4 Ways to Maximize Benefits from Your SD-WAN Infrastructure
Jun 17, 2020

4 Ways to Maximize Benefits from Your SD-WAN Infrastructure


Growing businesses across industries are increasingly opting for SD-WAN services to improve their connectivity between their branches and data centers dispersed across geographical locations. However, the question remains: is implementing SD-WAN within an organization enough to harvest all its benefits?

One of the common misconceptions of many businesses is that just by replacing MPLS circuits by the Internet, the overall networking costs can be brought down. It is also a common notion that just by incorporating SD-WAN, all service aspects such as business agility can be improved. While this is not totally true, it does make sense for corporations to explore SD-WAN. What they however need, is to look at ways to maximize the benefits of their SD-WANs. Here are four ways to do that:

  1. Reduce costs by creating a hybrid WAN using MPLS and Internet. An organization may expect to replace all its MPLS circuits with Internet in order to reduce networking costs. However, according to Gartner, public Internet across various parts of the world is not necessarily reliable. Sometimes, using a low-cost Internet connection to achieve global connectivity can lead to 10 times longer application response time. Business-grade Internet connections can sometimes be as expensive as MPLS and still not provide the same performance as an MPLS connection. By using low-cost consumer Internet, you may achieve cost savings but your application performance will take a hit. Hence, it is a better option to use a combination of MPLS and Internet to create a hybrid WAN to optimize expenses.
  2. Select providers that offer a broad range of self-service configuration options to ensure optimum service agility. The basic problem with traditional WAN services is that they are rigid and it takes a long time to make changes in the configuration. Moreover, only a few service providers have introduced self-service capabilities. On the other hand, several managed SD-WAN service providers are introducing various degrees of management that support new areas of operational agility. Networking teams should consider using some of these configurations.​ Having said that, as you adopt some of these self-service capabilities, you won’t have a fully managed service anymore. Moreover, service providers will re-evaluate the service levels and responsibilities they may offer. Hence, before taking this route, you should check with the providers regarding the guaranteed service levels and provider responsibilities for all the aspects of self-service configurations and choose judiciously between self-service capable providers and fully managed providers as to which model suits you.
  3. Ask for deeper reporting and analytics capabilities from the service provider. Most managed WAN services offer only basic reporting capabilities while advanced reporting comes as an additional service. On the contrary, SD-WAN products come with the support of user and application-level reporting capabilities that go beyond traditional routers. SD-WAN managed service providers are coming up with greater visibility and richer reporting as part of their services. Hence, companies and IT teams that need richer and robust insights should keep in mind these requirements as part of their service provider selection and negotiation process.
  4. Let negotiations be based on improving operational performance metrics than product capabilities. As mentioned earlier, traditional WAN services take too long to roll out, especially in a new branch or a data center. One of the reasons for the popularity of SD-WAN is that it boasts of agile site connectivity. However, it does not always address the fundamental limitation of connectivity services, especially if the site needs wired access services as it requires time. While the implementation of a 4G/LTE internet connectivity takes a shorter duration, it has a lower bandwidth than fiber and lower quality of service (QoS). Moreover, for large sites and critical applications, 4G/LTE can only be an interim primary connection. Hence, in order to get a faster wired site connectivity and to achieve site ability, you should identify service providers who can provide acceptable operational metrics.

To conclude, if you are planning to make a switch from traditional WAN to SD-WAN, you should definitely consider doing it. However, know that just replacing the hardware with software will not ensure a leap in business agility and a reduction in networking costs. Keep in mind the points mentioned above and select the right managed service provider who can help you extract the maximum benefits from your SD-WAN.