3 steps to take before deploying SD-WAN

Read the fine print in your current WAN contracts first to choose the most cost-effective SD-WAN option.

As enterprises develop network strategies and technical roadmaps, one hot technology that will be on their radar is SD-WAN, a significant transformational solution in networking and a major change  from the MPLS status quo that most enterprises have deployed.

As bullish as we are on SD-WAN, we recommend that any enterprise contemplating its adoption take a few preliminary steps to minimize the disruption and costs associated with transitioning from the legacy network. 

Assess your current network

First, establish what your current network looks like and how it’s used. Complete an application assessment and do an endpoint analysis to determine whether you have a lot of small branches, big offices or a combination.

Managed service or in-house?

Second, consider what type of SD-WAN solution makes sense for your enterprise. Do you want a managed service or a DIY unmanaged solution? Take into account your geographic footprint. This will have an impact on which, and how many, last-mile bandwidth providers you’ll need to work with to implement the solution.

Review current WAN contracts

Third, before committing to an SD-WAN business case, it is important to identify your obligations to existing network service providers. You may run into problems or costs (such as early termination or shortfall charges from incumbent providers) with your planned transition to SD-WAN if you don’t fully evaluate what your commitments and potential liabilities are to your current providers. 

It’s not uncommon for enterprises to rush into a migration to SD-WAN predicated on overly optimistic models of cost savings based on replacing most of their MPLS circuits with cheaper internet circuits. In many cases, they fail to realize that they can’t just rip out MPLS circuits with their current providers without incurring huge early termination charges. 

It’s not enough to compare the monthly cost of MPLS with the monthly cost of Internet access; you need to also understand the contracts you have with your current MPLS service providers and determine whether you have individual term commitments

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