As technology rushes heavily towards the full transition to SD-WAN from MPLS, the move has become far more straightforward and streamlined than it was in the beginning of the tech shift.
In 2019, a study conducted by IDC showed that 39% of companies have already invest in SD-WAN solutions. They predicted that by 2021, the number of companies that used that tech would have reached around 94%. With such a massive industry move to SD-WAN, it is important to understand the planning and costs that go into making the move yourself.
The Careful Planning That Goes Into SD-WAN Migration
As with all new technology and business operations – smooth SD-WAN launches require careful planning and structured deployments.
The first step is to determine the type of connectivity that your business will retain after the switch in technology. Most companies that move away from MPLS move toward Direct Internet Access or broadband. These two access methods are the most common choices when it comes to SD-WAN deployments.
That being said, there are circumstances when larger enterprises will find that continuing the use of an MPLS circuit works best for them. Most of the time this is related to core applications that have low tolerance for latency or stability issues. As much as the move to SD-WAN is the best choice in most cases, it isn’t the best choice in EVERY case, and a company considering making the transition should understand the specific circumstances that make sense to keep MPLS services active.
Security in the SD-WAN World
One of the highest priority issues to keep in mind is Security. Depending on the vendor, some suppliers have more established security measures built into their SD-WAN solutions than others. This means that organizations moving to SD-WAN may need to make a decision between utilizing a cloud-based firewall or using onsite CPE appliances.
Luckily, new technologies are being consistently created that already have security embedded into the technology itself. Some vendors deploy next-generation, cloud-based firewalls that are aware of applications, dynamic and scalable. The number of security options is growing, so when analyzing what SD-WAN solution best fit your requirements, security needs have to be a part of that discussion. Selecting the right security solution ensures that whatever strategy is developed can evolve and scale to meet the needs of your future infrastructure requirements.
Predicting SD-WAN Implementation Costs
When migrating to SD-WAN, it can often be difficult to predict costs. Normally, forecasting recurring costs is relatively straightforward. Setup, construction, and other one-time costs that are needed may be less obvious at the beginning of a migration.
Initial pricing provided by last-second solutions may need to be adjusted once the vendor has had an opportunity to review the job and ensure a successful deployment. At the same time, additional construction costs for inside wiring are common. Building out this type of infrastructure may be necessary in order to handle specific bandwidth requirements for a location. In a limited number of cases there is no bandwidth at the site available at all. In this case, more expenses will be needed to fully prepare the location for the SD-WAN migration.
What to do Before Making the Transition to SD-WAN
It is important to define cloud connectivity needs and expectations in the early stages of planning once you have decided to migrate to SD-WAN. Understanding where the workloads are located is necessary to ensure a smooth transition and seamless user experience.
For example, some organizations may need to design their infrastructure to be somewhat close to core workloads. If the network is duplicated in another country for a global business, it would be necessary to know here cloud connectivity points are located and how they are managed.
Along with cloud connectivity, it is also important to analyze the planned use of wireless access. The decision to use wireless technology will have an effect on configuration. Most networks deliver greater efficiency when their status is set for active-standby or active-dynamic. The reason for this is because a setting of active-active will eat up the minutes of a wireless plan.
As you transition your data plan availability and prices relevant to metered links will also have an effect on decisions. If active-active is the best set up for you, then broadband and Internet circuit use is recommended.
To Handle Internally or Use an MSP?
Ultimately, you will need to decide who will be charged with managing the network once the transition to SD-WAN is complete. This includes asking whether a Managed Service Provider is the best fit for your company. Does your internal IT team have the extra time and know-how to take over management? Will your carrier handle that function?
It is common to see a company initially plan to manage the network internally, only to discover that it is ultimately more than they are able (or want) to handle. If that happens, an MSP is the best choice to take over responsibilities after implementation is complete.