01 Jun Points to Consider When Looking for An SD-WAN Provider
SD-WAN, or “Software-Defined Wide Area Networking”, is one of the of the most important technologies in the communication landscape today. Growing at an accelerated rate of around 27.87% per year, the industry promises companies a convenient way to adapt to a new age of flexible, cloud-based interactions. By 2025, the SD-WAN market is already set to reach a value of $8.4 billion.
SD-WAN is a fundamental component of digital transformation for many businesses, as it allows them to keep pace with fluctuating customer demands, emerging market trends, and even a changing workforce. Where traditional network architectures have struggled with withstand the ever-increasing complexities of most digital transformation initiatives, SD-WAN stands strong.
Of course, just like any important investment for your business, the success of your SD-WAN strategy depends heavily on which company you choose to work in for development and implementation. There are a wide variety of companies in the networking and communications landscape now offering SD-WAN capabilities. So, how do you choose the right option for you?
Start By Understanding the Need for SD-WAN
Before diving head-first into a strategy for choosing the ideal SD-WAN provider, you first need to understand why this technology is so important to your business. SD-WAN isn’t just a new and trendy concept for business leaders; it’s an opportunity to connect to cloud platforms and software-focused strategies for success with greater reliability, speed, and efficiency.
One of the best ways to make sure you get the right results from your SD-WAN provider, is making sure you know what kind of goals you hope to achieve with your implementation from day one. Here are just some of the benefits you can work towards with SD-WAN:
- Enhanced performance: First and foremost, not all network traffic is the same in today’s business landscape. SD-WAN can be configured with dynamic protocols which prioritize business-critical traffic and essential services like VoIP, steering these connections through the most efficient route. This helps to reduce packet loss and latency issues.
- Security: Digital transformation can be a complex thing to embrace. While moving into new software and cloud-based environments can improve performance, it can also expose companies to significant security risks. If security is a specific focus of your SD-WAN implementation, you may want to look at managed services or SASE package solutions which come with access to security tools built-in.
- Greater flexibility: Organizations are increasingly adopting an everything-as-a-service approach to business, where the cloud and software applications are essential to success. SD-WAN allows for direct cloud access at the remote branch, reducing the need for backhauling traffic, and allowing for greater flexibility in the age of remote work.
- Reduced complexity: Digital transformation in any business environment can add additional layers of complexity to your network environment, leading to overwhelmed IT teams. SD-WAN creates a simple and centralized infrastructure where your teams can manage all of the technology in the same place, reducing the complexity issues. However, you’ll need to ensure the solution you choose takes your usability requirements into account.
- Reduced costs: If your company is one of the many deploying an increasing number of cloud-based applications, the amount of data travelling over your WAN environment may be increasing at an exponential rate, leading to higher operating costs. Fortunately, SDWAN can reduce this price tog by providing direct cloud access and reducing the amount of traffic moving through the backbone WAN.
What to Look for in Your SD-WAN Provider
Once you have a good understanding of what you can achieve with an SD-WAN solution, you can begin to think a little more carefully about the specific features and functionality you need from the companies you want to work with.
Start by asking yourself what kind of SD-WAN vendor you’re going to be looking for. There are a number of ways to work with SD-WAN leaders. You can simply access the support of a network or IT expert to implement your SD-WAN connections, or you can consider using a managed service provider who can help out with various aspects of keeping your SD-WAN service running smoothly.
A managed service provider can offer more guidance and handholding for companies that may not have the IT resources required in-house to constantly watch the performance of their connections and deal with any issues. You might even be able to access your SD-WAN services from a comprehensive UCaaS or CCaaS provider who also offers networking functionality.
Other points to consider include:
SD-WAN Architecture Options
A good SD-WAN platform should be able to completely replace all dedicated legacy routers, firewalls, and WAN devices by unifying everything you need into a comprehensive platform. One of the major benefits of switching from WAN to SD-WAN solutions is you can centrally manage all the different aspects of your network functions from a single environment.
However, some SD-WAN solutions will require more disparate management tools and systems than others, and certain offerings will only allow for configuration of basic functions at a centralized level. Think about how connected you want your architecture to be when choosing your vendor.
It’s also worth looking at the structure of your SD-WAN solution from a transportation level. Your new transformative technology should allow you to use any form of WAN transport, including low-cost consumer-grade broadband, without having to compromise on performance.
The performance of your SD-WAN network and the reliability of any applications running in this environment will have a direct impact on your company’s success with it’s new networking solution. A good vendor will be able to address performance quickly and easily, examining your environment and recommending bandwidth improvements as and when they’re needed.
SD-WAN solution providers should also be able to work with you to implement various unique configurations specific to your workforce. This could include offering features like application-aware routing – one of the most valuable capabilities provided by SD-WAN solutions today. Application aware routing tracks which applications are using which services and optimizes the most important traffic in your network.
If you choose to work with a managed service provider for your SD-WAN solution, you may be able to access additional monitoring and performance management from the vendor.
Visibility and Control
Full visibility into your networking environment is one of the most important things you can prioritize when upgrading to SD-WAN. You’ll need to be able to maintain an end-to-end view of all servers, applications, web-based solutions, and users to keep your team’s applications running smoothly.
A good SD-WAN vendor should be able to give you the visibility you need to adjust the performance of your network whenever you choose and optimize certain aspects of your network’s functionality. Some vendors can also provide reporting and analytics capabilities to help with tracking the long-term performance of your SD-WAN environment too.
Providing excellent visibility also gives you a boost from a security perspective. A central admin console where you can keep track of incoming and outgoing traffic in the network will give you more opportunities to protect your business. You’ll be able to set and change policies according to your compliance requirements and implement strategies for safety.
Extensibility and Growth
Just like many of the modern tools available to access in today’s digitally-transforming landscape, your SD-WAN solution should be ready to evolve at the same pace as your business. The marketplace is constantly changing, so it’s worth looking for a solution which can adapt to suit your changing needs over time.
This could mean implementing access to additional capabilities and tools, or simply leveraging further bandwidth opportunities to expand the potential of your network. You might even want to consider the additional features and capabilities SD-WAN vendors can sometimes offer. If you’re accessing your SD-WAN from a UC or IP provider, for instance, they might be able to help you build out a more comprehensive communication stack.
If your company is in the midst of an international or global expansion, you might also want to consider your SD-WAN’s approach to data management and orchestration ona global level. Network function virtualization could be a useful way to deploy services across a distributed network as your business grows, from a remote location.
Reputation and Customer Service
A commitment to excellent customer support and service should always be a consideration for any business choosing to work with a new vendor. Whether you’re investing in SD-WAN or CPaaS, you need to know you’re going to get the support you need when you need it most.
An ideal vendor will work with you from day one to determine what kind of network environment you need to implement, and which threats you might need to be aware of. Great vendors can even offer guarantees and uptime averages to provide additional peace of mind when you’re worried about the security and stability of your connection.
If you’re not sure about the level of service you can expect, you can always look up the name of your vendor online to check out any reviews, testimonials, or case studies provided by other major brands with a similar set of requirements to your own. Some vendors will even be able to share case studies with you directly.
As demand for flexible networking opportunities in a cloud-based landscape continues to grow, many brands are now looking into solutions which go beyond the basics of simple SD-WAN connectivity. Solutions like “SASE” or Secure Access Service Edge are becoming more popular, as a solution capable of embracing the benefits of SD-WAN with extra features.
If you want to unlock the functionality of SD-WAN, but you’d also like to access various new components like enhanced security capabilities and applications as part of the package, it might be worth looking for a vendor specializing in SASE instead.
You can also consider looking into a range of other deployment and provisioning options from different vendors, all with their own distinctive unique features and benefits to offer. As SD-WAN becomes a more competitive market, we’re likely to see a range of solutions available from modern companies.
Why it’s Crucial to Choose the Right SD-WAN Provider
Finding the right provider or vendor on new tools and technology for your business digital transformation initiative can be a daunting experience. In a growing marketplace like SD-WAN, the number of available companies is constantly expanding, leading to even more choice and confusion for many modern companies.
However, it’s well worth making the effort to invest the right amount of time into finding the right solution. According to studies, the right SD-WAN implementation strategy can lead to 80% increases in bandwidth efficiency, a minimum 85% improvement in network throughput, and even 98% faster failover times.
Choosing the right SD-WAN vendor doesn’t just mean you can take the next step in your connectivity transformation initiative. It also means you can access the guidance and support you need to invest in the technology most likely to give you the best return on your investment. Many leading SD-WAN providers will offer consultations and advice to help you determine what kind of purchases you may need to make to get the most out of SD-WAN.
Finding the perfect vendor for your SD-WAN solution means you can create the perfect secure foundation for your communication digital transformation initiative and avoid wasting time on trying to find fixes and solutions later on. On top of all that, you also get some essential peace of mind.
Choose the Right SD-WAN Vendor
As with most things in the world of digital technology, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to choosing the right SD-WAN vendor. There are various great options out there today, all with their own unique benefits to offer. The best thing you can do is consider your needs carefully and follow the steps above to lead you towards the most effective partner.
Remember, if you need a little extra help choosing an SD-WAN vendor, or a new company to work with on your UCaaS or CCaaS initiative, you can always reach out to the UC Advisor team. We’re here to help you find the technology best for your business.