For years, enterprises have leveraged Software-defined Wide Area Network (SDWAN) to streamline software and mobile connectivity from branch offices to the internet. But with many companies adopting remote working policies, SDWAN has evolved to become a means of cutting down costs related to MPLS connections and improving connectivity between various remote locations and the cloud.
In this post-pandemic era, SDWAN offers a more robust, enterprise-level connection that allows businesses to create a suite of software applications in various clouds, facilitating easy team collaborations from remote locations and easy access to critical applications, such as Office 365 and Zoom, in a secure, fast, dependable, and optimized network. The result: increased business efficiency, productivity, and user experience.
As its name suggests, a software-defined wide area network uses software to manage and streamline connectivity, communication, services, and management between various data centers and remote branches to the cloud. In simple terms, SDWAN decouples the control infrastructure and data architecture, enabling businesses to make changes to any single plane without interfering with other zoned traffic.
An SDWAN connection comprises a system of routers and virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE) that operate various software versions capable of handling enterprise management tools, such as security, policy, and network, based on a business needs and system configuration.
However, the biggest advantage of SDWAN deployment is that it enables small and mid-sized businesses to manage connections between different networks, including MPLS, LTE, and broadband. Another upside to SDWAN is that it isolates and partitions connection traffic within the WAN while ensuring data security.
As aforementioned, the chief benefit of SDWAN is improving data security in a WAN infrastructure. Today, many businesses leverage cloud-based solutions like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Office 365 to enable their teams to work remotely, creating loopholes for internal and external data breaches and loss.
What SDWAN does is that it enables companies to create traffic zones and securely channel the data to a centralized data center according to in-house security protocols. With SDWAN, you can incorporate a full suite of security applications like firewalls, URL filtering, IPS, malware protection, and cloud-based solutions into the WAN architecture to boost security. That’s a huge benefit that makes SDWAN lucrative and helpful to businesses in data-rich verticals, such as retail, finance, and healthcare.
If you plan to deploy SDWAN functionality, paying attention to a few critical factors is critical. It would also be best if you partnered with an outside consultant or a professional IT service company to get the best SDWAN infrastructure for your business.
Understand your needs; match them with the suitable vendor
Businesses deploy SDWAN functionality for various reasons. You need to know the need driving you to want to set up the system. For instance, if your primary need is security, find a vendor whose solutions are steeped in security features. Perhaps you are more concerned about software performance. In that case, a provider seasoned in WAN optimization is the best option. If your enterprise has grown with multiple branches that need SDWAN deployment, choosing managed services is the best move.
SDWAN installation costs vary based on your approach. If you opt for a DIY deployment, remember you’ll have to cater to capital costs, licensing, and day-to-day maintenance. The price often increases if you have several locations because you’ll have to procure WAN traffic and hardware for each location. To reduce the costs of installing SDWAN, find a trusted provider. Most of them have the required hardware and can provide managed or co-managed interconnections between branch offices and enterprise-level clouds. That means the managed service provider (MSP) will handle the installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance. That’s a more affordable option, which also frees up your IT team to deal with other business-driven tasks.
Do you have an existing vendor? Leverage the relationship for a smooth switch to SDWAN
If you think your current vendor is the best provider for your business, you can leverage the relationship you already have to make your transition to SDWAN. Having understood your motive to transition to SDWAN functionality, they can easily work with you to perform software upgrades on your branches’ gear to incorporate the connection. Alternatively, you can inform your incumbent MPLS vendor that you’re thinking of moving on to another SDWAN provider. The chances are that they might counter your thought by implementing a fully managed SDWAN service.
Find an SDWAN service that integrates with your existing infrastructure
When asking yourself how an SDWAN network will integrate with your existing system, you need to look at it from two perspectives. First, ask yourself: Does my chosen vendor provide SDWAN functionality due to the acquisition of another company? That provokes another concern – how compatible are the two? If so, does it affect pricing? Both an all-in-one service and separated offerings have cost implications, and you need to choose based on your budget and company needs.
The second question is: how does the SDWAN function integrate with my existing architecture? An excellent SDWAN service is one that fits perfectly to your enterprise infrastructure, control systems, software management, security systems, and monitoring features. If you plan to upgrade the existing network or make changes, such as incorporating Zero Trust accessibility or software-defined networking, understand the ease of performing these upgrades. The same applies if the SDWAN service provides cloud-based solutions. It should easily mesh into your existing network.
SDWAN deployment helps businesses optimize network connection with a high emphasis on security and easy integration of networks. The migration from the conventional office setting to remote work has made SDWAN implementation a need than an option. Still, the vendor you choose when shopping for SDWAN functionality plays a critical role in the overall performance. With the above SDWAN buying tips, you can easily know what points to consider when consulting with a potential provider.
If you’re in the market searching for SDWAN solutions for your enterprise, search no further than Coleman Technologies. Contact us today; we offer enterprise-class managed solutions to help your business grow.
Thanks to Guy Baroan, a trusted IT service professional in New Jersey for this help in researching this content.