Understanding SD-WAN Solutions: The Limitations of Some Edge Devices

Understanding SD-WAN Solutions: The Limitations of Some Edge Devices

SD-WAN is all the rage. But before making any investment or commitment, buyers should understand the limitations of some SD-WAN solutions. Interoperability can often be a challenge with certain SD-WAN edge devices.

SD-WAN and private access/MLPS are often paired together in networking solutions, because SD-WAN enables new capabilities that simplify management and visibility, allowing IT teams to easily deploy and manage broadband-based WAN connections. With an SD-WAN overlay, enterprises can add dedicated Internet access or public broadband connectivity. But while the two can work very well together, you will find imperfections with some SD-WAN offerings. These solutions are still evolving and maturing to overcome shortcomings.


The Interoperability Limitation with Some SD-WAN Edge Devices

Don’t expect to buy a “zero-configuration” SD-WAN device and have it seamlessly communicate with other resources on your company’s existing MPLS network(s). What buyers may not recognize is that many SD-WAN devices may need to be implemented at EVERY location. Depending on how your private network and locations are set up, your SD-WAN edge devices may not communicate well with your private network and other IT infrastructure. Most SD-WAN edge devices communicate either site-to-site or site-to-cloud, which effectively “walls them off” from much of your existing WAN infrastructure. It’s essentially a new component that doesn’t “play well in your current IT sandbox.”

If you think of your corporate WAN as a sandbox, then the analogy of adding SD-WAN would be like adding a separate sandbox inside your existing sandbox. That separate, smaller SD-WAN sandbox is one that none of the other “children” can see or play with.

As a result, you’ll experience these challenges:

  • A Lack of Visibility: Some SD-WAN devices won’t interoperate or provide a unified view showing how the various elements in the larger network system are working as cohesive unit.
  • Insufficient Management and Lackluster Performance: Without a single dashboard and unified control tools, network optimization is difficult because data is fragmented. IT managers won’t be able to effectively troubleshoot breakdowns on the WAN. As a result, pinpointing root causes becomes an exercise of cross-examining and reconciling multiple network admin portals and vendors pointing fingers. Trying to find a straight answer that solves your problem becomes a game of frustration and time wasted.
  • Stymied Security: Network visibility plays a large role in helping security professionals understand how data and traffic flows across the IT environment. Without it, your IT team cannot recognize lateral movements and other signature signs of an attack. Evaluating the behavior across the network as a whole becomes challenging, which decreases your security posture.

Visibility is one of the key benefits of SD-WAN, and buyers can easily undermine the value of their IT investment. With interoperability, visibility, and security at stake, careful consideration is important in creating the best solution for your IT environment.

Escape Interoperability Issues with SD-WAN Embedded in the WAN Infrastructure

One sure-fire way to avoid these limitations is to migrate to a single, software-defined network platform where SD-WAN is embedded into the fabric of the network. With these solutions, every SD-WAN instance is working on the same backbone, staying in sync and creating a single unified view of performance. With a unified global network, enterprises receive all the same benefits of an SD-WAN edge device, plus they get the inherent benefits of a network built entirely using software-defined principles:

  • A single, consistent IT infrastructure that ensures service quality across the globe
  • Simplified network provisioning with the freedom to mix and match any connectivity type you want for each network environment (MPLS, direct connections to cloud providers, and public Internet connectivity)
  • A limitless number of segmented virtual networks--spin up/down test environments as needed with SD-VPN
  • A single online portal offering deep analytics and controls that penetrate across every WAN in the IT environment
  • Easy access to a host of additional capabilities including SD-WAN, SD-Network Function Virtualization, managed security, and more.

When you’re ready to refresh your network with or without SD-WAN, turn to the experts at Masergy. Our solution engineers will evaluate your IT infrastructure, application requirements, user locations, and risk tolerance and then layout your options for an ideal hybrid network design. Contact us for a free network whiteboarding session.

About Paul Ruelas

Director, Product Management, Masergy
Paul Ruelas is Director of Network Products at Masergy. He brings over 26 years of expertise in telecommunications, IP Networks, complex solution design, and product development. Paul has developed many Ethernet and optical products that enabled numerous global enterprises to transform their data communication infrastructures to improve business outcomes. Paul is an industry thought leader in communication transformation and on topics such as hybrid networking, SDN, NFV, and cloud connectivity.

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