Get creative with complexity to achieve SD-WAN simplicityBy Steve Coakley,
“Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity” – Charles Mingus
A blog on SD-WAN may seem an unlikely place to be invoking the words of a jazz legend, but I’d argue that something of the same artfulness and creativity is needed for effective SD-WAN execution. The sweet spot for the breakthrough technology is large organisations using a hybrid combination of public and private networks to connect multiple sites, where the benefits of simplifying and optimising data traffic are too many to ignore.
To use public internet services and unlock the simplicity that SD-WAN promises can be complicated, especially if you try and do it alone. Like every ICT project, it should start with an audit, a review in this case of how data traffic is routed across your infrastructure, the current state of application performance, how traffic is prioritised, and the way hybrid public and private networks combine. Only when you know what you have can you map a journey to what you want, encompassing design, set-up, implementation and ongoing SD-WAN management.
Pinpointing the precise start and endpoints will raise the first and possibly biggest question you have to answer: do you do it yourself or work with a partner?
Pitfalls of DIY
Getting up to speed with new technology will always pose challenges for organisations that may not have the technical skills to optimise an opportunity or the scale and logistics to implement across global locations. These are important considerations for SD-WAN, and because it uses public networks it also demands a high level of competency around security to ensure that locations, applications and end-users are locked down.
A good deal of know-how will also be needed to test and validate new services and ensure they can integrate with underlay networks. You will have to have the capability to build an orchestration layer to manage different connectivity solutions and the multiple vendors that provide them, and you’ll need an understanding of how to configure applications in an SD-WAN environment.
You will also have to consider how you’re going to break out to the public internet, locally or centrally.
Network monitoring becomes more challenging as you try and strike a balance between handing responsibility over to vendors while retaining visibility and control. You have to ensure that whatever you put in place is future proofed and ready to integrate with fast-evolving edge devices, IoT, and VNF (Virtual Network Functions).
Managed service advantage
As with any managed service, the guiding principle is that partnering a service provider allows you to focus more on core business. With SD-WAN, the onus is on finding a specialist across multiple solutions – there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ product – and expertise in right-sizing future networks and optimising the costs of hybrid infrastructure. Perhaps the biggest mistake you could make, if you do it yourself or go with the wrong provider, is paying a premium for legacy and potentially obsolete technology.
At BT, we’re progressive and forward facing with our SD-WAN managed service engagement. Its end-to-end, starts with the critical design phase and then moves on to installation of equipment. This then connects to the central orchestrator which ensures the correct configuration templates are in place. Monitoring and troubleshooting are enhanced giving you the power to diagnose and resolve issues quickly, ensuring performance is always optimised.
All of this takes hard-earned expertise that we’ve developed and honed at our centre of expertise (CoE), a multi-skilled, purpose-built resource that supports our Dynamic Network Services, including SD-WAN. Every client gets the benefit of our CoE, where we pool diverse talent to streamline processes and ensure a delivery experience their needs. When it comes to designing, configuring, managing and securing an SD-WAN, we can help bridge any skills-gap within your team to ensure your business and application needs are met, now and into the future.