Making the Most of SD-WAN With Operational Transformation

Operational transformation is a critical component of successful SD-WAN implementation.

Enterprises are implementing software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to solve a variety of challenges that come with computing in the cloud era. It allows new branch locations to come online in a matter of minutes, offers access to a variety of connectivity formats, and delivers improved visibility and control. It’s a way to deliver bandwidth and performance requirements as specified by each individual application, while improving security and lowering overall costs.

Despite its clear benefits, many enterprises are approaching SD-WAN with a shortsightedness that limits its potential to future-proof the IT environment. Each organization comes to their deployment with a different set of priorities. For some, the focuses are managing high bandwidth costs and creating an alternative to secure, but expensive, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) lines. In other cases, SD-WAN is deployed to accommodate an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy.

SD-WAN delivers measurable benefits even when simply deployed on a device at the edge. Through a secure router, workflows can be sent from a controller that’s managed in the cloud. The challenges in deploying SD-WAN at the edge are minimal, and many enterprises are able to use their existing devices to support the technology.

SD-WAN demands that network administrators change the altitude of their engagement. Using intent-based models, requirements are specified in the abstract rather than in exacting device-centered instructions. This also requires a higher level of interest and interaction with applications residing in the network. There must be more collaboration than what was adequate in the siloed world of legacy, on-site solutions.

It should be clear that the migration to SD-WAN for networking would be a stepping stone to bigger abstraction and operational change. The infrastructure changes that are occurring in the WAN will soon be applied to the wired local area network (LAN), then continue on to the access layer.

This will lead to a more complex networking reality, as network engineers attempt to understand the interdependencies between different systems in different areas of the network. Even if they can map the connections, there may not be tools available to manage them. If networking teams don’t explore this fully, their approach will continue to be siloed and the suppliers of network-managing tools will only follow with that approach.

Operation is only hindered when it is treated as a siloed function. If enterprises are prioritizing the end-user experience, then networking teams must take a broader view and take responsibility for a bigger approach to networking than simply guaranteeing connectivity.

If you’ve been considering SD-WAN for your enterprise, or if you have an SD-WAN solution but are looking for guidance in applying its principles more broadly in your organization, contact us at One Connect. We can help you navigate every aspect of your networking strategy, whether you’re in the early stages of pursuing a network upgrade, you’re in the middle of an SD-WAN implementation, or you simply would like to optimize your SD-WAN experience.