Network architecture is now seen as the hub of digital transformation. Implementing the SD-WAN architecture can lead to cost savings, performance benefits, and easy administration.
Most companies are experiencing massive changes in the technology and processes they use.
This is because most companies have traditionally used manual and analog processes. Technologies such as cloud and edge computing, mobility, artificial intelligence and devices that are capable of the Internet of Things have disrupted these long-standing processes.
The digital transformation captures the massive changes that companies are experiencing in the digitization and automation of processes. Digital transformation integrates technology to solve traditional business problems with automation, digitized processes, and artificial intelligence. Digital transformation can optimize the way companies work, while creating competitive advantage and business differentiation.
According to Gartner Research, one of the first steps towards this automation is virtualization of IT infrastructure, especially with network virtualization, about the role of network virtualization in digital transformation. For most corporate IT departments, the WAN (Wide Area Network) edge is the easiest place to start virtualizing a network. Software-defined WANs provide relatively quick cost savings and performance benefits. Virtualization eliminates hardware, enables more flexible management, and more.
When your business is ready to use software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology, the next logical question is "How?"
No two SD-WAN Deployment Services are designed, created, and managed identically. Several factors change deployment decisions, including the composition of a remote site, end-user requirements, and budget constraints. SD-WAN implementation involves seven steps to help you ask the right questions. These steps are the following:
- Calculate the maximum number of remote locations
- The correct deployment size is based on the number of users and the expected use of WAN
- Analyze applications / services / workloads.
- Determine what WAN connectivity options are available
- Choose an implementation model
- Plan to capture the WAN data stream after deployment
- Continuous improvement based on analysis
Let's take a closer look at each of these steps.
- Calculate the maximum number of remote locations: The number of SD-WAN deployment options that can be deployed increases relative to the number of remote locations in a company. Smaller SD-WAN use cases generally keep the overall architecture simple by using ready-to-use configurations. For simplicity, these types of implementations generally use a star topology that brings all traffic back to one place. Most companies choose design complexity because they lack the budget, manpower, or need for a more robust design.
Large deployments offer more flexibility when it comes to how complicated they can be. Much of this depends on the importance of remote locations in terms of business continuity. The more critical remote locations become for business performance, the more sophisticated the SD-WAN implementation will be.
- Align the size of the deployment based on the number of users and the expected use of WAN: The number of end users and the location of your applications and data play an important role in determining the design and size of an SD-WAN. For example, if a remote site has hundreds or thousands of users, but applications and data are managed locally, WAN optimization and intelligence may not be as important as a 10-user site that uses business-critical applications that they are further a WAN From a performance point of view, the number of employees is important. However, be sure to measure the needs per user and the business importance of a WAN.
- Analyze applications / services / workloads: Then assess the number, type, and importance of all the expected applications, services, and workloads that will go through the WAN. Investigate to identify each application, how this application interacts with resources distributed over the WAN, and what network requirements exist. For real-time streaming protocols such as voice, video, and high-performance database access, these application data streams must be identified, flagged, and prioritized over a WAN.
The secret to the success of a successful SD-WAN deployment comes from this analysis of the application. Only through this analysis can IT departments determine if applications are using SD-WAN resources or if they require faster speeds. Only if you know these application requirements can you configure your SD-WAN correctly. Without going through a thorough review and prioritizing applications by importance and requirements, the intelligence of an SD-WAN implementation lacks the information to make appropriate routing decisions.
- Determine what WAN connectivity options are available: After calculating the latency and performance requirements based on the information collected in the previous three steps, examine what WAN connection options are available at each location. Don't forget: SD-WAN technologies must have two or more WAN connections for SD-WAN AI to have a choice of routes to use. If all of your offices are in modern urban areas, there may be a large number of private WAN and / or broadband providers. In this situation, the choice of WAN connectivity types comes down to answering the following questions:
- What performance, what latency, and what reliability are required today?
- What options best allow for the expected type of scale and / or reduction?
- What options are best suited to your budget?
However, if your remote locations are in rural areas, you should also consider the limitations of WAN's restricted options. In this situation, no stone should be flipped. Fortunately, the underlying information in SD-WANs can continue to use low bandwidth connections and higher latency while taking full advantage of it. As a result, options that are often initially ignored (for example, LTE and satellite broadband) may be viable connectivity options in some places.
- Choose an implementation model: All the previous steps in this process deal with the framework in which SD-WAN is running. When this is complete, the fifth step is to examine the SD-WAN deployment options and find out which model best fits. There are three basic implementation models to choose from.
First, in-house IT staff could negotiate prices and enter into WAN connection contracts directly with the provider. Once complete, the company's IT department can select, fully implement and manage an SD-WAN. Alternatively, many IT decision makers have chosen a SD-WAN managed service provider (MSP) to handle all aspects of the WAN, including relationships with WAN line providers, SD-WAN provisioning, and all continuous maintenance.
Finally, it is becoming increasingly popular to provide a hybrid solution that divides tasks between internal IT staff and an MSP. In this scenario, an MSP manages the underlying WAN infrastructure by monitoring the performance of WAN connections and by opening preventive trouble tickets with WAN line providers on behalf of the customer. The entire WAN guidelines creation, management, and security situation is left to internal IT staff, who better understand user needs. As Gartner noted, many IT departments are now responsible for managing service delivery, not managing traditional IT infrastructure.
- Schedule capture of the WAN data stream after deployment: It is important to note that even after the SD-WAN architecture has been implemented, the technology requires ongoing maintenance to function efficiently. While artificial intelligence eliminates numerous manual processes within an SD-WAN platform, relevant information about changes in user requirements, growth, or business requirements has yet to be provided. This information must be collected and selected so that the intelligence embedded in the SD-WAN architecture can understand the changes and make the necessary adjustments to the data flow policy.
- Continuous improvement based on analysis: When an IT department implements an SD-WAN architecture, it generally behaves according to the information that was originally provided. It is up to a network administrator to determine when to enter new policy information (based on business requirements) that changes the behavior of an SD-WAN. The collected data should be analyzed and then imported back to the SD-WAN platform at regular intervals.
Changes in connectivity type should also be re-evaluated on a specific timeline. New WAN connection options may be available to enhance the experience of WAN end users. Additionally, the number of users, the types of applications, and the critical importance of applications / data are likely to change over time, increasing or decreasing performance, speed, and fluctuations at each location. It is important that continuous improvement is planned and planned properly to ensure that the intelligence of an SD-WAN is effective.
Deploying an SD-WAN
When implementing an SD-WAN Deployment, don't forget how the technology is used in your particular environment. Although each described step does not have to be carried out in succession, the steps can be divided into pre-planning, architecture and ongoing administration phases.
When planning ahead, consider the connectivity types of individual branches. Also calculate the number of end users and their specific application requirements. The architecture phase includes considering geographic location, user requirements, and the deployment model to optimally achieve your goals.
After all, you need data acquisition and analysis in the continuous management phase to continually optimize your SD-WAN architecture. Then, based on the results of the analysis, review the network guidelines to adapt them to the business requirements. If these steps can be followed in the phases described, you are on the right track for an enterprise SD-WAN that will work for years to come.