Mastering SD-WAN Deployments

Understanding the factors of successful SD-WAN implementations can make all the difference.

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By: Adam Fuoss, Vice President, Pre-sales Consulting, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

When engaging in any large, transformative, and complex IT project, such as an SD-WAN deployment, experiences from those who have walked that path before are invaluable. That experiential knowledge is normally transferred in the form of individuals and partners, brought on to guide an organization through the process of scoping, architecting, and deploying. However, what’s often missing is documented information from others who have embarked upon, and completed, their own projects. Those experiences can serve as a guidebook and roadmap to avoid delays, expense overruns, and deployment issues that other companies may have already learned from and overcome.

With this in mind, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, took that step with the creation of a resource that highlights lessons learned from large SD-WAN deployments. The team spent more than six months interviewing Aruba EdgeConnect customers across various industries to better equip future customers with key insights for what is often an organization-transforming project.

Through those interviews, three key themes emerged that virtually any organization can leverage to create a successful SD-WAN deployment.

Start at the end

Understanding what end results are desired, along with the key issues that the SD-WAN deployment needs to address are imperative before starting. Make sure to have documented the crucial guideposts on which to form a plan and use them as a north star for the project team. For example, most organizations know that SD-WAN can help modernize the WAN edge, but there might also be additional initiatives, such as SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) that will be deployed as part of the project.

Additional challenges to overcome might be connecting users to applications within cloud infrastructure, where organizations often struggle to deploy new applications as a result of bandwidth issues, high latency, or complexity in connecting to resources. The network edge applies to virtually every touchpoint of the user-application paradigm, requiring organizations to gain a deep understanding of the scope of the project, including which additional technology may need to be deployed, are critical aspects to identify early.

Create a methodology for continuous planning, monitoring, and testing

Before initiating any enterprise-wide project, it’s critical to plan, implement, and test the rollout process on a smaller scale. Through customer interviews, Aruba found that typically the first 10 sites for SD-WAN deployments are the most difficult—it’s where organizations often uncover hidden problems that no one foresees in the planning stages. Starting with a smaller cohort provides the team with opportunities to tweak and optimize the process, before they get off course. Think of it as practice before the big game.

If there are additional tasks that need to be completed, such as purchasing circuits or selecting a managed services partner, determining those issues early on can also significantly reduce delays. Without proper planning, these tasks can often be limiting factors in your deployment, and there isn’t much you can do make them go any faster than they already do.

Working together, the organization can build an effective playbook to implement across tens, hundreds, and even thousands of sites. Large customers and partners often successfully deployed 50 to 60 sites in a single day—once the learnings from the original planning and piloting phases are implemented.

Don’t underestimate the network

Organizations often have a scarcity mindset about what their network can do. There are plenty of digital transformation projects that have been scuttled because they ran into network limitations. It’s important for companies to reframe their mindset about what their capabilities will be post deployment. Legacy constraints and technical debt that may have once limited teams often dissolve when provided new opportunities. The network provides the foundation upon which modernization can occur, and SD-WAN is the bedrock upon which the foundation is built.

The maturation of SD-WAN

Regardless of where an organization may reside on its digital transformation journey, SD-WAN implementation today can begin with experienced professionals, within a mature product ecosystem, and with less risk than ever before. Other customers have already developed the processes and methodologies necessary to successfully implement SD-WAN, paving the road for those looking to follow.

Take the guesswork out of rolling out large SD-WAN deployments, and check out the eBook today.


Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.