The ABC’s of IT part 3: SD-Wan solutions

Stumped every time you read about SDWan solutions? Don’t worry – our new series is all about understanding the ins and outs of IT and OT so you can accelerate your business’ performance.

Maintaining the strength, speed and stability of your internet connectivity can be frustrating. And it gets worse if you’re trying to connect multiple branches or offices.

Generally, connection quality tends to dip when you move further away from the head office.

This make sense. Data has to jump between different networks to cover significant distances. Some of these networks simply aren’t designed for high performance or big volumes of traffic. The result? Your connectivity slows down.

It’s like a car on a road trip. When the main highways are busy, you can use side roads and back routes. You’ll get there eventually, but it can take longer than planning.

From a data perspective, there are a few ways to work around this “traffic”. You could install private MPLS networks where needed. That guarantees performance and connectivity, but it’s pricey.

You could also consider your connectivity hardware every year or so. That’s just as expensive, and impractical.

The lack of solutions has forced many business owners to leave their connection to chance – until now. SD-WAN, Software Defined Wide Area Network, is software that allows you to manage the way data moves across the devices that make up your network from a single management portal.

It’s a technology full of potent possibilities – but with over 100 vendors now offering solutions, it can be tricky to find the right supplier. Here’s what to look out for.

SD-WAN puts the work in network

When you start looking for an SD-Wan provider, start by scanning the provider’s range of shared transport solutions.

It’s a case of the more, the merrier. Good providers empower you to connect across different options, including everyday broadband, LTE and even MPLS setups. That means much better stability.

Look out for the option to prioritise connections and set backup options should the primary transport fail. That way, if your Wi-Fi crashes, the system will automatically revert to the best available connection. No more frozen moments during meetings.

A CTO KNOWS: Stability trumps inconsistent speeds all day long.

Branching out

Another hallmark of a quality SD-Wan solution is the ability to spin up additional sites seamlessly via a single management platform.

In the past, adding a new storefront or office would involve the painful process of buying routers, finding the best high-speed provider in the area, and configuring new firewalls to ensure the new devices could be safely integrated into the existing framework.

Thankfully, with SD-WAN, that’s all changed – if you choose the right provider.

Look for one that offers the ability to manage every aspect of the network from a single platform, because there are some that still require you to use multiple management tools that will only slow you down.

A CTO KNOWS: A single management platform gives you the flexibility to change your network at speed.

A strong SD-Wan is always improving

While it isn’t essential, it may be better in the long run to choose a solution that is constantly optimising itself by monitoring application and network performance and making any necessary changes. Daily software updates are an indicator of this functionality.

Make sure that you have visibility of performance through analytics and reporting features, too. O

Although your network should be able to identify, flag and resolve threats, it’s always worth going through a report to try and understand the root cause and avoid repeated problems.

A CTO KNOWS:  Self-healing solutions save your team time and money.

The Last Word

SD-Wan can be a game changing solution for your business, but just because it’s new, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take good old-fashioned service, support, and the provider’s track record into account when choosing the right provider.

Find a solution that works across multiple connections, is easy to manage, and looks after itself and you’ll take your business to new heights.

Need objective SD-Wan advice? We’re here to help.