New year, new projects. For many 2018 will be the year that the WAN contract expires and the 3 or 5year cyclical task of a WAN review becomes a focus. But this year it is not the same. It is the year that SD-WAN is becoming mainstream but is not yet a mature market.
And so, you have a dilemma.
Do you do what you’ve always done – guess. Many network designs aren’t really designs at all. Suppliers (and some customers to be fair) merely try to add bandwidth and reduce cost. If all you need from your WAN is connectivity, then that might meet your objectives. Or do you look to design your network for the information demands of the next five years and prepare your business for the inevitable acceleration in change and development that you know will be facing you soon.
It’s difficult to know what changes will be facing you in the future, but if you don’t know what your applications are doing right now, how can you know what the right direction could be?
Many of the customers we speak to about their WAN’s just don’t have the level of visibility needed to make truly informed decisions, meaning WAN’s are designed based on experience and educated assumptions rather than real data.
We also speak to customers that have had continuing problems that are blamed on the poor performance of the WAN but the root cause is unknown.
Basic monitoring tools may provide you with an overall utilisation picture but without understanding the applications, how these are being used by end users and how they are responding to latency, jitter and packet loss, even a new network design may not deliver an optimum WAN experience.
So how do you understand the right path to take? Determine whether you are SD-WAN ready? Decide on whether now is the time to adopt that new technology?
The best approach is to conduct a WAN assessment to provide an in-depth analysis of your network. From this you can gain a clear understanding of your existing network and the how your applications are behaving across the WAN, allowing decisions to be data driven and decisions to be informed. You will then know you are adopting the right technology to deliver your commercial and technical strategy for the future.