Blog: True SD-WAN Requirements

By Ritesh Mukherjee |

NFL games are not just won on Sundays. They are won with preparation, strategy, and practice on the remaining days. Similarly for a network to work smoothly – we need to define requirements ahead of time that will enable us to pick the right solutions.

As we went through our customer proof of concepts (PoCs) and deployments over the course of 2017, our data and research shared one common finding among enterprises and operators: Software defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is not living up to its expectations.

Organizations with SD-WAN deployments in place for less than a year are already switching SD-WAN vendors, and/or have begun the painful process of modifying their networks to accommodate SD-WAN. There is no doubt SD-WAN with a hybrid network architecture brings benefits to the network while offsetting costs. However, it introduces other unanticipated complexities.

Our SD-WAN Requirement Short List:

Open Networking User Group (ONUG) has outlined a basic set of requirements that serves as a good starting point for SD-WAN. However, to realize the true value of SD-WAN, we must expand the requirements to match what enterprises really want.

After a year of observation and network deployments, we’ve compiled a short list of must-have SD-WAN requirements for networks to run smoothly:

  • Secure Virtual Networks: Any SD-WAN solution needs to work across global and regional networks, branch and remote offices, and clouds (AWS, Azure, GCP). It must be able to work across network boundaries, deal with firewalls, switch paths as needed, and establish policies across various networks without requiring complex out-of-band routing protocols or involvement of a central controller every time.
  • Tunnel Free Performance: SD-WAN implementations add huge headers to every packet causing fragmentation, obscurity, and lowers performance. SD-WAN solutions should not require changes to MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) or other network modifications.
  • Dynamic Hybrid WAN with Wireless Connectivity : Businesses need 100% uptime making 4G LTE a must-have for failover. SD-WAN implementations must be able to switch between 4G LTE and wired networks instantaneously. They must not require to have a back-up tunnel up over the 4G LTE network all the time.
  • Routing with Words: A digital organization needs to be able to make changes to networks instantly. The network should be able to understand business logic in plain human terms so that complex ACLs and settings do not need to be pushed out to every node.
  • Application Visibility and Control: With encrypted traffic on the rise – SD-WAN solutions must be able to classify application traffic without looking into the payload. Once classified the solution should be able to intelligently make decisions on choosing paths, load balancing, SLA resolution, and quality of service.
  • Project Wide Licensing: SD-WAN vendors need to move away from hardware-centric pricing and charge customers what they actually use rather than requiring them to over provision for peak demand. You shouldn’t pay for what you don’t use and you shouldn’t have to pay extra to get all the features.

Ready to check off all the boxes on our short list? To prevent disappointment, SD-WAN implementations must move away from underperforming and inflexible hub-and-spoke models. The 128T Networking Platform provides the ideal solution to SD-WAN with Session Smart Technology.

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