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SD-WAN Implementation isn’t as easy as 1,2,3

March 12, 2020
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When companies talk about digital transformation, the reality is that bringing mission-critical applications to the cloud isn’t a company’s end goal – it’s a means to an end. Businesses are looking to harness the full benefits of SaaS and cloud-based infrastructure to reduce costs and improve scalability, accessibility, and security. But getting there, however, requires re-thinking the one-time staple of enterprise connectivity – MPLS circuits. MPLS circuits weren’t built for the cloud era or designed to support this type of site-to-site traffic!

The issue with MPLS is that it takes traffic far off its optimal path, routing data to and from the corporate network and data center. For MPLS to work for delivering cloud services requires a termination point for access, pushing companies to adopt WAN optimization appliances on each end. MPLS also adds complexity and cost to the branch network. These qualities make it hard for systems running only MPLS to keep up with bandwidth needs required for the cloud, mobile, branch networking, and IoT.

Moving to SD-WAN

That’s why many companies are moving to software-defined WAN. SD-WAN technologies use different uplinks to route traffic based on application requirements, and it introduces software-defined control functions to bring more efficiency to network operations. But deciding to migrate to SD-WAN, isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers either. It takes careful planning and networking experience. Many vendors sell SD-WAN appliances, offering support, but, ultimately, it’s still the responsibility of the customer to provide features and correctly align security policies and traffic routing. In a DIY SD-WAN scenario, customers are also on the hook for ongoing management and troubleshooting, which can often be challenging with software-defined network architecture.

There is an alternative, however – managed SD-WAN services. Managed SD-WAN usually includes working with a technology partner that helps with vendor selection, provisioning, and provides continued maintenance. Why else does a managed SD-WAN partner bring to the table? Let’s dig deeper.

Overcoming challenges often requires a partnership

SD-WAN makes automated real-time decisions based on performance and other criteria set by network operators to ‘decide’ how to route traffic. But because these functions are automated, it also becomes harder to identify why transport issues are happening. This is especially true teams that don’t have an SD-WAN specialist on staff or the tools to identify issues. A technology partner can help companies understand, visualize, and troubleshoot problems, and adjust policies accordingly within their SD-WAN architecture. GBS Corp is one CTG client who experienced this recently when transitioning to an SD-WAN solution. The GBS team noticed that after deploying SD-WAN, the company’s overall network performance was still poor, and they were stuck.

Joseph Berenyi, Manager of Corporate Information Systems at GBS, explains that it was much harder to tell what issues were going on, compared to when the company was relying on MPLS and internet on two separate firewalls.

The GBS team turned to CTG, who helped escalate the situation with the SD-WAN provider. After some digging, they found their firewall configurations failed to allow the through traffic that GBS specified. They determined the application had an issue with port ranges and traffic translation. As a result, the SD-WAN provider had to update the app to let the traffic flow accordingly.

“We utilized CTG as an escalation point since we are very hands-on at our company because we knew that they would make sure what I needed was done in a timely manner.”

– Joseph Berenyi, Manager of Corporate Information Systems

Learning as you grow

If your company is curious about the benefits of SD-WAN but is also nervous about how the technology can make your network more complex, talk to CTG. We helped GBS Corp and many other customers with their SD-WAN selection, deployment, troubleshooting, and providing ongoing support. Read more about GBS Corp’s SD-WAN experience for tips on what to expect. We can help you overcome SD-WAN challenges and reap the full benefits of cloud infrastructure and a more agile network. Don’t wait to make your move!