Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) have many benefits, but their key advantages are improving the user experience, leveraging WANs more efficiently, reducing costs and simplifying operations. Proper planning and design of an SD-WAN deployment makes for a smoother process while minimizing potential issues.
Optimizing an SD-WAN deployment, particularly a large-scale one, requires a structured methodology. It’s critical to spend time in the beginning on a thorough requirement-gathering process, which can reduce the number of issues that arise during deployment. Rigorous planning allows for better design, which in turn supports the development of templates that speed up deployment, reduce mistakes and take advantage of economies of scale.
Organizations with just a few sites may get by without templates, but for those tackling hundreds of sites, templates save a lot of time. Scripts or application programming interfaces optimize the deployment further by bringing automation to the process.
Start an SD-WAN Deployment with a Comprehensive Review
Issues may be inevitable, but we aim to minimize them as much as possible. One potential concern is the existence of devices that an organization hasn’t accounted for but need to integrate properly so that redundancy and functionality can continue as before. With SD-WAN, overlooking a component and trying to wing it later doesn’t work.
That’s why we spend significant time reviewing the site design, including how many and what type of circuits are available at each site. We want to ensure that all the components are there, that they will integrate well with the SD-WAN devices and that the failovers work like they need to.
Our team typically works with organizations on a cutover pilot for each type of location, such as branch offices or data centers. The pilot, guided by the template, lets us test the performance of the SD-WAN solution in place. It’s an opportunity to catch issues — logistics concerns or configuration mismatches, for example — and flesh out the process.
Then, the process tends to be much smoother when it’s time to deploy hundreds of sites. At that point, even if an organization decides to do the rest of the work itself, collaborating on a pilot gives us a chance to show its IT staff the ropes of deployment.
Consider Capacity and Flexibility for Future SD-WAN Use Cases
The initial deployment, of course, is just the beginning. Organizations typically don’t deploy full SD-WAN functionality on day one. Most often, they get comfortable with about 20 percent — whatever is required to address current business requirements — and as new use cases arise, they explore the other 80 percent of functionality.
Being able to leverage that capacity down the road, however, requires upfront planning to make sure the solution can support future needs. In some cases, CDW takes on a consultative role to guide customers to align the solution to new business requirements. In other cases, we take a hands-to-keyboard approach to further adopt the platform.
Whichever strategy an organization pursues, it has made a major investment in an SD-WAN solution. The right foundation can put it in the best position to use that solution to the fullest — now and in the future.