Blogs
Jul 11, 2018

Five questions you should ask your SD-WAN service provider

NETWORKS TEAM
MICROLAND

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is gaining much attention from organizations and IT teams today, owing to the numerous benefits they provide over traditional WAN architectures - such as agility and efficiency, lower bandwidth costs, scalability, security and centralized management.

With SD-WAN gaining popularity, there are several vendors offering different SD-WAN solutions. However, given that the market has just started growing, it is important to understand whether the solution offered fits your business challenges and needs. Here are five critical questions you should be asking your SD-WAN service provider before buying the solution.

1. How does the SD-WAN architecture relate to carrier network services?

Some solutions are designed for ready deployment while some are designed for cooperative use within an existing network. The solution can be open or proprietary. A solution can also be session-based or packet-based. Moreover, the network can be built using internet connection alone or with a combination of internet and MPLS VPNs. Hence, it is important to understand the solution architecture, its hardware/software components and how it will relate with your existing network. Else, you may end up buying something that won’t work for you.

2. What is the throughput of the solution?

It is really important to understand the solution’s throughput especially if your business needs to handle large amounts of data and has variable performance needs. One of the biggest advantages of the SD-WAN solution is that the network bandwidth can be scaled as per business needs without incurring excess bandwidth costs. Naturally, the solution your provider is offering should address this need. Try and understand if the solution can provide you bandwidth on demand as well as the ability to scale up or down to meet the changing performance requirements.

3. How does the solution detect congestion, failure and interruptions? And how does it address it?

A closely related question to the previous one, this one should answer if the solution handles any type of congestion or interruption. SD-WANs generally run on top of other services. If any of these services have a problem, it can be resolved in multiple ways depending on the underlying service.SD-WANs usually use internet with TCP/IP protocols as one of the transport mechanisms. IP networks react to failures at the TCP level. However, TCP runs not in SD-WAN boxes but on applications that could be anywhere in the facility. So, how does the solution detect such failures? Will it switch over to another connection without affecting some applications? These are a few things you must check with your solution provider.

4. How reliable is the solution when it comes to cloud and SaaS applications?

Today, most businesses are shifting their IT infrastructure, storage and applications to the cloud as it offers better security, efficiency and reduced complexity. In order to access, compute resources, storage or other SaaS applications, it is imperative that the network connectivity to the cloud is as reliable as that between premises and data centers. Hence, you should understand the reliability and performance of the offered solution for third party cloud services.

5. What are the security features of the solution?

One of the reasons SD-WAN is attractive is its security feature. However, considering that the architecture utilizes multiple transport mechanisms and each has its own security features, it is important to know whether the solution or service provider understands them. Some related questions you may want to understand from the provider are the security features, the level and type of security as well as how the solution secures and manages certain applications. It is also preferable to understand whether you need additional security features.

With the growth in SD-WAN’s popularity, there are several new solutions and vendors emerging in the market. However, these solutions vary greatly in their features. Moreover, all solutions may not fit with your existing network architecture. Hence, gaining a better understanding of the solution and vendor is critical to help you choose the right fit for your organization.

Disclaimer: The information and views set out in these blogs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Microland Ltd.