restrictions. At this point, patience is required until service providers provide 5G with better pricing options. Throughout 2020, we will see 5G rollouts and be able to focus more on wireless SD-WAN.