What to Consider When Planning a Software-Defined WAN Deployment

1 - What to Consider When Planning a Software-Defined WAN Deployment
2 - State of the WAN Today
3 - How Applications Are Challenging the WAN
4 - SD-WAN Can Improve Traffic Management and Prioritization
5 - What Else SD-WAN Brings to the Table
6 - What's Coming Next?
7 - Questions to Ask Yourself in Preparation for an SD-WAN
8 - Questions to Ask About the Business and Security Aspects of SD-WAN
9 - What We Can Expect From SD-WAN Makers Beyond 2016
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What to Consider When Planning a Software-Defined WAN Deployment

Wide-area networks that use SDN achieve greater agility and flexibility. Here is what network administrators should consider as they plan an SD-WAN deployment.

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State of the WAN Today

A bit of background first: Business, education and government organizations use wide-area networks to enable communications and move data between staff, students, clients, buyers and suppliers across geographic locations. These are becoming more and more strategic as time goes on, and the growing size and scope of workloads are causing problems with latency on older networks.

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How Applications Are Challenging the WAN

The WAN is also challenged by new-gen applications: They are more bandwidth-intensive, they are being delivered from the cloud, and they are being consumed on more mobile devices. This is overwhelming the WAN, resulting in a lower-quality user experience, latency and reduced productivity, as well as impacting business performance.

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SD-WAN Can Improve Traffic Management and Prioritization

A software-defined WAN allows much more control over the data on a WAN. Higher priority can be given to business-critical applications to ensure smooth business operations regardless of bandwidth demands. How? Improved productivity: The faster your applications, the more productive your employees will be. IT savings: Centralized management of branches means less time spent traveling to make changes or replace equipment. Bandwidth savings: You can activate backup links to increase available bandwidth and leverage lower-cost links like business-class Internet.

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What Else SD-WAN Brings to the Table

Openness, for one thing. Application programming interfaces (APIs) allow your IT and technology partners to develop custom applications that improve how you operate, manage, enhance and secure a WAN. Converged services make it faster and cheaper for IT to provide network services as business needs evolve, including security, compliance and application optimization.

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What's Coming Next?

Progressive-thinking enterprises are constantly reinventing themselves to disrupt the market, and they use the latest technologies to do so. Organizations that want to start their digital transformation and accelerate business innovation to stay ahead of the competition need a dynamic branch solution that enables reinvention on demand. SD-WAN can satisfy some or most of these requirements.

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Questions to Ask Yourself in Preparation for an SD-WAN

1) Can you migrate seamlessly to an SD-WAN infrastructure? 2) How will your solution integrate with a non-SD-WAN infrastructure? 3) What capabilities do you have to support a hands-on pilot or testing in your existing legacy or hybrid WAN environment? 4) What new skill sets and hardware or software resources are needed to deploy and support the solution?

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Questions to Ask About the Business and Security Aspects of SD-WAN

1) Do you have any evidence demonstrating the ROI of your solution? 2) Do you already have validated and certified security offerings (FIPS 140-2, CC or Suite-B)? 3) WAN is a long-term investment. What is the scope and scale of your support model? 4) What's the maturity of your SD-WAN solution and the company's longevity? Note: The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication 140-2 is a U.S. government computer security standard used to accredit cryptographic modules.

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What We Can Expect From SD-WAN Makers Beyond 2016

In 2016, organizations will start looking beyond basic SD-WAN capabilities. IT managers will look for a more programmable network with increased virtualization in the branch. Network functions virtualization (NFV) will become an increasingly important part of this conversation. The technology creating waves for service providers will enter the enterprise as the benefit of decoupling hardware and software further simplifies network management.

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