Are all SD-WANs made equal?

Part 2 of the article from Aryaka: Creating a truly optimised global network

  • Sunday, 10th September 2023 Posted 9 months ago in by Phil Alsop

In today’s globally connected economy, where virtually every company has become a distributed enterprise, the efficient and secure transmission of data is essential. But that’s far easier said than done!

Multiple challenges in delivering a performant global network have compounded to present enterprises with a considerable hill to climb. And, with users connecting from anywhere to applications and data anywhere and everywhere – SaaS, public cloud, and on-premise data centres – that hill gets only steeper…

Thankfully, SD-WAN is the perfect technology to elevate network performance and orchestration! 

However, not all SD-WANs are made equal, and different products in the market may remove those challenges to varying levels of success. So, here’s what to look out for if your business needs to create a truly optimised global network. 

What’s stopping enterprises from optimising their networks?

With multiple providers supplying services in different geographies, the ability to troubleshoot, triage and resolve network issues can become incredibly complex and time-consuming, especially in having to verify which, of multiple carriers, the underlying issue lies with.

That same mish-mash of carriers and ISPs also leads to unpredictable network performance, for example, due to packet loss across different provider networks, resulting in IT teams trying to manage too many solutions simultaneously. And, with multiple providers come different contract terms, lengths, and, maybe most importantly, SLAs, leading to further confusion and complication in managing the services leveraged. 

Consider too, how hybrid working and digital transformation mandates now necessitate LAN-like performance over WAN to deliver an efficient ‘work-from-anywhere’ experience.  

And while IT leaders would understandably want to consolidate and simplify their network stacks and topologies, the constant demand to reduce infrastructure costs and/or reallocate costs to other aspects of the business, where more immediate returns on investment can be achieved, resulting in a lower total cost of ownership. 

How can SD-WAN solve these challenges?

Given its significant impact on user experience, the first aspect to consider is application and network performance. 

Application and network performance

While existing WAN infrastructures based on MPLS and other legacy technologies often provide deterministic network performance, they are slow to set up and complex to manage; simply incapable of delivering the speed and agility required for modern enterprises to adapt in real-time.

A modern, global PoP (Points of Presence) based infrastructure, however, delivers that speed and agility in deployments. 

Enhancing the number of PoPs available, as well as their raw performance capabilities, are two massive variables that enable enterprises to enhance application performance. Hence, IT leaders should search for an SD-WAN vendor with a truly global ‘Middle Mile’ that delivers 99.999% uptime. The vendor should also operate local PoPs in close proximity to key branch offices to ensure sub-20ms latency. 

Central orchestration

IT teams should also be able to scrutinise performance through a cloud-based portal, tweaking preferences to prioritise key applications and traffic flows. To even further optimise network performance, deduplication and compression technologies can help significantly reduce file sizes, for even greater gains. 

It’s also worth noting that built-in WAN optimisation capabilities, deep application analytics, and direct connectivity to leading IaaS, SaaS, and UCaaS providers, should all be on the list of a vendor’s key features, all helping to deliver optimal application performance and increase business agility!

Last Mile Services

Finally, given its significant impact on overall network performance, maximising the potential of the Last Mile Services leveraged to connect branch offices to the WAN is also important.  

While regional connectivity providers usually provide these services, some SD-WAN vendors already enjoy robust partnerships with global Tier-1 ISPs, enabling them to manage and optimise the experiences from a single platform, across the world, guaranteed under a single, global SLA. 

The right vendor will ensure around-the-clock monitoring of links, packet loss, and latency, proactively addressing any network issues to identify, analyse and resolve any link performance and availability issues.

It also means a consistent experience for IT teams in collaborating with their suppliers, whether troubleshooting issues, procuring new services or attempting to find new optimisations – one vendor, one port of call, one answer – it’s just so much easier!

What ROI can enterprises expect from the right SD-WAN solution?

If you can find a vendor that enables you to tick each one of those features off a list, you’ll be sure to experience:

Reduced connectivity costs

Better user experience and higher productivity

Reduced number of vendors to manage

Architectural simplicity

Easier, faster change management from days/weeks to hours/days

Fewer support/escalation issues

And ultimately, a truly optimised and more reliable global network. One that makes collaboration easy, enables seamless transitions from higher-cost MPLS services, and straightforward migrations to cloud services. 

In turn, enabling more productive IT staff and a proactive approach to network management and orchestration, allowing enterprises to be more agile and better enabled to deal with whatever tomorrow brings.