One of the common use cases for SD-WAN and related network and managed services is alleviating bandwidth constraints. But how do you identify if there is an SD-WAN opportunity at one of your customers or prospects? There are three discovery questions you can ask to help get the ball rolling:

    1. Is your business increasing its use of software-as-a service applications, like SalesForce, Office 365, WebEx?
      Why is this relevant? These cloud-based applications consume a lot of bandwidth. Without right-sizing the network, their performance and the performance of other applications can suffer.
    2. Are you migrating workloads or frequently accessed databases to public cloud services, like AWS or Azure?  Or even hybrid cloud environments?
      Why is this relevant? Relying on cloud-based resources can create a lot of congestion on networks, particularly when the traffic is going through a hub, like a centralized network-based firewall on an MPLS network. Worker’s rely on these networks to perform and if they don’t work, they’re not happy.
    3. Are there more and more connected devices on your network? Being used for more and more reasons?
      Why is this relevant? Most businesses have more and more connected devices on networks. Tablets, smartphones, etc. Every user expects a good experience. As thermostats, lighting fixtures, refrigerators and more appliances become a part of the IoT, they’ll all consume more and create more congestion on company networks.

There are several solution options once you’ve established that your customer is experiencing bandwidth constraints.

  • Upgrade the current network whether that’s MPLS or VPN over dedicated Internet.
    • That can be costly, disruptive and time-consuming. You might have to upgrade equipment. Rip and replace can be expensive and you’re still reliant on a single connection so there’s no added resilience to that design.
  • Add a broadband Internet connection at each location.
    • While this does a great job of adding bandwidth, it doesn’t really relieve the problem and it only goes so far. To route traffic over the desired connection – the old or the new – usually requires additional equipment at each site and complicated configurations. The separation of traffic between the access links is static. Without sophisticated network management tools, you really don’t know if the problem has truly been solved.

As you can see, the first two options are costly and may only temporarily solve the problem. Then comes  SD-WAN. An SD-WAN solution for this use case typically starts with an additional Internet connection. The Internet connection can be a commercial-grade dedicated Internet or a broadband connection – usually broadband because it offers great price performance.

The SD-WAN solution offers resiliency, customization and easy management of the network. It allows for full utilization of the multiple circuits at each network location. Because the SD-WAN creates a single virtual connection, all the bandwidth may be used across both connections. This creates great value and allows the company to get the most out of the bandwidth at each site.

A robust, enterprise-grade SD-WAN offering like Nitel’s enables traffic shaping & routing at the application level. The business gets to determine which applications are a priority and put the right policy on each application to ensure that it uses the multiple access links appropriately. For example, real-time applications like voice might be prioritized highest and routed over the best path across all the available network circuits. Plus, traffic shaping methods like packet duplication or forward error connection can be employed which further improves the performance of high priority applications like voice or video.

The SD-WAN simplifies management of the network. The analytics and reporting platform enables visibility of network performance at several levels.  The site, the link, and the application level reporting are provided for both availability and utilization all on one software interface and one reporting platform. This greatly improves the ability of the business to the get most from the WAN they are buying and ensures the best possible user experience for workers.

SD-WAN can help solve many of the challenges and issues that IT managers are facing today. Asking good questions can help you discover what opportunities and solutions are available.

Check out the rest of the Guys in Orange videos to learn to learn more on the latest trends.