Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is a key implementation for organisations prioritising cloud migration in their technology strategies. As more and more organisations move from Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) to a virtual network solution, the challenges associated with an SD-WAN migration must also be addressed.
SD-WAN migration is a strategic project. SD-WAN is the dominant network connectivity deployed by enterprises, with 67% using it to connect branch offices, retail stores and manufacturing facilities to clouds, data centres, web and SaaS applications. MPLS to Software Defined-WAN migration is accelerating: MPLS network connections are shrinking by 24% per year, while WAN deployments are growing by 240%. With 80% of applications hosted in the cloud and 72% of those connected to other systems and applications, network connectivity is the single biggest contributor to application performance and degrades the digital user experience.
As businesses and employees depend on connectivity, organisations need an SD-WAN migration plan that prioritises IT performance and operational efficiency while minimising delays, cost overruns, and risk. So, as organisations embrace cloud and digital transformation initiatives, a trend accelerated by the recent pandemic, they must contend that traditional networks are not built to handle the resulting complexities and workloads.
This, in turn, is driving the growth of flexible and resilient software-defined WAN deployments, a market that analysts predict will grow from $1.9 billion in 2020 to over $8.4 billion by 2025. This article will discuss how to implement Software Defined Wide Area Network migration seamlessly, minimise risks associated with the migration, and the benefits of doing so.
SD-WAN Migration Challenges
Most companies combine SD-WAN with CASB security platforms, affecting performance. ISP peering agreements, regional coverage, DNS resolution performance, and BGP routing performance on autonomous systems affect its performance. As a result, SD-WAN combines the underlays from multiple ISPs to increase resiliency and bandwidth.
Despite these highly dynamic underlying performance factors, the SD-WAN vendor’s built-in performance monitoring tools do not provide sufficient visibility to understand the end-to-end connection between users and applications, data centre and cloud. They are unable to diagnose underlying performance issues. Legacy Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) tools that rely on traffic analysis are inefficient at decoding encrypted traffic to SaaS and cloud applications for analysing network routes and performance metrics. Organisations migrating to SD-WAN must have consistent visibility into network performance throughout all stages of their SD-WAN migration to overcome the SD-WAN migration challenges.
Easy Steps For A Seamless Migration Plan
Testing SD-WAN performance and identifying bottlenecks in the pre-migration and pilot phases is essential to understand what actions are required to mitigate performance issues with full SD-WAN migration. This reference insight is also the key to optimising application performance and digital experience in line with user expectations. Here are the steps to follow for seamless migration from MPLS to SD-WAN:
1. Create a performance baseline for:
- existing MPLS, Ethernet, and private link network performance (latency, packet loss, path length)
- digital user experience for business-critical applications (private and SaaS)
- data centre and public cloud connectivity.
2. Test the performance of ISPs, cloud networks and other connections (e.g. 4G / 5G) that will form the SD-WAN underlay and select them accordingly.
3. Identify BGP, DNS, and CASB latencies (AS routing, geolocation-based DNS resolution performance, regional CASB proxy performance).
4. Refine SD-WAN application routing and traffic prioritisation using network path monitoring and digital experience.
5. Resolve service provider performance degradation with evidence-based collaboration.
6. Measure performance against baselines: network connectivity and user application experience.
7. Continuously monitor and optimise performance once the migration is complete.
Benefits Of A Seamless Migration Plan
Adopting a proven, performance-oriented approach to SD-WAN deployment is essential to reaping the full value of MPLS to SD-WAN migration:
- Eliminate expensive MPLS connections faster
- Select the most affordable, high-performance underlay ISPs
- Ensure consistent performance across regions, locations, clouds, and applications
- Embrace zero-trust networking and CASB security with the lowest latency overhead
- Exceed performance baselines and user expectations
- Offer the best possible end-to-end connectivity, not just over SD-WAN
SD-WAN Migration Monitoring Solutions
The transition to SD-WAN is generally gradual. Maintaining a clear view of legacy networks during the move requires an SD-WAN performance monitoring solution that measures the performance of the SD-WAN and Internet-based networks, private connectivity, and hybrid networks. To be an effective tool, SD-WAN performance monitoring solutions must provide the following features:
- Web, private, cloud and hybrid network performance
- SD-WAN Overlay and Underlay Performance:
- BGP route tracking and route changes
- Latency, loss and congestion per hop and per provider
- Latency introduced by DNS resolution, location and configuration of the CASB security proxy
- CDN and VPN performance
- End-user digital experience and how it is affected by network performance.
If you are planning an SD-WAN migration or are in the midst of an SD-WAN migration, you will soon realise that a full understanding of this complex project is a sensible and cost-effective way to ensure a successful outcome.
As you can see, anything is possible with one plan. As a human species, we have shown that anything is possible by placing humans on the moon and going deep into our ocean floors. So what you need to do here is to use SD-WAN solutions that will help simplify the migration process whether you are running a small or large company. With perfect SD-WAN solutions, combined with the power of powerful AI services, your business will thrive much faster and better.