Deploying SD-WAN infrastructure can modernise an organisation’s network, leading to several benefits including cost reduction and increased capacity, but it is not necessarily the silver bullet that many expect it to be.

Some of the results that you want to achieve with SD-WAN are cost containment, increased capacity, enhanced security and improved user experiences. Corporates also want to put themselves in a position to leverage cloud and other digital platforms.

The big perception is that SD-WAN is a silver bullet with plug and play capabilities and that its deployment almost borders on do-it-yourself. However, it’s not that simple.

SD-WAN is an intelligent technology that requires expert design and must be implemented with great understanding of the business imperatives for it to deliver the desired outcomes. An improper deployment would not only see the network delivering limited benefits, it could drive an organisation to the point of paralysis.

To avoid these pitfalls, organisations must work with an expert implementation partner that has the necessary skills, experience and resources to do the implementation.

Select a partner and let them do the expert work and ensure that SD-WAN delivers. Do not attempt a simplistic do-it-yourself approach that could easily lead to an investment that’s not providing what it was intended to.

In addition, companies should keep in mind that there are several unique conditions in SA that must be considered before implementing SD-WAN.

Top of mind should be SA’s load-shedding, which severely affects the telecom grid. One of the design principles of SD-WAN is that it needs multiple paths so it can select the best route between service provider and receiver. 

About the author: Hein Witte is specialised sales executive: telecommunications, at T-Systems SA. Picture: SUPPLIED/T-SYSTEMS
About the author: Hein Witte is specialised sales executive: telecommunications, at T-Systems SA. Picture: SUPPLIED/T-SYSTEMS

When the grid is congested and the SD-WAN router only has one path to go through, the user experience is impaired severely. This must be considered when the network is designed to ensure it has alternative routes, including such route options, which are not affected by load-shedding.

Another challenge is SA’s contracting economy, which is pushing corporates into deploying SD-WAN as quickly as possible to leverage potential cost reductions. The danger is that rushed implementation and shortcuts can result in a paralysed network.

On the other hand, if implemented properly, SD-WAN has built-in self-healing capabilities, as well as a backdoor entrance that allows for faults to be addressed remotely, via a sophisticated management platform. This allows for person-to-person contact to be avoided, which is critical during the current pandemic.

Another benefit of SD-WAN is in the area of compliance and security. Traditional corporate networks are excluded and isolated from compliance and are therefore prone to compliance breaches. SD-WAN fabric brings about the benefit of compliance being embedded in the network if it is set up and configured properly.

Similarly, security in a traditional network was also peripheral, but SD-WAN includes next-generation firewall capabilities compatible with the corporate policies of a customer.

For more information, e-mail communications specialist Thamsanqa Malinga on Thami.Malinga@t-systems.co.za, call 011-254-7400/083-301-7878 or visit the T-Systems website.

This article was paid for by T-Systems SA.


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