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SD-WAN Fit Points: Cloud Access, Real-Time Apps, and Agility


Looking for an SD-WAN solution that actually measures up to fit all of your business needs? Switching to, or updating your enterprise SD-WAN is not always an easy decision. That’s why Hughes has put together a series of SD-WAN “Fit Point” articles to provide the key considerations and suggested guidelines to take into account when taking on a Managed SD-WAN deployment.

In earlier posts of this SD-WAN fit point blog series, we’ve explored how security, bandwidth, and cost factor into the overall makeup of your network. Now we’ll look at cloud access, real-time applications, and agility and how these points factor into finding your right fit SD-WAN.

When exploring what type of cloud access is required for your business needs, it’s important to know about the nature of the cloud. This dictates that access respond to cloud locations that are dynamic, virtual, and elastic. These cloud points of presence (POPs) will be highly distributed, even though they may be virtual instances of a single cloud service fabric. For organizations with a cloud-first or smart-cloud approach, the distribution and management of access to these POPs requires an SD-WAN solution with large scale cloud infrastructure on-ramps. These on-ramps will assure fast and efficient access to critical cloud services, no matter where they reside at any particular time within the cloud service fabric, delivering more direct access to the cloud services, faster response times, and dependable results right when you need them.

Facilitating such broad and efficient access to multiple cloud POPs requires a robust, network of SD-WAN gateways to ensure that each point is effectively delivering its optimal performance. Cloud exchanges exist where traffic funnels through the network and converges into massive centralized aggregation points where cloud providers can best serve those combined applications and could service requests. SD-WAN gateways that are collocated with cloud exchanges deliver superior performance advantages for cloud service delivery by placing the cloud service and SD-WAN routing access at the same site, thereby reducing latency in the application or service transaction.

Another point that is crucial to the functionality of your network is the role of applications and their real-time prioritization. Both voice and video needs are traditionally key drivers for expanding the need for more bandwidth with low latency and jitter to ensure smooth delivery of your service. Modern collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, and employees working together across multiple platforms extends this service need.

Unified communications as a service (or UCaaS) is a key driver for consolidating traditional analog and collaborative into a common digital operating environment encapsulating voice, video, and other collaborative tools. The greater the number of apps and number of users on your network that need them, the more need your enterprise has for optimization tools, ensuring these network sensitive services deliver adequate performance to users. In this demanding environment, the SD-WAN benefits are numerous. Intelligent path control allows a network to route around congestion, overcoming last mile challenges with broadband service. Additionally, QoS and prioritization schemes allow critical real-time apps to take precedence over less sensitive apps, such as email or software downloads, delivering a better overall user experience.

Leading SD-WAN solutions will also provide automatic and dynamic classification of apps and a multi-level prioritization queue. Another bonus is FEC, or Forward Error Correction, which senses network inefficiencies and replicates critical app data to improve the probability of successful application data delivery, again improving user experience.

If you’re one of the over 25% of organizations who have had to cancel digital initiatives because your network could not handle or adapt to the desired new technology, then you know all too well why network agility is critical. In this modern IT age, the ability to support new and emerging capabilities is fundamental to staying competitive. And an ossified network environment is a detriment.

An SD-WAN solution answers the need for agility by separating the physical underlay connectivity from the overlay management and data planes. This is absolutely a must in a world where new cloud services emerge daily and the ability to adopt a new enterprise capability or technology is only a pilot away. One SD-WAN feature to look for is the ability to create multiple profiles so different stores or branches can operate with very different configurations and technology deployments while still being managed and optimized by a single management interface.

You’ll also need the ability to alter the underlay circuits, and, say upgrade from 4G to 5G without impacting the SD-WAN overlay. With better network agility, you can also spin up and unwind pilot environments in days, not months, to support very fast go-to-market times with new technologies.

A trusted managed network service provider like Hughes can help you measure your enterprise’s cloud access points, real-time app requirements, and network agility needs. To learn more about other SD-WAN fit points, check out our earlier blogs on security and bandwidth and cost.