June 13, 2024

    Choosing the Right SD-WAN Provider for Your Business Needs

    SD-WAN can deliver significant benefits for business networks. However, there must be more misinformation and misconceptions about what it can do.

    Network planners should choose the right provider for their business needs to get the most out of this technology. Some of the key factors to consider include 1: pricing and functionality.

    Reliability and Performance

    One of the most important criteria for evaluating SD-WAN vendors is their performance during network incidents. A quality vendor offers monitoring that automatically detects and alerts you to problems so you can quickly respond to performance issues. Your SD-WAN provider should also be able to identify root causes for network issues and help you troubleshoot them.

    For example, your business may experience slow application performance or disconnection and need to identify the cause of these issues. With a full-featured dashboard, you can monitor critical performance metrics like latency, packet loss, and jitter to understand and proactively address what’s impacting your network.

    Regarding reliability, look for an SD-WAN solution with a business-driven architecture that prioritizes applications and optimizes traffic routing. This provides reliable connectivity across branch offices with a business-critical network backed by end-to-end SLAs.

    In addition, look for an SD-WAN solution that offers flexible WAN connectivity by combining MPLS circuits with lower-cost alternatives like broadband Internet or 4G LTE connections. This approach saves money on bandwidth costs while ensuring business-critical traffic is always prioritized over low-priority applications.

    It would help if you also looked for an SD-WAN provider like Versa Networks that supports a range of deployment options, including zero-touch provisioning, which enables IT teams to deploy and connect the device with a WAN link easily. Alternatively, you can choose an appliance-based SD-WAN with more hands-on configuration and monitoring capabilities.

    Scalability

    From a technical standpoint, scalability is the ability to adjust systems to meet the demands of current or expected contexts without costly refactoring or rearchitecting activities. Regarding SD-WAN, scalability also includes growing functionality and performance over time, adding features or increasing bandwidth capacity without expensive upgrades.

    The SD-WAN vendor you choose must be able to scale hardware and software up or down as your business needs change. This can be achieved by opting for virtualized appliances that run everything from a central dashboard, which simplifies management and helps lower hardware costs.

    Look for providers that offer a range of security options for your SD-WAN, from firewalls to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solutions that provide zero trust security checks and more. Ultimately, you want to choose a provider that offers the level of security you need for the business applications you use daily.

    When evaluating managed SD-WAN providers, ask how they plan to handle network outages and traffic overloads. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a managed provider that operates its middle-mile networks and has strong peering relationships in the public Internet so that they can prioritize and route traffic as needed. You can check for this with PeeringDB, which lists the peering status of managed SD-WAN providers.

    Security and Compliance

    The best SD-WAN solutions balance performance, security and TCO to deliver the highest value. But many vendors trade off one of those factors in favor of the others, forcing network managers to make difficult tradeoffs when choosing an SD-WAN solution. Rather than accepting these tradeoffs, look for an SD-WAN vendor that offers comprehensive functionality with high value in all areas.

    Security is a must for any SD-WAN platform. The platform should have features like zero-trust networking, application-aware routing, and robust firewall capabilities to prevent unauthorized access to critical data. The solution should also support granular visibility into network connectivity so administrators can identify and correct potential issues.

    A good SD-WAN provider will provide an advanced set of security tools and an integrated management platform. This will enable a simplified management console and allow faster troubleshooting of problems across the entire distributed network. This includes centralized configuration and deployment and a central dashboard that delivers rich end-to-end visibility into network connections and policies.

    A managed SD-WAN service can be provided either as a physical appliance or as a software license that can run on servers at the headquarters. When choosing an SD-WAN managed service, check the provider’s peering relationships on websites such as PeeringDB and ask about their middle mile network – a well-peered provider can deliver better traffic conditioning/routing optimization over the public Internet for a reduced cost.

    Support and Service Options

    It’s important to know what support options a potential SD-WAN provider offers. You’ll want to ensure you can get assistance if an appliance fails and a team needs to troubleshoot it remotely. It would help if you also looked at how many WAN interfaces the device has and its throughput/bandwidth capacity. This can help you determine whether the device is right for your enterprise and its upcoming network growth needs.

    Some SD-WAN providers offer managed services, which means they handle the entire setup and configuration and provide ongoing management. This can be a great option for busy IT teams that need to save time and resources.

    When choosing a managed SD-WAN provider, ask about their peering relationships. This is crucial to ensure your traffic can reach its destination. You can check the peering status of an SD-WAN vendor using an online resource, but it’s a good idea also to call them and ask directly.

    In addition to offering managed services, an SD-WAN provider should also have a comprehensive hardware and software support program. This includes a 24/7/365 support team with a global network of spare depots for rapid response to hardware failures. The provider should also provide tutorials and training materials for deploying, configuring and managing the technology. This can help minimize costly downtime and improve performance.

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