Implementing SD-WAN: Best Practices for a smooth transition

Updated: December 12th, 2023

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a cost-effective and efficient solution for modern business networks. With the ability to optimise network performance through intelligent traffic management and simplify management of complex – often global – IT networks, SD-WAN provides numerous benefits. However, implementing SD-WAN requires careful planning and execution to ensure a smooth transition from traditional WAN infrastructure.

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Preparing for the Transition to SD-WAN

Before embarking on installing SD-WAN, it’s essential to evaluate your existing network infrastructure and identify your business needs so you can understand the opportunities and risks of transitioning to SD-WAN. Assessing your existing network will help you determine areas that require improvement and the objectives you want to achieve with SD-WAN.

When evaluating your network infrastructure, consider factors such as:

– Network capacity



Understanding strengths and weaknesses in your current network provides valuable insights into areas that need upgrading to support the implementation of SD-WAN. By conducting an evaluation, you can identify bottlenecks or vulnerabilities that may hinder the successful deployment of SD-WAN.

Furthermore, it is important to assess the compatibility of your existing network devices and applications with SD-WAN technology. Some legacy systems may not be fully compatible with SD-WAN, requiring additional configuration or upgrades. By identifying these compatibility issues early on, you can plan for any necessary changes or adjustments to ensure a seamless transition.

Understanding business needs

Identifying your business needs involves understanding your network traffic patterns, application requirements, and performance goals. This information will guide you in selecting the right SD-WAN solution that aligns with your business objectives.

Understanding network traffic patterns

When analysing your network traffic patterns, it is crucial to consider both current and future requirements. By examining historical data, you can identify peak usage times, bandwidth demands, and recurring patterns that may impact network performance. This will enable you to design an SD-WAN solution that can handle fluctuations in network traffic and ensure optimal performance for critical applications.

Understanding network traffic patterns

Understanding application requirements

Additionally, understanding your application requirements is essential for a successful SD-WAN deployment. Different applications have varying needs in terms of bandwidth, latency, and security. By categorising applications based on requirements, you can prioritise traffic and allocate network resources accordingly.

Understanding existing network infrastructure

With a clear understanding of your network infrastructure and business needs, your SD-WAN deployment can be planned more effectively. This deployment will involve designing the network architecture, determining the number and placement of SD-WAN appliances, and defining connectivity requirements. A considered, strategic deployment plan ensures a smooth transition and minimises network disruptions.

When designing the network architecture, it is important to consider factors such as:

  • Redundancy
  • Load balancing
  • Failover mechanisms

SD-WAN offers the flexibility to utilise multiple network connections, including MPLS, broadband, and LTE, to create a resilient and highly available network. By carefully designing the network architecture, you can ensure that your SD-WAN deployment maximises network uptime and minimises the risk of interruptions or latency.

Understanding SD-WAN appliance needs

In addition to network architecture, determining the number and placement of SD-WAN appliances is crucial for optimising performance and cost-efficiency. By strategically deploying SD-WAN appliances at key locations within your network, you can minimise latency and ensure efficient traffic routing. Furthermore, considering factors such as scalability and future growth will help you determine the appropriate number of appliances to accommodate your network’s evolving needs.

Understanding connectivity requirements

Defining connectivity requirements is another critical aspect of SD-WAN deployment. This involves assessing the bandwidth requirements of each branch location, considering factors such as:

  • Data transfer volumes
  • Application demands
  • User capacity

By accurately determining connectivity requirements, you can select the appropriate SD-WAN solution to meet network demands without overspending on unnecessary bandwidth.

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Best Practices for a Smooth SD-WAN Transition

To ensure a successful transition to SD-WAN, it’s essential to train your IT team on the new technology. Familiarise them with the features and capabilities of SD-WAN and provide hands-on training for configuring and managing the solution. This will empower your IT team to handle any challenges that may arise during the transition process.

Monitoring and troubleshooting are critical aspects of managing an SD-WAN deployment. Implementing robust monitoring tools will help you proactively identify and resolve performance issues. Regularly review performance metrics and network logs to ensure optimal performance and address any potential bottlenecks or security threats.

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