How to Optimize Your SD-WAN to Fit the Evolving Needs of Your Business

June 29, 2022

By Special Guest
Bob Kukic, Senior Solutions Engineer, Expereo,

According to a recent report, the Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) market is set to grow from $1.9 billion in 2020 to a staggering $8.4 billion by 2025. That’s a compound annual growth rate of more than 34%, and the surest sign yet that organizations far and wide are looking to prioritize and optimize their network infrastructure.

The shift to remote working spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic prompted businesses to reevaluate their plans for digital transformation. While high bandwidth, low latency, and accelerated access to critical business applications were always seen as advantageous, they’re now essential components in a working landscape that’s becoming increasingly distributed. As our dependence on cloud-based applications and processes grows, so does our need to keep those applications and processes as streamlined, accessible and secure as possible - and that’s where SD-WAN comes in.

It’s no longer enough to simply tap into SaaS (News - Alert) (Software-as-a-Service) solutions and hand out log-in credentials to employees. That’s fine if you’re running a small organization with the odd employee occasionally choosing to work from home, but it’s not enough for organizations that truly want to embrace agile working and keep their teams connected, engaged and productive. To achieve that, organizations need to start thinking about connectivity in terms of the overall employee experience. How quickly can they log on? How easily can they access the records they need to do their job effectively? Slow access should never be a barrier to productivity, and SD-WAN gives businesses control over their network infrastructure to ensure that never happens.

But what happens after a business has deployed SD-WAN? How can it be sure that the technology is being used to its fullest potential? Here are four ways in which SD-WAN can be optimized for evolving business needs.

Choose the right network underlay

Making the wrong underlay selection can result in poor internet peering, network congestion, and inconsistent site-to-site connectivity. All of these issues combined can result in a very frustrated workforce, creating problems that SD-WAN itself is designed to fix. To avoid this problem, make sure you choose the right technology underlay to fit your business needs. During SD-WAN deployments, overlays tend to be the focus, but having a solid underlay is absolutely critical in order for the overlay to perform as promised. All of the data that flows through your on-site WAN will eventually make a stop at the underlay before being transmitted to the rest of your corporate network, wherever in the world that may be. The underlay network must accommodate diverse data flows, or else the SD-WAN deployments will fall short of expectations.

Consider intelligent routing technology

At its core, SD-WAN is designed to accelerate data traffic. It does this by choosing optimal data paths for the highest quality performance. This capability, however, is only as good as the information it is fed. By further optimizing SD-WAN with intelligent routing technology, network paths can be analyzed in real-time so that the fastest paths are chosen for your most business-critical applications, or even for specific users on the network.

Look for providers with customer success managers

Deploying SD-WAN, like most things in business, isn’t a “one and done” deal. It’s something that will need to be tweaked and optimized over time, and it may evolve as your business needs change. Some SD-WAN providers employ customer success managers to regularly review your organization’s network performance and generate feedback that you can use to improve its overall effectiveness. This kind of insight is rare and valuable for companies to avoid sub-par SD-WAN deployments.

Get access to real-time performance data if possible

When you deploy SD-WAN, your organization should be given access to a control portal that allows you to monitor your underlay, overlay and Logging-as-a-Service (LaaS) access. If this isn’t something your chosen provider can deliver, it’s time to broaden your search. From this portal, your business will be able to set role-based applications, security policy controls, and even diagnostic tools to help you manage your SD-WAN deployment effectively. This kind of real-time insight is invaluable when it comes to making sure your business gets the most out of SD-WAN, and it’s also a great way of establishing your return on investment.

Deploying an SD-WAN solution can revolutionize network performance and employee productivity, but thinking about your network underlay and deploying SD-WAN is really only the first step. Beyond that, you should be seeking to optimize your SD-WAN deployment over time, making it work harder for your business. As ever in these situations, organizations that are curious and ask questions of their technology are often the ones that will get the best return on their investment.

About the Author: Bob is a Senior Solution Engineer at Expereo with over 25 years of experience in consulting, designing, implementing, and managing technology solutions. His areas of expertise include SASE, SD-WAN, Security, Internet, and Private Networks.

Edited by Erik Linask

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