5 Key Features to Consider When Looking for an SD WAN Vendor

Upgrading an enterprise wide area network (WAN) to a software-defined WAN (SD WAN) is a big commitment. Before choosing an SD WAN vendor, you need to know what services you should look for and how these features can help your company become more efficient and cost-effective. An ideal SD WAN provider should be able to offerthe following:

  1. Transport-Independent Overlay
    Maintaining different types of networks and transports used to mean needing separate WANs for each. This setup requires the installation of manual configurations on every device and constantly finding workarounds just to implement iterations and policy changes. Your provider can help your company overcome this hurdle by setting up an SD WAN, which is designed to be carrier-agnostic and transport-agnostic.

Compared to legacy WAN that can only carry traffic through a single transport, such as through expensive MPLS links, SD WAN can be used on multiple transport options. The technology enables consistent WAN on any transport, regardless if it’s using MPLS, 4G/LTE, VSAT,broadband, or hybrid. With this capability, your company has the option of using less-expensive transport technologies, like broadband, to carry non-critical traffic.

  1. Centralized Management and Zero-Touch Provisioning

Centralized management is one of the primary draws of SD WAN. It allows network managers to make changes or update policies from a central location and deploy them globally, across all devices. This leads to a drastic simplification of the management process and the ability to effortlessly provide users with consistent performance levels. At the same time, the automated, zero-touch provisioning also eliminates the need to send skilled IT personnel to other branches and remote offices for business-aligned orchestrations.

  1. Hardened Security Across the Network

Building a consistent security framework has always been a challenge in WAN due to the lack of a unified policy across the network infrastructure. This isn’t the case with SD WAN. In order to keep the network secure and to minimize threats from the different components of the network, the network can be programmed to adopt trust models. A zero trust model, for example, will require mutual authentication from each component and authorization from all devices before they can be allowed into the network. In addition to trust model options, your SD WAN vendor should also be able to offer you options for integrated PKI, high-grade encryption, and inbound DDOS protection.

  1. Network Segmentation
    Network segmentation is necessary to reduce the attack surface within networks. The process works by providing protection not just at the perimeter but also for each individual segment created within the network. Your SD WAN provider should give you options on how to isolate different types of traffic and various applications and users. Segmentation not only helps you minimize threats, it also allows you to scale the different components of the network based on their specific needs. With this option, your IT team can separate segments for different applications (like guest Wi-Fi, business applications, voice calls, and PCI traffic) and allow each to work independently and efficiently.
  2. Access to Advanced Analytics
    Last but not the least, your SD WAN provider should be able to give you insights regarding your wide area network. These details include network operations and application availability and visibility. Access to these details, coupled with the professional opinion of your SD WAN vendor and IT personnel, can help your company fine tune the network and plan for what-if scenarios.

These features will help your company maximize your existing bandwidth while significantly boosting productivity—all without the added cost. With these enabled, your company will be able to respond to changing business needs at a much faster rate.