If you haven’t heard about software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) yet, you soon will. SD-WAN is rapidly gaining momentum and market intelligence firm IDC predicts the rapidly expanding global SD-WAN infrastructure market, excluding managed services, will reach US$5.3 billion by 2023.1

SD-WAN uses software overlay to manage network performance. A secure SD-WAN solution—one that has security built in from the ground up—lets you manage both the networking aspect and the security aspect in one platform.

Secure SD-WAN uses any combination of network underlay technologies to transport traffic, which it manages intelligently across the WAN. It can help increase a business’s agility and productivity, and, in some cases, reduce costs.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that SD-WAN is emerging as a cost-effective and enormously powerful way to manage distributed and branch networks. However, not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal, and organisations can fail to achieve the anticipated return on investment if they don’t choose the right SD-WAN solution, implemented in the right way.

There are five critical factors you must consider before implementing SD-WAN. Getting these factors right can let you unlock significant benefits and prepare for a digital future in which network performance can make all the difference to your organisation’s customer and employee experiences as well as your ability to compete.

Five questions to ask

1. Does the solution offer a co-managed option?

Secure SD-WAN is an inherently flexible technology that lets you determine how it should be managed. If you have limited in-house IT resources, you can choose a fully managed solution that puts the burden of management entirely on your provider. Or, for more control and visibility, you can select a co-managed option.

Co-managed secure SD-WAN solutions can deliver a strong return on investment. They provide control and visibility so you can see the health of your network and make changes on the fly, without waiting for your provider to action your request. Most secure SD-WAN providers in Australia don’t offer co-managed services with a configurable, flexible, self-service portal with role-based access for customers. So, it’s important to choose a vendor that can offer this capability.

2. Can changes to your network be provisioned at speed?

If you need to make changes to the network, the likelihood is that you need those changes to be actioned straight away. Waiting weeks for requests to be actioned slows down your business and can also impact the customer experience. When your network connectivity is critical to your business competitiveness it’s essential to choose a provider that can deliver network implementations in days rather than weeks and can give you real-time control over ad hoc requests.

3. Can you achieve end-to-end network visibility and control?

With a faster network comes the risk of faster cyberattacks and additional security risks. You need end-to-end visibility and control so you can keep your network safe and determine whether your network is performing according to service level agreements (SLAs). A single network provider can make it easier for you to gain this control. And, a secure SD-WAN solution that offers network and security management through centralised visibility via a single pane of glass can dramatically simplify the complexity and costs associated with network management.

4. Does the vendor offer responsive support?

Your network is the lifeblood of your business; when your network goes down, your business goes down with it. So, you need to know that there will be a person standing by to help you address any issues and maximise the uptime of your network. Choose a provider that offers responsive support to ensure your network remains up and running.

5. Does your solution include enterprise-grade security technology?

Too often, businesses have to choose between having a high performing network and having a secure network. With the right secure SD-WAN solution you don’t have to choose, because security is built in from the start.

TPG is a leading innovator when it comes to networks. We’ve teamed up with Fortinet, a global leader in security-driven networking, to provide a secure SD-WAN solution that delivers high-speed, high-performing networking that is secure and robust.

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