Seven Keys to Unleashing the Full Potential of an SD-WAN System

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Seven Keys to Unleashing the Full Potential of an SD-WAN System

Within two years, about 25 percent of users will manage their wide-area networks through software, creating a $1.3 billion market by 2020, Gartner estimates. In turn, this is creating an SD-WAN market that is crowded with vendors large and small, making it difficult for end users to determine which solution will deliver on the promised benefits of network agility and cost-savings. Unfortunately, too many enterprises have had to revisit their choice of SD-WAN vendor midway through deployment or have simply decided to go through the painful process of modifying their networks to accommodate their chosen SD-WAN solution. To avoid these scenarios, eWEEK in this slide show offers industry advice from 128 Technology’s co-founder and COO, Patrick MeLampy, who tells organizations to check these SD-WAN boxes.  

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Centralized Policy Management and Orchestration

An SD-WAN solution needs to work across a hybrid network architecture consisting of global and regional networks, branch and remote offices, and clouds (AWS, Azure, GCP). It must be able to work across network boundaries, deal with firewalls, switch paths as needed and establish policies across various networks without requiring complex out-of-band routing protocols or involvement of a central controller every time.

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Zero Trust Security

Secure networks are fundamental to a successful business operation; no user, traffic source or connected network should be considered above suspicion, regardless of what it is and its location on, or relative to, the corporate network. It’s important for SD-WAN solutions to maintain zero trust security with a deny-by-default architecture throughout the entire network versus simply putting stand-alone security devices throughout. 

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Service-Centric Segmentation

SD-WAN solutions that adopt service-centric segmentation provide organizations with distinct advantages by being able to identify and prioritize pathways through the network to optimize the delivery of user traffic. This allows businesses to build a network around the services it is meant to deliver. This also enables easy and effective administration and enforcement of security policies throughout the network.

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Open APIs and Analytics

A digital enterprise needs to be able to make changes to networks instantly. SD-WAN solutions must integrate seamlessly with orchestration and automation tools, while harnessing analytics and service monitoring platforms to proactively improve networkwide performance and reliability.

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Application Visibility and Control

With encrypted traffic on the rise, SD-WAN solutions must be able to classify application traffic without looking into the payload. Once classified, the solution should be able to intelligently make decisions on choosing paths, load balancing, SLA resolution and quality of service to guarantee performance.

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Dynamic Hybrid WAN

Businesses need 100 percent uptime, making 4G LTE or an otherwise business-grade broadband a necessity for failover. SD-WAN implementations must be able to switch between wireless and wired networks instantaneously, and they should not require backup tunneling over the wireless network all the time.

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Zero-Touch Deployments

SD-WAN solutions need to bring new platforms online at lightning speed to improve operational efficiency. A solution that can be remotely provisioned, rather than manually manipulated, will speed time to action and reduce errors significantly.

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Summary

There is no doubt SD-WAN brings benefits and offsets costs with a hybrid network architecture. However, it introduces other unanticipated complexities. That’s why it’s critically important for businesses to check these boxes upfront to ensure they reap the full potential of SD-WAN. 

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