The pursuit of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) hasn’t slowed, and there’s no shortage of vendors offering what’s becoming a commodity. Many companies claim to offer SD-WAN, but not all solutions are equal.
There are two features emerging that serve to differentiate the product and help enterprises choose a solution that will meet their comprehensive networking needs and offer conveniences to the network team:
Security: Since SD-WAN has been on the market, there have been efforts to solve security issues. Many of these issues are not originating with the SD-WAN, but simply are a byproduct of an expanded security plane that occurs with cloud solutions. The network no longer has a clearly defined perimeter, so both the networking solutions and the security solutions require a new approach.
To solve this, many enterprises were forced to employ a third-party security solution that closed the gap in network security. Now, new integrated security features are appearing in some SD-WAN solutions, allowing those providers to differentiate themselves and offering enterprises a simplified way to address network security.
Management: The management console is becoming increasingly important in the selection of your SD-WAN solution. It determines how quickly you can get familiar with a new networking approach and make necessary changes. Some consoles may require only a few minutes to get comfortable while others may require days.
It’s critical that you are able to understand what is happening on the network. In the past, you may have needed to probe or run scripts to get information about events on routers; new SD-WAN services offer a consolidated site metrics view. You’ll see what’s happening with the core network characteristics, such as latency, loss, throughput, and jitter. It’s important to find out whether a particular solution offers near real-time metrics, which can help you with planning or assessing historical performance, but it’s not helpful in diagnosing a current situation. The ideal is real-time metrics, but check to see whether you will have aggregate visibility for locations, as well as upstream-downstream performance.
SD-WAN solutions are also expanding their capabilities in terms of offering optimization for routing by the application and delivering application-layer metrics. In order to access this feature, you’ll need to identify applications, which your SD-WAN solution can do using information from the source/destination IP address, protocol, and port number.
Some applications may share protocol, so the SD-WAN solution should provide deep packet inspection so that these applications can be differentiated.
Look for an SD-WAN solution that will display the metrics relevant to a particular application, offering a mean opinion score either for paths that support voice traffic or even for each individual call. Other solutions focus on metrics that are common for monitoring application performance, such as server response time or transaction time.
These application-layer insights may not seem like a must have for your organization, but troubleshooting any application performance problem becomes an easier task when you have these metrics. It makes resolving an issue with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider much easier.
If you’re in the process of comparing SD-WAN solutions, look for these management and security differentiators to ensure you implement a networking product that is easy to use and doesn’t require additional, third-party security solutions. Contact us at Compass Solutions for more information about SD-WAN.