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SD-WAN, it’s a sliding scale


22 September 2016

Campbell Orr

Blogs by author: Campbell Orr, Head of Product Management for SD-WAN, BT.


When it comes to implementing SD-WAN, there’s lots to consider. But before enterprises embark on a transformation journey, what do they need to ask themselves?

The SD-WAN balancing act.

SD-WAN is coming, but just how quickly or slowly you implement it should be based on your business priorities. The potential benefits of this new technology are universal, but how and when you introduce it is a sliding scale that will be unique to you.

I’ve just attended the SD-WAN Summit in Paris, and the potential this technology holds is really exciting. However, there are just so many implications and challenges to consider before it can be introduced to your organisation. After all, you want to make sure you’re getting the best solution you can without negatively impacting any of your applications.

It really is a balancing act between risk and reward — and there are lots of things you need to think about.

A wealth of worries.

Among the things you’ll be wondering about when considering SD-WAN are: 

  • What applications do I need online all the time — and do all apps need to perform at the same level?
  • What percentage of my applications are hosted in the cloud — and how many would I like to be hosted?
  • What type of connectivity do I want to use to connect to the cloud?
  • What level of resiliency do I need?
  • How will I rate performance vs cost?
  • What are my expansion plans and will these be rolled out in-house or outsourced as a managed service?
  • Should I also be thinking about SDN, NFV, SD-WAN, hybrid networks and internet vs MPLS?

Here’s where to start.

It’s all quite overwhelming. And that can make it difficult to know where to begin your transformation journey. That’s why I’ve put together the four key considerations that can help you get started:

  1. Performance. You need the right mix of latency, bandwidth, quality of service and class of service for your data traffic and applications.
  2. Security. The ability to secure your network boundaries when connecting to third parties and cloud providers is fundamental. Traditionally, securing Private VPN-WAN architectures was relatively simple, but evolution to a hybrid WAN environment requires a complete re-think of your security perimeter (because of multiple internet points and remote access gateway needs). That’s why it’s so important to develop a new security strategy.
  3. Scale. You need to ensure your network extends and performs consistently across all sites — no matter where in the world they’re located, and regardless of whether you use a private or cloud base.
  4. Cost. You need the most economical solution to meet your needs — something that’s not over engineered, but appropriate to the application and site criticality. You can achieve this by increasing WAN utilisation, using the right size services, and offloading lower priority traffic (while protecting the latency on more critical time sensitive traffic). By combining traditional services with SD-WAN and NF, your overall network solution will bring you more value because it will require less set-up outlay, it’ll be faster to deploy and will respond and adapt more quickly.


The SD-WAN Summit.

This week, the SD-WAN Summit covered some really interesting points, including the importance of having the right platform and backup (should anything go wrong) for your needs.

Working with a strong service provider is a good way to mitigate the risks as you migrate, and it also makes sure that your solution has the right deployment and ongoing management. You don’t want to suddenly find that your applications aren’t performing well because you don’t have the expertise you need.

The future of networks is now.

There are lots of changes going on in the networking world, and lots of options. But it’s vital to make sure you have the essentials in place. You need to be confident that your network technology will work now and in the future. And that it’s secure, cost-effective and available as you need it.

Find out more about preparing for a virtual future with NFV, SDN and SD-WAN. We have lots of bold new developments set to hit the market, so keep an eye out — they’ll help you network like never before.