The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is catching on. According to Gartner, 30% of enterprises will have an SD-WAN by 2020. Drivers of SD-WAN interest include the growth of cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and a general increase in mobility. These three factors have put new levels of pressure on existing WANs.

SD-WAN offers a solution to these drivers of change. By making WAN functionality available through a centrally managed, uniform appliance that connects through virtually any cable or broadband provider, SD-WAN can be more flexible and economical than existing WAN options. As the SD-WAN rubber hits the road and gets into broad usage, though, a question emerges: How do you really make it work for your business?

What to Look for in an SD-WAN Solution

Choosing the right SD-WAN solution is the first step to success. To help sort out the top features you should look for, Gartner outlines the following four characteristics that an effective SD-WAN solution should support:

  • Must support multiple access types – You should be able to choose the right kind of access for your business, whether that’s MPLS for certain high priority applications, Internet where you need to get closer to Internet based applications such as Microsoft Office 365 or even wireless for kiosk-type based services and sites.
  • Can do dynamic path selection – How can you leverage different access types? One approach is to create policies to send the right kind of traffic type over the most optimal transport type. Traffic shaping policies and dynamic routing protocol-type methodologies allow for an application itself to take the right kind of transport out to the end destinations. For example, if YouTube traffic gets too high on one access path to your network, you can re-route it so more mission critical traffic gets through.
  • Simple management interface – A centralized control portal enables you to manage policies across your wide area network. It should let you see how your applications are performing and enable you to deploy new sites easily with zero-touch provisioning.
  • Must support VPNs and NFV Your goal to be to have a single overlay network that supports virtualization functions like WAN optimization, site-based security on firewalls, network address translation and vCPE.

Get the Best Results

These features will help you increase visibility, reduce network complexity and increase the overall agility of your network.  With SD-WAN, you can get your users closer to the cloud applications they need without causing a network bottleneck in your data center.  The trick is selecting the best SD-WAN strategy for your business so you get the results you want.

Want to learn how? Watch the on demand webcast event Best Practices for Getting Real Results from your SD-WAN to get more insights that will help you build out your SD-WAN strategy.

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