What To Prioritize In Your SD-WAN Vendor

by Sachin

Enterprise networks have long selected MPLS networks for standard configurations referencing their availability and predictability as main factors in the selection process. Regardless of the dependability of MPLS, there are negative aspects as well. The expense is compared to standard internet is significantly more and the timeline for provision is often between 60-120 days. MPLS is limited in what it offers. You will not have an address cloud or mobile traffic, both of which are important needs for enterprises. Adding to the disadvantages, MPLS security policies require on-site management with continuous upgrades and updates.  

Because of the challenges, MPLS networks present many organizations are seeking to migrate to software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions.

Compared to MPLS networks, SD-WAN is less expensive, brings software networking, and improves WAN management. Still, there are many SD-WAN providers to choose from and not all are equal. We’re explaining what to prioritize when choosing an SD-WAN vendor.  

Here are six items to prioritize when selecting an SD-WAN provider:

1. Look for More than Basic SD-WAN

Make a list of all the branch entities you need to connect. SD-WAN connects locations by definitions such as branch offices, cloud applications, mobile users and cloud datacenter.

2. Ensure Simple Deployment

SD-WAN’s zero-touch provisioning should allow you to bring your site up without on-site technical support. Make sure you choose a simple deployment with a predefined server location. Your service steps should only include connecting, powering up, and downloading the configuration.

3. Performance

If your SD-WAN solution doesn’t effectively detect blackouts or brownouts your overall performance will be degraded. It’s important to have a provider with their own SLA-backed backbone to ensure consistent performance for the long-haul. Performance is of utmost importance for global networks. Regardless if your solution is to move completely to SD-WAN or a hybrid solution your selection should also be able to prioritize real-time traffic above non-real-time traffic.

4. Availability

Selecting the right SD-WAN solution with active/active configuration should include finding one that has better uptime than MPLS. There is no point in migrating to SD-WAN if you have to compromise on availability!

One benefit of an active/active line is that it uses redundant active lines to connect to the SD-WAN. Companies usually connect locations to an MPLS service with one line leaving it susceptible to failure if there is a router misconfiguration, the cable cuts out or there is an issue at the physical plant. Active/active solves the issue of a lack of availability because if one line fails, traffic is automatically redirected to an alternative connection.

5. Network Security

When it comes to network security this is another area where not all SD-WAN solutions are equal. Segmentation and encryption are the required basic security features. Some solutions will also offer simple firewalls or security services from a 3rd party vendor. This does not guarantee protection from application-layer or malware attacks.

We believe that the best option is a provider that offers integrated cloud-based security services because they are most easily managed by the administrator of your network security.

6. Management

It’s important to take the time to find an SD-WAN provider that offers you centralized management so you can monitor your entire network. This allows you to keep things as simple as possible. This one option will eliminate your need for multiple tools as well as performance monitoring platforms.

When choosing an SD-WAN vendor there are many features to compare. Ultimately, you want to choose the best solution for your business needs. We’ve covered the top six points we believe you need to consider in order to make the smoothest transition to SD-WAN.

For more information on SD-WAN check out Cato Network.


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