Best practices to maximize the value of our SD-WAN network
Traditional wide-area networks (WANs) rely on connectivity methods like multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to maximize the efficiency of data movement throughout a network. These circuits are costly and don’t typically deliver superior performance. This has created increasing interest in moving data through the cloud via a software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN).
There are many reasons enterprises may opt to deploy an SD-WAN rather than a traditional WAN infrastructure. For example, enterprises can quickly and easily connect a central office to remote and home offices, allowing employees to work from anywhere. By intelligently routing traffic, SD-WANs can help mitigate latency issues and ensure employees can work effectively. An efficient SD-WAN can help enterprises reduce IT costs, improve productivity, and provide much greater flexibility to scale operations to meet market needs.
Gaining the benefits of an SD-WAN is not as simple as picking one up off the shelf. Enterprises should understand their own needs to ensure their network architecture will meet those needs. They should understand best practices associated with SD-WAN deployments to get all the benefits an SD-WAN can provide.
Planning and design will determine architecture parameters
First and foremost, enterprises must plan and design what their network will look like before they get started. A well-planned and designed architecture requires understanding requirements for:
- Network topology
- Broadband and bandwidth
- Application traffic patterns
Network topology is crucial to routing
The physical and logical arrangement of nodes and connections can drastically affect the utility of your network, as network architectures must be designed to work with, rather than against, this structure. Understanding how traffic will flow through the network is crucial for determining the optimal placement of SD-WAN gateways to ensure efficient traffic routing.
Understand broadband and bandwidth needs
To determine whether your SD-WAN network will meet your business needs, it is crucial to understand how much broadband and bandwidth you require. Businesses simply sending emails or other low-bandwidth data transfers might need only a little, whereas those that regularly video conference with many other people might require a lot. Your SD-WAN solution must be appropriately scaled to your network traffic.
Different applications create different requirements
Latency, bandwidth, and security needs can differ greatly between applications. Knowing how applications will affect traffic patterns in your network is crucial to ensuring your SD-WAN architecture is planned and designed to meet those needs.
Consider advanced security capabilities
Proper security measures are crucial in ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your business network. Different enterprises will have different network security needs, and SD-WAN networks can support a large variety of them. So, it’s important to understand what your security needs are, which existing security methods are in place, and which you should implement as part of your SD-WAN network architecture.
- Make sure to thoroughly evaluate the security features of your desired SD-WAN solution and work closely with your IT security team to implement any necessary additional measures.
- Ensuring your SD-WAN network has built-in encryption is a best practice. It’s a straightforward and effective way to ensure your network will prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, particularly when the solution is deployed over the internet.
- An SD-WAN can also provide advanced firewall capabilities to filter and block malicious traffic. Be sure to configure your SD-WAN solution’s firewall according to your business’s security policies and in line with industry best practices.
If your business already has a comprehensive security infrastructure in place, ensure your SD-WAN solution can integrate with it seamlessly. This will maintain a consistent level of security across your network.
SD-WAN networks also support the zero-trust security model, an approach that assumes all network traffic is potentially malicious. Authentication and authorization are required before any connected device can access any resources, reducing the risk of insider threats.
Plan deployments to support different use cases
It’s also important to consider how your SD-WAN will be deployed. Depending on your specific business needs, you may choose to deploy your SD-WAN in a physical or virtual environment, on-premises, or in the cloud.
When choosing a deployment model, consider factors such as cost, scalability, and security requirements. It is crucial to select a deployment model that aligns with your business’s goals, resources, and circumstances.
- Enterprises that need their SD-WAN to support many different physical business locations, such as branch offices, should consider an on-premises deployment. The devices are deployed on-site and can be managed in-house.
- For enterprises that need to support more remote employees working from home or on the road, a cloud-based SD-WAN may suit their needs better. It eliminates the need for on-premises equipment and can provide secure access for remote users.
- Many enterprises need to support both branches and remote employees. Hybrid SD-WAN solutions likely suit their needs the best. In-office employees can be supported with physical devices deployed at the office locations, and remote employees can enjoy secure access from anywhere via the cloud.
Test and validate before deployment
Before implementing an SD-WAN in a production environment, it’s essential to run extensive testing and simulate real-world scenarios. This ensures it can handle projected network traffic and meet performance and reliability requirements.
Testing and validating your SD-WAN solution before deployment can identify any issues or potential areas for improvement, ensuring a smoother implementation and reliable network performance.
- Conduct testing in a real-world environment to simulate actual network conditions and ensure the solution can handle peak traffic loads and different application and user types.
- Test the failover and redundancy mechanisms of your SD-WAN solution to ensure it can maintain network connectivity even in the event of device or link failures.
- Use network performance testing tools to evaluate the solution’s impact on overall network performance and latency.
Maximize value with Quality of Service policies
An SD-WAN network may be the optimal solution for your needs, but if it isn’t moving data traffic properly, it may fail to meet those needs or do so inefficiently.
Quality of Service (QoS) policies prioritize critical network traffic over non-essential traffic. Implementing QoS policies ensures mission-critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources. QoS policies also help ensure a seamless user experience and reduce the impact of network congestion.
How QoS policies are implemented will depend on your application requirements and priority user groups. Different applications have varying network requirements, such as bandwidth and latency. It is essential to understand these requirements and assign appropriate QoS policies to ensure the best possible performance.
Prioritizing traffic based on user groups can help ensure that essential business processes and remote users have access to the necessary network resources, even during times of high network activity.
Maintain efficiency with real-time performance monitoring and measuring
Monitoring QoS policies regularly makes it easier to identify any issues and make necessary adjustments to optimize network performance continually. Using real-time analytics and reporting tools, your IT teams can track application performance, network uptime, troubleshooting requirements, and other metrics to ensure optimal network performance.
- Regular network monitoring can identify any inefficiencies and help you make informed decisions to improve network performance.
- Consider setting up automated alerts for critical performance thresholds to enable quick response times when issues arise.
- Ensure your monitoring tools have visibility into all parts of your network, including the WAN, LAN, and cloud deployments.
- Implement standardized reporting across all locations to identify patterns and trends and allow for easy comparison between locations.
- Create performance baselines to establish a benchmark for network performance and identify any deviations that may require attention.
Inseego’s 5G SD EDGE platform optimizes your SD-WAN solution
Inseego is a leading provider of 5G, SD-WAN, and SASE solutions. With Inseego's 5G SD EDGE solution, enterprises can benefit from comprehensive tools and features designed to simplify SD-WAN deployment and management, and optimize network performance and security.
Some key benefits of Inseego’s 5G SD EDGE solution include:
- Easy implementation: Using a single-pane-of-glass management console, businesses can quickly deploy and configure their SD-WAN solution across all locations.
- Enhanced security: Built-in SASE and security features, such as integrated next-generation firewalls, zero-trust network access, and encryption, ensure the confidentiality and integrity of the network.
- Increased network visibility: Easily monitor the network performance and data usage for every branch, cloud application, and data center all in one place.
- Automation of load balancing & failover: Enable networks to automatically allocate resources to different internet connection points to optimize performance.
- Scalability: Easily expand the network and add new locations and end users without compromising performance.
Inseego also offers ongoing support and monitoring for its SD EDGE solution, ensuring that businesses can easily track and measure the performance of their SD-WAN deployment. With Inseego’s expertise and cutting-edge technology, businesses can confidently deploy SD-WANs to reap the benefits of a more efficient, cost-effective, and secure network.