Problems with SD-WAN (Plus Solutions)

As you evaluate the capabilities of SD-WAN (software-defined wide area networks), you may quickly find yourself wooed by the endless possibilities for optimizing your internet connections.

If you rely on more than one internet circuit to provide your single or multiple sites with reliable internet network, SD-WAN can enhance functionality while giving your visibility.

At The KR Group, we’ve seen many businesses that consider internet connections a mission-critical IT resource have great success by implementing SD-WAN.

Yet, despite the advantages of SD-WAN, it isn’t free of problems. In fact, if not properly planned, implemented, and administered, you may very likely end up scratching your head as you struggle to see the value of the investment.

Specifically, here are a few problems you might encounter and how to avoid each one:

  1. You don’t understand the investment value of SD-WAN.
  2. The service level agreements don’t meet the needs of your network.
  3. SD-WAN can’t singularly offer cybersecurity protection.
  4. Your network administrator will need a specific set of skills.
  5. Your SD-WAN solution may require cloud management

When done properly, SD-WAN has the capability to transform how your organization does enterprise networks. One of the best ways to accomplish that is to understand the following issues the technology can be prone to.


Problem #1: You Don’t Understand the Investment Value of SD-WAN

The term SD-WAN has become somewhat of a buzzword in IT, and it refers to how you can use the solution to set rules-based traffic between two or more WAN connections.

However, there are numerous ways to implement SD-WAN. There are various vendors to choose from and different features to implement.

Even if you embrace the idea that technology is an investment, the cost benefits and ROI of SD-WAN aren’t as obvious as other technologies.

How to Avoid the Problem:

There are ways to make the most of your investment in SD-WAN and recognize the value of this solution.

Here are a few real-world examples we’ve found noteworthy:

  • With a SD-WAN connection, a financial institution was able to avoid implementing a pricey private circuit to provide internet to a rural branch. Instead, SD-Wan allows the company to use cable and 5G with SD-WAN to direct and balance traffic.
  • A multi-site organization needed a way connect the networks of each location. Originally, they were looking into implementing to connect all of the sites. However, SD-WAN proved to be a more cost-effective and offered other benefits, such as redundancy, efficiency, and visibility.
  • There is also a case to be made for the countless businesses who have implemented SD-WAN as part of their This allows the process of switching from a primary to secondary circuit to happen seamlessly, so you can avoid .

Essentially, to realize ROI of SD-WAN, you (and your trusted IT consultant) will need to think of the technology as a puzzle, looking to see how all the other elements of your network can be leveraged to make your new solution cost-effective and efficient.


Problem #2: The Service Level Agreements Don’t Meet the Needs of Your Network

In the IT world, it’s imperative to understand the service level agreement (SLA), or response time, for the components of your IT environment.

Depending on which SD-WAN vendor you buy from and the support contract accompanying your purchase, you’ll have a timeframe for how soon you can expect help troubleshooting problems with the solution.

However, this SLA will only refer to the SD-WAN component of your network.

If the issue or outage lies elsewhere in your network, then you’ll be waiting for your other tech partners (internet providers, firewall manufacturers, switching vendors, etc.) to respond to your service request.

Additionally, if you’re accustomed to an MLPS private connection, you’ll need to adjust to having to wait for the SLA of all parties involved, instead of monitoring and handling the problem internally.

How to Avoid the Problem:

To prevent idly twiddling your thumbs while waiting for the SLA of the various providers for your network components, it’s best to understand how much downtime you can tolerate before signing contracts for the different services.

This information allows you to find the best providers for your network’s needs.

Additionally, good monitoring and maintenance policies can mitigate the number of issues you’ll encounter since you’ll be proactively taking care of your network.


Problem #3: SD-WAN Can’t Singularly Offer Cybersecurity Protection

With the prevalence of security threats in the cybersphere, security is paramount to the function of any component in your IT problem.

When done correctly, SD-WAN can increase your security posture. However, to accomplish this, you’ll have to think through the design of your network.

There are two ways security can be compromised via your SD-WAN solution:

  • The vendor you choose has minimal security integrations and features.
  • An improper implementation of SD-WAN prevents users from using the secure network, and instead they use less secure ways to share or save data.

How to Avoid the Problem:

For the first problem, you’ll need to vet your SD-WAN vendor before adding the solution to your IT network.

Look at how a prospective vendor integrates security into their product line. Many SD-WAN solutions incorporate SASE architecture, so you can link other solutions, such as DNS filtration to it. Still, some SD-WAN solutions may lack any security features, so you’ll need to look at other ways to protect your data.

When it comes to correct implementation, working with an IT consultant is often your best bet. Look for one who has certified engineers in the SD-WAN solution you’re considering and experience configuring it.

Finally, remember (and remind your users) that while SD-WAN has the potential to increase it is not mean all other security measures and best practices can be ignored.


Problem #4: Your Network Administrator Will Need a Specific Set of Skills

An IT engineering using a laptop in a server room. To get the most out of your SD-WAN solution, you’ll need to have someone manage it.

This person must pay attention to application performance behavior and how it correlates to the configured policies. When necessary, the administrator needs to have the skills to adjust those policies.

And of course, in case of a problem, that person should have the right experience to troubleshoot the SD-WAN and resolve the issue.

It’s a significant responsibility; having your internet down can be detrimental to your organization’s operations.

Finding someone to manage your SD-WAN is a problem in and of itself, but there are problems with the actual management as well.

There are countless ways to configure your SD-WAN to optimize the traffic flow of the network, and the person managing it must understand how to identify when options look intriguing but would unnecessary complicate network traffic.

How to Avoid the Problem:

The way we consume internet data continually evolves. Unlike a decade or so ago where you could set up a network and leave if, today’s networks require frequent care and updates.

To find the ideal management solution for your SD-WAN, you’ll want to find someone – internally or externally – to be the point person for all things related to this piece of technology.

Then, to alleviate the amount of work this person has, you should consider an SD-WAN solution with a straightforward management platform and native intelligence to detect problems when the administrator adjusts or adds traffic.


Problem #5: Your SD-WAN Solution May Require Cloud Management

When various solutions are managed in the cloud, you’ll inevitably forfeit some control, and you might not get the same granularity as on-premises alternatives.

Many SD-WAN solutions require you to use their cloud management portal to make changes to the solution. However, some vendors, including Cisco, let you choose between the cloud and your on-premises data center.

If you don’t take care to think through the right option for you, you could — worst-case scenario — end up paying to re-implement SD-WAN so it actually works.

How to Avoid the Problem:

To solve this issue, some forethought is necessary. Not only do you want to consider which vendor offers a solution with the features and management option you prefer, but you’ll also need to consider your budget and

Even if you’re relatively certain an on-premises managed SD-WAN is right for your business, does the cost difference make it worth purchasing your preferential option?

Thinking through all these factors – or going a step further and having an IT consultant help you find the best product – will ensure you spend your money on the optimal solution for your immediate and long-term needs.


Best Practices for Implementing SD-WAN in Your Business

Regardless of how you look at it, implementing SD-WAN into your enterprise network is a significant investment, but the level of visibility, control, and security you get in return is unsurpassed.

There are a few bumps in the road to a well-implemented SD-WAN solution. But, you can generally solve these problems by choosing a good ISP, vendor, and product, as well as finding the

Additionally, you’ll want to understand the value of the solution in relations to its costs, evaluate the SLAs for the different components of your network, and find someone to properly administer this technology.

Once you do implement it, you’ll find it is much simpler than having to manually adjust internet connections every time there is an outage or problem.

For more information about how SD-WAN can benefit your business’s network, check out this free infographic.

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