How to Get the Most Out of Your SD-WAN Deployment

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How to Get the Most Out of Your SD-WAN Deployment

Everything in IT seems to trend toward "software-defined," and this includes local networks. From all indications, software-defined wide-area networks, or SD-WANs, are gaining traction among enterprises. According to a recent study, 58.5 percent of enterprises across the globe plan to adopt SD-WAN within the next two years, and researcher IDC estimates that worldwide SD-WAN vendor revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020. Many organizations understand the benefits of SD-WAN—including optimized bandwidth at a low cost—and are ready to deploy it in their environments. While the benefits are clear, integrations can be challenging. In this eWEEK slide show, using industry information from Wayne Cheung, Director of NFV Product Marketing at Juniper Networks, we present several best-practice-type tips on getting the most out of SD-WAN technology.

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Metrics, Metrics, Metrics

One of the best ways to ensure SD-WAN is running properly is measuring its impact on the environment. This relatively simple task is something organizations may neglect but then find themselves unable to determine if the technology investment is positively impacting the business. Teams should be sure to track application performance against cost-based routing throughout the deployment.

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Why Tracking Metrics Are Important

In the long run, tracking metrics will not only help the IT team understand if the SD-WAN deployment is achieving designed goals, but also justify future improvements to the infrastructure that can benefit from software-defined technologies if IT teams can quantify positive impact.

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Controlled Rollout

As with any new technology, it's critical to test SD-WAN technology in a contained environment before rolling it out to the entire organization. This ensures that any challenges the IT team runs into related to certain applications, optimizing the policies or integrations with existing environments when initially running the technology don't affect the larger organization. This is particularly important for newer technologies like SD-WAN, where use cases have been few and far between as the technology is just starting to take off.

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Don't Fly Blind

Since SD-WAN automates the ongoing management of connectivity, IT teams are removed from one of the more expensive and critical aspects of running an enterprise network on a day-to-day basis. They understand the policies they've put in place but also need assurance regarding the operation of the SD-WAN tasks.

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How to Address Running the Operation

IT teams need enhanced monitoring and visualization tools with alerts to ensure the environment is making the right determinations on how to route each type of application traffic accordingly while maintaining service-level agreements (SLAs). IT teams should consider monitoring tools when selecting their SD-WAN technologies and use the testing environment to get a handle on automatic load balancing and congestion management to better understand assurance issues.

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Keep It Secure

With breaches permeating news headlines, security is top of mind for every organization, and it's a critical consideration for SD-WAN deployments. It's important to ensure the traffic moving through the different connection paths is encrypted and for IT to consider how encrypting traffic can impact speeds when testing the technology and designing performance metrics.

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Internet Will Play a Role in Local Network

Let's also not forget this path may traverse the internet, the source for much of the miscreant traffic. All IT professionals should consider a comprehensive security approach, including integrated firewalls with antivirus or intrusion protection that functions along with the SD-WAN technology.

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Keep It Simple and United

It's possible to layer virtual network infrastructure services, such as MPLS VPN, security, QoS/CoS and WAN optimization, alongside the SD-WAN on the same virtual CPE platform. One way is to add virtual network functions (VNFs) to the SD-WAN using network functions virtualization (NFV) technology. SD-WAN can be just another VNF that can run adjacently to one another or independently, giving enterprises more flexibility as they evolve virtualized-based services. Don't overcomplicate the approach with racking and stacking multiple appliances that require multiple management systems. Look for an integrated platform that can deploy and manage the life cycle of SD-WAN and other virtual network services.

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