Ready for the journey from MPLS to SD-WAN? | Opinion | Infrastructures

In 2021, it may seem unthinkable for those of us who move into the business telecommunications field, that many large corporations have not made the leap from multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN). But it’s true. When asked why they have held back from change, company leaders often cite cost as the main reason– Sometimes the IT budget has simply been stretched too far or is being spent on other, more immediate priorities. Or simply companies are reluctant to change what they think works well for them.

Many large corporations have not made the leap from MPLS to SD-WAN

But it may no longer be feasible to rely solely on MPLS-based networks for all your connectivity needs. Many companies are moving your applications to the cloud, especially with the increased frequency of remote work. These factors (among others) mean that there is a need for broader and holistic security approaches than are feasible with MPLS.

What does a company have to consider to have a successful transition to SD-WAN adoption?

Take stock of your applications

Identify the most frequently used and critical applications. Are they products from external vendors or are they proprietary? This will affect the transition from MPLS to SD-WAN – out-of-the-box applications like Salesforce or Sage X3 that run with the former may be more difficult to switch to the latter. Meanwhile, internal tools can be more easily adjusted to work well in SD-WAN environment.

You will also need to determine whether you will keep your applications in their current forms when moving to SD-WAN or replace them with newer versions. If they’re going to be upgraded anyway, it’s probably best to get the latest iterations, but if they’re relatively up-to-date, keeping the apps as-is will not adversely affect the transition.

Create an “application roadmap”

With the “what” identified, it’s time to consider the “where”: Are they directly in the cloud, are they hosted in the cloud through a SaaS provider, or are they still served from data centers?

If the latter, it may be necessary to move those applications to the cloud to drive a transition to SD-WAN, adopting software, infrastructure, or platform-as-a-service models as needed. But the top priority here has to be your end users. The goal is for your SD-WAN implementation to improve your access to business applications (and your experience with them). Your users’ data path to applications can be affected by routing changes, so you’ll want to keep track as you put an SD-WAN plan in place.

Paul Ruelas, Senior Director of Products at GTT.

Determine a cloud strategy

According to IDC, global spending on cloud services is expected to exceed $ 1 trillion sometime in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.7% sustained over the intervening years.

The first step in discovering an organization’s cloud strategy is choosing between public, private, or hybrid cloud services. Hybrid clouds, such as the VMWare offering (with VMware SD-WAN) or the Microsoft Azure Pack, have received a lot of attention and are worth considering. But many companies are opting for multiple clouds, using two or more completely separate cloud configurations.

If your budget has gotten completely tight lately, you might be wondering if multi-cloud is essential to your SD-WAN transition. While not required for SD-WAN, there are many reasons why multiple clouds are worth using. On the one hand, multi-cloud dramatically increases the performance of SaaS applications. But more importantly, the use of two or more clouds makes it more versatile.

Validate the security architecture

Security is an area where MPLS is sometimes presumed to have an advantage over SD-WAN. But this is only true in the sense that MPLS are private connections based on data centers or large campus locations, while SD-WAN takes advantage of the public internet.

It is entirely possible to have an SD-WAN deployment and all the benefits that come with it, while maintaining strong cybersecurity. The easiest way to do this is by choosing an SD-WAN provider with a great reputation for security, such as Fortinet.

You can also consider a Secure Access Software (SASE) implementation. Your SD-WAN provider should be able to directly offer SASE or interoperate with a third-party SASE solution. While SASE is still in somewhat nascent stages at this point, it will become more prevalent in the very short term. In particular, it includes high-level security features such as next-generation firewalls along with comprehensive traffic segmentation and inspection.

Assess your IT staff and resources

One of the key impediments to SD-WAN adoption may be the lack of staff and physical resources (hardware and related tools) to implement and manage the solution on your own (DIY). You will need to browse and select vendors, negotiate WAN access in various world regions, plan and execute SD-WAN deployment, and then continuously monitor network / application performance. Additionally, you must coordinate sites and teams while providing ongoing support and maintenance for devices and software.

All of this can seem daunting and overwhelming compared to MPLS. That’s why turning to an expert managed service provider like GTT, you can make it easier for him. With our access to the Tier 1 Internet backbone and extensive knowledge and experience of all the latest WAN deployments, we’ll help you avoid the roadblocks, so you can take advantage of the many connectivity benefits of SD-WAN with minimal hassle. .

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