Common SD-WAN Challenges & How to Avoid Them

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A Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) enables organizations to rely on a combination of transport services. The increasing use of SD-WAN for connecting enterprise networks improves productivity, reduces cost, and increases application performance.  

It is a feature-packed technology that centralizes security, management, networking, and more. Consequently, organizations with cloud solutions view SD-WAN as an infrastructure upgrade to operations. 

Wrong Approaches

A frequent occurrence with businesses is the focus on individual technical elements. Unfortunately, many such enterprises fail to realize  the need to address end-to-end solutions. 

Selection should encompass all available approaches with the choice that best suits the company’s needs, budget, and savviness. Another aspect to  consider is the fact that IT teams often fixate on price. Unfortunately, most of them misinterpret prices, opting for cheaper options resulting in  poor network performance .  

Such 0rganizations often soon encounter issues with high latency, prolonged downtimes, less supportive service-level agreements, and more. As enticing as cost savings can appear, ensure it never poses serious risk to your network connectivity or SD-WAN designs. 

Responding to this Challenge:
  • Ensure that all choices and approaches produce maximum results for the company’s network. 
  • Consider platforms with built-in cloud and security vendor access for appliances. 
  • Ensure to prioritize necessary performance features over novel ones. 
  • Technology evolves at a rapid pace, so plan accordingly with future long-term growth in mind.

Overlooking the Quality of Service (QoS) Concept for SD-WAN

One attribute that should never get overlooked is the QoS. An equally important aspect is the quality of experience. However, SD-WAN service providers never seem to offer end-to-end prioritization. Although it provides an efficient traffic segmentation and path selection, traffic movement often gets delayed. Therefore, seeking an SD-WAN approach with ‘fail safe’ technology features is crucial.  

These options must offer superior performance to MPLS across all applications. MPLS itself comes with end-to-end QoS via six settings for service-level categories, though also with delayed traffic movement.  

Responding to this Challenge:
  • Never compromise on the quality of service and quality of experience with network connectivity.  
  • Be sure to purchase local site-by-site internet underlay with low-cost service that provides high QoS and QoE along with various available features.Consult with experts to get the best-customized recommendations. 

SD-WAN Security Requirements

Some SD-WAN technology lacks security capabilities. Unfortunately, these security lapses often open the door to cyber threats.  

 For instance, there’s usually an edge security change with SD-WAN features such as virtual private network (VPN) deployment. In other scenarios, data get transferred with every migration to cloud solutions. Therefore, deploying hardware and virtualized instances with accessed security policies still comes with risks. 

 Responding to this Challenge 
  • Organizations should take time to research all vendor claims and ensure all security functions meet  company criteria. 
  • Strategize the integration of cyber security and networking solutions instead of separating the two. 
  • Make it a habit to add new layers of security systems where and when necessary. 
  • Try integrating existing security with SD-WAN solutions. 

SD-WAN Management Issues

Today’s SD-WAN solutions help to blur the lines between DIY and the type of management structure in place. Organizations never get to pick the management level traditionally. One of the drawbacks of the SD-WAN model is that it breaks most businesses’ existing centralized security inspections.  

Organizations often build hub network architectures designed around the consolidation of data streams. The idea is to backhaul traffic through a centralized channel into data centers. Firewalls are used to create  single security inspection points  so that packets get examined before making it into the data center. The presence of an SD-WAN architecture makes this method ineffective. 

By default, SD-WAN solutions lack integrated security that allows routing all traffic through a full security stack for inspection. There’s also the task of threat prevention before proceeding to its destination. 

 With SD-WAN,  lots of traffic moves outside the data center perimeter. As such, connections to the cloud from external sources like remote workers never go through the traditional inspection process. 

The outcome for organizations is a forced decision. They have the choice of forgoing the benefits of SD-WAN by backhauling traffic to the data center for inspection, or simply not securing traffic on the WAN at all. 

Responding to this Challenge:
  • Give the required training to the IT team and staff members  
  • Get dedicated staff that can oversee the end-to-end SD-WAN implementation 
  • Infuse post-implementation monitoring and management into the company’s activity. 

Cloud Connectivity Requirements

When it comes to selecting SD-WAN projects, vendors and the IT team require cloud connectivity to either AWS, Google, or Microsoft Azure. Therefore, SD-WAN vendors typically belong to one of three categories based on their cloud access capabilities. 

  • Native Cloud Access: This category includes built-in access to the vendor’s SD-WAN architecture . It involves using the cloud’s backbone infrastructure for connecting to branch office sites. For vendors that adopt the cloud as a global backbone, this is an everyday occurrence. However, this option is better for connecting to  local cloud data centers since the deployment of cloud gateway architecture is a unique system. 
  • Vendor Access Provision: This category entails vendors delivering SD-WAN appliances to a cloud environment through public gateways or private backbones. Such an option comes with more flexibility regarding  vendor features. Public gateways and private backbones route traffic more efficiently than the Internet. 
  •  Customer Access Provision: Here the customer is responsible for deploying the appliances in the local cloud-based data center with this option. This option offers cloud access in a more ad hoc and  simplified architecture. 
Responding to this Challenge:
  • Normalize analyzing deployment needs and internal application performance. 
  • After implementation, monitor application performance. It ensures that the business takes timely actions and prevents any form of disruption. 
  • It’s crucial to decide the bandwidth requirements and latency policies in a multi-cloud environment. An excellent way to achieve this is by evaluating service dependency on several micro-service segments.

These shortcomings aside, SD-WAN offers numerous benefits for organizations  looking to optimize and transform their corporate networks.

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