How to get SDWAN implementation right
Jul 14, 2020

How to get SDWAN implementation right

SUJAY M SINGH
BUSINESS MANAGER, DIGITAL NETWORK SERVICES

SD-WAN is fast becoming the default WAN edge solution for global enterprises. SD-WAN adoption solves many problems such as WAN performance issues, complex WAN edge administration, high WAN TCO, long provisioning delays, application traffic visibility, cloud access performance and branch edge security. Implementing SD-WAN reduces capital and operational expenditure, improves business agility by enhancing availability & visibility over the enterprise’s network.

Although the SD-WAN implementation looks simple and easy with plug and play or zero touch provisioning, there are practical challenges that require careful planning to make the SD-WAN implementation a success. A successful SD-WAN implementation in time, enables customers to realize the value of SD-WAN faster, thereby reaping quantitative and qualitative benefits.

Microland has implemented thousands of SD-WAN sites for global customers in leading SD-WAN technologies. Here is a list of key customer considerations for smooth and successful SD-WAN transformation and subsequent SD-WAN management.

  1. Business case development: Most of the customers while embarking on SD-WAN journey consider only direct cost benefits that come out of using Internet links. This approach does not work many times, as the link costs vary geographically and so does the Internet performance. Hence, it is best to develop the business-case based on cloud access performance, WAN edge consolidation, branch security and application visibility, and not purely relying on WAN cost savings.
  2. SD-WAN Product selection: We have seen customers spend too much time in SD-WAN product evaluation through Proof-of-Concepts, as the choices are many and the solutions vary in functionality like for example: appliance based vs white box with NFV, SD-WAN integrated Security solution vs cloud based security, cloud based SD-WAN management vs on-premise solution, with or without WAN optimization, etc. Engage a Service and solution partner with expertise in multiple SD-WAN technologies. The expertise and knowledge across multiple products will help to curtail the product selection cycle. 
  3. Carefully plan WAN contracts: Customers must ascertain the vendor lock-in and contract severance issues in existing contracts and avoid such situations in future WAN / telecom contracts. Typically bundling the SD-WAN management with one telecom operator might lead to inflexibility and service demarcation issues while adopting an alternate provider or WAN technology in future. Keep the WAN contracts as “wires-only” option where possible to have complete control on SD-WAN device administration and multi-vendor service demarcation.
  4. Distributed Internet and Regional ISPs: With Internet getting distributed to branch offices, the selection of the right ISP and their numbers play a role in the overall cost and management complexities. The selection of the right grade of Internet is also a key consideration in Internet cost, performance and availability. Strike a right balance in Internet selection and ISP selection (Global, regional, country-wise). 
  5. Current infrastructure considerations: Customers shall plan the information gathering on existing infrastructure including the site wise application traffic requirements and configurations to ensure the future SD-WAN policy-based configurations align and address the site-specific requirements. Understanding the applications in the branch/sites will enable right policy-based configuration for the site. Baselining the current infrastructure performance is also important before beginning the SD-WAN rollout to validate the post deployment benefits and performance. Gather the site-specific information and baseline performance before SD-WAN design and deployment.
  6. Right size the project management and technical efforts: It is possible for customers to be misled by the plug-and-play provisioning capability of SD-WAN and underestimate the project management and technical deployment efforts. Unless careful planning and estimation is done or any automation is considered, the under estimation of resource efforts will lead to long delays in deployment, cost over-run and compromise in quality. Right size the design, deployment and project management effort. Consider a transformation partner with expertise in design, deployment and project management with experience in SD-WAN transformation automation and acceleration.

Careful consideration of these points will enable customers to choose the right SD-WAN partner, have the right WAN contracting approach, eliminate the pitfalls in design and deployment, and realize the value of SD-WAN at the earliest.