How to choose the best SD-WAN vendor?

If you’re ready to move to SD-WAN and you’re vetting potential vendors, we’ve collected some high-level considerations for you to prep beforehand. If you’re shopping for an SD-WAN vendor today, the vendor landscape can seem overly complex. In this blog, we’ll help you create a rubric to choose the best SD-WAN vendor for your site in this 2-minute read.

Know your use case

First, you need to document your use case. Will you need to connect between offices with a site-to-site VPN? Do you need intelligent traffic or active load balancing on your SD-WAN? What’s the backup connection and how much can you afford for a failover? What about remote access? Do you have workers at home? Ask yourself these questions and formulate them into a sheet of must-haves.

Understand the application/location scope

For now, and with growth in mind, how many applications will you serve with your SD-WAN? This can help with costs as appliance fees are often leveraged monthly or as a one-time charge on top of your bandwidth. Next, where are these deployments? Do they need additional customisation at an additional cost? Do you want this solution to be managed or do you want to do this in-house?

Map bandwidth needs

For both bandwidth and throughput, you need to know what draw all the devices, applications and services are going to have on your network. Think about the frequency of access, how and when they’re being used and if the access is local, public, or private cloud. Low bandwidth activities are things like emails, internet browsing and document access. High bandwidth activities are video calls, large file downloads and streaming. What’s your activity mix?

Note IP address assignment

Next, will your provider assign you a static IP? A public IP lets you have many ISPs route traffic across multiple underlay carriers with different IPs. This means your traffic looks like it comes from one place even if it’s from many underlay networks.

Network security concerns

Whatever SD-WAN you choose, you’ll want to make sure that you have robust security. Take Cisco SD-WAN, for example, which offers cloud security and SASE together with on-premises and firmware security. Cisco SD-WAN offers embedded SSL decryption, enterprise firewall, intrusion prevention, URL filtering, and malware sandboxing. Together, these capabilities provide secure WAN access and help users meet compliance demands onsite while offering constant protection against internal and external threats from a range of sources. Make sure your SD-WAN vendor offers these top-of-the-line features before you sign any contracts.

Installation & contract lengths

A good SD-WAN vendor will usually be able to deploy your connection over your existing infrastructure. Depending on how many locations you have, the installation time will be higher or lower. But a good benchmark is 30-45 days for every 50 locations of deployment. And with your selection of SD-WAN vendors, you’ll be locked into your pricing for around 36 months, as standard. Make sure you know what support & service you can expect for the life of your contract.

Extra fees

Lastly, some extra fees you might want to look out for are:

  • Device amortisation
  • Installation fees
  • Location fees
  • Application fees

These could be added on as a lump-sum payment or split over the cost of your SD-WAN subscription, so make sure to get a full breakdown of what’s included in your monthly rate.

Want more help understanding how to choose the best SD-WAN vendor for your deployment? Our expert team is available to answer your questions and help you find the right SD-WAN for your needs.

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