An SD WAN is a software-defined wide area network. In the ideal scenario, these networks offer a number of advantages, but this has led to many pretenders who call themselves SD WAN providers, even though they don’t have all of the key functionality. Here are a few tips on what to look for when choosing a managed SD WAN provider.
The SD WAN system should let you prioritize traffic to minimize chokepoints and maximize performance. SD WAN solutions offered by services like Masergy have very high levels of reliability. They let you centrally manage all hardware and software with almost no issues. Research the uptime statistics and the service levels promised by the software-defined WAN provider before making a decision.
You need to work with an SD WAN provider who offers versatility. For example, you want them to be able to support almost any type of WAN service. You want them to be able to integrate your wireless internal Ethernet and access to the internet, wired and wireless connection points inside of a facility, and the corporate network between various sites. They also need to be able to support any software and smart device you utilize, such as routers that double as firewalls or automatic message backup devices.
Flexibility also refers to scalability and layers. You need an SD WAN provider who can add your newly acquired site to the network as soon as it is turned on, and you want one that can apply layers, such as a second security layer when you set up retail sites, to prevent tampering by anyone who may try to access your network.
Service chaining refers to the collaboration of multiple security software applications toward a common goal; for SD WAN, the most common application of service chaining is IT security. You should find out if a software-defined WAN provider supports any security vendors you want to use and any suite of software you consider essential. For example, you don’t want to give up intrusion detection systems because the cheapest SD WAN provider doesn’t support it. You don’t want your private cloud to be compromised by third party software that doesn’t handle it as well.
Conversely, an ideal case is an SD WAN system that lets you add network functions for specific sites like WAN optimization for performance and extra levels of security as appropriate.
SD-WAN services can be co-managed or fully managed. Do you want a co-managed system where someone else handles most of the resource allocation requests or monitors it live while your system administrators retain equal authority? Or do you want to have a fully managed option so you don’t have to have fully trained IT staff on hand to manage the priorities of your routers? Once you know what you want, you can pick a service provider who offers it.
Learn about the reliability of any managed network service before you research anything else because you cannot afford to have your IT security compromised or system shut down by an overload of incoming traffic. Know what type of management you want and then pick a service provider who can take on the degree of management you need.
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