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Five Things We’ve Learned From SD-WAN Deployments, So Far

By  Regan Hughes,
 1 September 2019


The results we’ve seen from the first couple of years of SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Networks) deployments have been a mixture of reinforcing our initial expectations with a few new surprises. Here are five key things we’ve learned from our initial deployments so far.

1. It’s not about cost savings. The writing was on the wall for this from the start, as New Zealand MPLS circuits aren’t as expensive as they are overseas. For this reason, MPLS still seems to have a role to play in the NZ market. In addition, the cost of SD-WAN equipment, particularly at the data centre, is either in the same ball park or more expensive than the equivalent MPLS WAN equipment. For most customers the real cost benefits of SD-WAN are realised during the operational phase – particularly if they have customer-critical apps.

2. Vendor maturity is such that there is always a compromise. Each vendor is coming from their own strength and trying to fill in the gaps, whether it be a firewall vendor growing a visibility capability, a wireless vendor with great portal and developing security, or a router vendor with strength in routing flexibility and a roadmap around other features. It’s important to know what you value most before choosing the solution.

3. There’s no such thing as a plug and play solution. Initially we thought (and hoped) that SD-WAN would be so simple that our level 1 teams could deploy it. We’ve instead found that in order to achieve a customer’s goal of replacing their existing WAN, it often requires more complexity and design thought than a standard WAN would. Therefore, partnering with the right technology partner from the get-go is crucial.

4. The visibility SD-WAN provides is a star attraction. Customers universally love the visibility SD-WAN provides. They tell us it’s like turning the network from a black box into something they can understand and extract value out of.

5. SD-WAN can simplify connectivity with the public cloud. Connectivity to public cloud providers – for example Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services – can be somewhat complex when using traditional methods, particularly IPSec connectivity to a Firewall which we have found to be notoriously unreliable. Being able to put a virtual SD-WAN device in the cloud can significantly simplify this, making it an added benefit for businesses using, or planning to use, public cloud services.

Watch the video on how SD-WAN has helped Kordia customer, The Wise Group, achieve increased visibility and control here.