Adoption of SaaS as well as IaaS remains the top priority of every progressive business today. Frost & Sullivan, in one of their latest surveys, found that “62 percent of technology companies will have deployed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and 82 percent will host workloads in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) data centers by 2020”. For obvious reasons, most enterprises have embarked upon their cloud migration. Many organizations have already moved 100 percent of their application instances to one or more SaaS and IaaS platforms; and have completely done away with operating their own data centers.
A majority of companies today have adopted a multi-cloud strategy. They are running their applications in three or more different cloud platforms. Most of these applications are distributed across multiple geographies and accessed by users from multiple devices and from multi locations worldwide. Hence, in this new multi-cloud multi-location era, enterprises are faced with a range of entirely new challenges. They are struggling to answer some critical questions such as how to use the internet to connect users directly to cloud applications in the most agile and secure manner, how to continuously deliver world-class user experience for business-critical applications, and how to keep up with frequent changes to their WAN environment without configuring and administering millions of devices one by one. And there are even more complex networking management and security challenges popping up every day. Basic SD-WAN solutions that emerged a few years ago offered solutions to many of these questions, but they too fall well short of the goal of a fully automated, business-driven, cloud-ready, and secure network. Hence it becomes important to look for some key attributes while picking an SD-WAN vendor. In this article, we are going to highlight five such key attributes that would help an enterprise select the most optimal SD-WAN solution for their needs.
1. The ability to provide sub-second, or even better, instantaneous failover
A good SD-WAN solution needs to be cost-competitive, support consumer-grade broadband and still deliver world-class application performance and availability – without any SLA tradeoff. This essentially means that the SD-WAN platform should be extremely efficient to overcome the effects of packet loss that takes place when internet connections become either congested or lost even momentarily. Most good SD-WAN platforms provide sub-second, or instantaneous failover in the event of a WAN transport brownout or outage. This keeps the applications – such a VoIP call or video conference – running seamlessly without any noticeable interruption for the end-user. Lavelle allows you to use multiple forms of network links (4G to Fiber to V.35 serial) to connect your users to your applications.
2. The ability to simplify branch WAN edge architecture
An advanced SD-WAN platform should be able to completely replace legacy routers, firewalls, and WAN optimization devices. This is achieved by unifying all of the network and security functions in a single WAN edge platform. By consolidating WAN edge infrastructure to a single unified platform gives the IT team the ability to centrally manage the minutest aspects of network functions from a single remote orchestrator. One must note that some commercially available SD-WAN solutions still require multiple disparate management tools. Another set of SD-WAN offerings allow a centralized configuration of just a few basic functions. These SD-WAN solutions require manual device-by-device programming for more advanced configuration and management. This requirement of the manual device by device programming completely defies the zero-touch provisioning claims. Be sure to evaluate this attribute carefully and thoroughly. A good SD-WAN solution, such as Lavelle Network’s CloudPort Edge appliance offers a 100% zero-touch provisioning algorithm. It inter-operates with your existing branch or edge routers or firewalls to help a smooth transformation to SD-WAN.
3. The SD-WAN should have the continuous self-learning mechanism
A basic SD-WAN solution steers traffic as per pre-defined rules. These are generally programmed via templates. However, in order to deliver high application performance under most network conditions, a business-driven SD-WAN is programmed to continuously monitor and self-learn the current or the prevailing state of the network to be able to deliver optimal application performance, even in the event of circumstances such as network changes, congestion or impairments. A self-learning SD-WAN efficiently detects a resource deterioration or an outage, say in a WAN transport service or even a third-party cloud security service, to automatically steer the traffic and keep it flowing.
4. The SD-WAN solution must allow seamless integration of complementary, best-of-breed network and security services
The WAN is complex, security is complex and so is cloud infrastructure. The complexity of WAN keeps increasing with new cloud applications and newer sophisticated security threats. An SD-WAN must provide flexibility and freedom to select and integrate best-of-breed complementary services seamlessly so that users can easily take advantage of innovations in network management and security tools.
5. Rich end-to-end visibility and analytics
Analytics has undoubtedly moved from a nice-to-have feature to a must-have feature, particularly for SD-WANs. One of the reasons to have a robust analytics engine in an SD-WAN solution is the need to process extremely large volumes of data quickly to be able to respond to threats and changing network conditions in real-time. SD-WANs need insights into real-time, visibility, and analytics tools. These analytics tools are embedded into the core product or offered via third-party partner ecosystems. Although most SD-WAN vendors do have some core analytics and visibility capabilities built into their solutions, SD-WAN vendors have varying degrees of analytic sophistication packages. Some solutions have very basic or even rudimentary analytics capabilities. The need is for increased real-time visibility and hence insights from the thousands of endpoints all the way to the cloud is driving the roadmap for solution providers today. Hence, it becomes important while evaluating SD-WAN vendors to understand if the analytics offered by a vendor offers insights from all possible endpoints all the way to the cloud. SD-WAN analytics tools offered by a vendor should also help enterprises monitor end-user behavior for each user within the network and send alerts instantaneously regarding issues such as dropped connections, outages with the ISP, QoS, etc. Improving enterprise security is another important attribute of good SD-WAN analytics. The analytics engine offered by the SD-WAN must be able to detect and flag security problems proactively much before a breach takes place.
Lavelle Networks CloudStation Network Analytics appliance suite of physical, virtual, and cloud instances power the advanced network flow analysis that fuels dynamic path selection, automated performance characterization using Network Scores, split-second visualization of Top Network usage by user, flows, or applications.
Lavelle Network’s ScaleAOn® solution is the most comprehensive portfolio for transforming your enterprise network. You may want to take a look at Lavelle if you are racing to the cloud only to find that your network is slow, complex, or alarmingly insecure. Lavelle Network’s SD-WAN may be an optimal solution for you if your branches are becoming a source of constant network budget increases and you are frustrated that every year the only network discussion is a renewal of your bandwidth contracts and not a better network.