How to choose SD-WAN: 4 key questions

September 20, 2021
Access Tech: Choosing an SD-WAN for your business is stressful. Which one provides the best service for your needs? Take time to determine key factors of what you need from an SD-WAN.

You’ve likely heard that software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) offers a way to manage the bandwidth demands and complexity of cloud environments, as well as addressing some of the security concerns around remote work. But determining how to choose SD-WAN from among the options available can be daunting.

As SD-WAN demand has increased, the initial flood of providers has been narrowed as major providers have acquired some of the best solutions out there. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be a bit of a process to evaluate SD-WAN options. Here are four questions that will help you decide how to choose SD-WAN providers worthy of sending an RFP:

  1. DIY or Managed Services SD-WAN? There’s a lot to an SD-WAN transition. First, you have to create a WAN map, examine the history of your network traffic patterns, and estimate bandwidth requirements for your various sites. Then you will need to determine how you will prioritize traffic and develop relevant business policy. This level of SD-WAN expertise is unusual to find on a corporate IT team, even before you determine whether your staff has time to complete the transition. Handing off the transition and ongoing management to a managed services provider, or even for a co-managed solution, is a good fit for many companies.
  2. What Pricing Option Is a Good Fit? One of the benefits of handing off the implementation and management of SD-WAN to a managed services provider is that your spending goes from a capital expenditure to operating expenses. SD-WAN options generally come with a subscription-based pay model that allows you to use exactly the services and number of users you require. Companies needing guidance on how to choose SD-WAN solutions can benefit from a few considerations.
  3. Which SD-WAN Options Integrate Well With Existing Infrastructure? Think through your security policies, for instance. If you’re using a zero-trust approach, consider how easy or challenging it might be to apply those principles to an SD-WAN solution you’re considering. How will the SD-WAN solution mesh with your existing monitoring software?
  4. What Started the Conversation? There are many business drivers that can influence how to choose SD-WAN solutions. It may be a cost discussion, as multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) gets pricey with more cloud-based solutions demanding more bandwidth; or it could be that you have a pressing need for traffic segmentation and prioritization because of an increased focus on virtual meetings and collaborative technology. The reason for your shift to SD-WAN should dictate the providers you consider. Look for one that has strength in the area you care most about.

There are many SD-WAN solutions out there, and choosing the right one is closely dependent on your reasons and priorities related to the transition. For guidance in how to choose SD-WAN providers that align well with your networking and infrastructure objectives, contact us at Access Tech.

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