SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) is a well-known, feature-packed technology that is able to centralize security, networking, management, and reporting in a single unified platform. It is an ideal infrastructure upgrade for corporations with cloud solutions.
SD-WAN offers exceptional traffic segmentation along with improved visibility and management features to help businesses enhance their application performance and reduce networking costs.
This technology comes with its own consequences, especially regarding deployment, security, and quality of service. SD-WAN network technology is certainly not as simple to implement and optimize as it sounds.
Let’s see what the common SD-WAN challenges are and how your IT team can address them:
Common SD-WAN Challenges and its Solutions:
Some of the core features of SD-WAN, like deployment of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), are quite appealing, but still, the edge security changes when you use such a type of networking infrastructure.
As enterprises migrate to cloud solutions, the data is also transferred from data centers to edge devices at various branches. Deploying virtualized instances and hardware with security policies accessed through a GUI sounds easy, but it indeed comes with its own risks.
IT teams are familiar with deploying IPsec VPNs for years now; hence they’re quite well-versed with SD-WAN VPN security. One of the main advantages of SD-WAN is the granular security policies, and IT teams need to pay close attention to it.
Typical edge security is transforming nowadays as enterprises are migrating to cloud networking solutions. Data is now widely being stored in mobile technology, causing the edge to no longer be the perimeter. Seeing this, SD-WAN network solutions must be highly secure with proper configuration as per the enterprises’ unique requirements.
Say, for example, distributed denial-of-service protection should be provisioned as a cloud-based feature as it redirects the traffic to stop the attack instantly while preventing an outage.
Another great example is well-integrated UTM (Unified Threat Management) as a core step of the SD-WAN decision-making procedure. Enterprise IT often goes through various tough challenges when deploying services as per their business requirements. Thus, it is essential for your teams to hone up the skills and get expertise needed to understand and offer right security policies to ensure the UTM deployment is optimal and free from risks.
2. Selection of Network Connectivity
One of the main reasons why most enterprises choose SD-WAN is due to reduced total cost of ownership. As compared to traditional networking solutions, SD-WAN can direct your network traffic to multiple pathways as per the transmission type. And, this is one of the significant advantages of it.
Often, your network teams might misinterpret price differences in SD-WAN solutions. In many cases, SD-WAN cost savings are directly related to low network performance factors such as high latency or lack of support in outage situations or less supportive SLAs. Sometimes, the downtime might be too long, or available pathways might not be distinct enough.
No doubt, cost savings may be alluring at first, but SD-WAN’s design and network connectivity may pose critical risks as you go ahead. When costs are too low, IT teams need to inquire about SLAs (Service-level agreements) and the support team’s expertise.
3. Network resiliency
Network resiliency is again a vital part of the design of SD-WAN solutions. Vendors often focus on SD-WAN technology but overlook the significance of underlying network connectivity. Myriads of vendors market about high network uptime, yet IT teams should pay attention to the network infrastructure design.
Many designs offer dual providers to increase the uptime, but often the vendors aren’t much diverse in their offerings. This results in common points in the network infrastructure. Check the design first to avoid outages that end up increasing your business costs.
SD-WAN is often looked at as a simplified solution, where support, configuration, and resource provisioning are all managed in-house. However, only a few corporations are able to deal with such a type of network solution. Before adopting an SD-WAN solution, enterprises need to be armed up with optimal skill sets and talent to efficiently manage the network in-house.
Even if it is a self-managed, DIY technology, businesses must be well-aware of the challenges and deployment risks SD-WAN might pose. Some vendors only offer plans based on a single-pane-of-glass self-managed configuration and support approach.
Enterprises must carefully ponder upon the provisioning, traffic routing, and security policies of SD-WAN solution.
5. QoS (Quality of Service)
The market has researched enough about MPLS vs. SD-WAN solutions, but many overlook the concept of QoS.
With a traditional MPLS solution, service providers offer end-to-end QoS (Quality of Service) through six settings that allocate applications into service-level categories.
On the other hand, SD-WAN service providers do not offer end-to-end prioritization. However, SD-WAN offers efficient traffic segmentation, enhanced packet loss detection, and path selection. No matter whether it’s MPLS or internet-based SD-WAN, the traffic movement is bound to network delay.
The real factor that decides whether the connection is ideal is monitoring latency and SLAs between endpoints- and not the technology itself.
Finally, the final challenge of SD-WAN is BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device. It’s a trend of employees using their own devices to access enterprise data or systems. The devices used here can be their personal smartphone, portable hard drive, laptop, tablet, or any other IT device.
One of the bonuses of cloud-based applications is their flexibility. Users are free to bring their own devices to work and seamlessly access the public cloud network connectivity between work and personal devices. In such circumstances, IT teams might hesitate whether to use security policies to ban these devices or reap benefits of cloud providing such ease-of-access.
Studies have proven that most employees utilize five devices, viz. business and BYOD- at any one moment. Each device can access any cloud application through a browser or apps, allowing users to get seamless access at work throughout the day.
Now, there’s no quick solution to the BYOD challenge. IT teams need to analyze the traffic just like any other data that moves through the WAN. Traffic analysis needs granular reporting to classify traffic as per the acceptable risk your business has agreed. IT teams can deploy techniques such as intrusion detection, content filtering, etc., to secure the network.
Bottom-line is having greater visibility into the network traffic will derive key stats, helping IT teams to make right policy decisions when deploying BYOD SD-WAN.
With the rapidly evolving SD-WAN technology, there arise many challenges and risks as well. To tackle the challenges, businesses must have enough expertise to deploy the best possible SD-WAN configuration.
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