Don’t leave your applications behind in the SD-WAN journey

Don’t leave your applications behind in the SD-WAN journey

As customers evaluate their current network solutions and look at what comes next the conversation inevitably turns to SD-WAN. SD-WAN’s have moved from a little known fad to a full blown trend in the networking world. Research by IDC shows an expected annual growth rate for SD-WAN of more than 40% per year over the next five years. It appears that if SD-WAN has not taken off yet it is poised to do so over the next few years.

What exactly is SD-WAN varies wildly depending on whom you ask. The truth is that it depends on what you are looking for and what you are hoping to get out of the product. According to entrepreneurship in a box a list of features that should be in any SD-WAN solution includes the following seven items:

  1. Better prioritisation

  2. Flexible bandwidth allocation

  3. Dynamic connection establishment

  4. Minimal packet loss

  5. Automatic outage detection and correction

  6. Better deployment and scalability features

  7. Intuitive user interface

This list covers a bunch of different areas that people think about when considering SD-WAN solutions. One area not mentioned in this list, not even alluded to is that of application performance visibility. Steve Garson from SD-WAN Experts also highlighted this gap in his ONUG keynote - SD-WAN connectivity options hinge on latency and application performance needs. Research from IDC shows that today, poor application performance impacts result in customer dissatisfaction (51%), lower efficiency (49%) and poor productivity (48%) even without SD-WAN.

Personally I think it is a little strange that a list of SD-WAN must haves would not include application performance visibility. How can you know what is happening on your network, how your applications are performing, whether your investment is working if you do not have visibility into the traffic on your SD-WAN? The answer, of course, is that you can not.

Because of this many SD-WAN vendors provide some level of visibility into what is happening with the traffic they manage. The information available varies from vendor to vendor but in general there is one distinguishing feature about the information that lowers its benefit drastically. This is the fact that almost all the visibility information given is focused on the network and how it is performing. Sure there may be some insights into how much traffic an application is generating and things along those lines but getting actual detailed application performance is very rare.

This makes sense when you think about it. SD-WAN vendors are making network solutions. Sure they look at application information and use those details to do things like path selection but when it comes down to it, these vendors are networking companies. To get visibility into how applications are performing you need to go beyond the network and get a view from the applications perspective.

When deploying a visibility application in conjunction with a SD-WAN solution there are three primary places the visibility solution can be useful:

  • Before the Deployment

  • During the Deployment

  • After the Deployment

Before the Deployment

As you begin the journey towards a fully deployed and functional SD-WAN solution it is critical that you have visibility in place prior to the first device being plugged in. There are numerous reasons to have application performance visibility in place first but perhaps the biggest is that if you do not know what is happening on your network before you start how can you know if you have met your performance and operational goals.

Visibility needs to be lightweight and simple to deploy so that you can easily deploy the solution across your network prior to the first SD-WAN implementation beginning. You are able to gather details on exactly what applications are running on your network, how they are performing, who is using them, what kind of traffic they are generating, and much more. Armed with this knowledge you will be able to make intelligent decisions about the design of your SD-WAN solution and ensure it fits the needs of your network and traffic.

During the Deployment

During the deployment of your SD-WAN solution having application performance visibility is also critical. While you are rolling things out you are going to want to ensure the application performance is where you expect it to be. If you are migrating from a sole MPLS link to combined MPLS and Internet links making sure the applications critical to your employees day to day activities are working at or better then they were before is a requirement.

Being able to identify issues before or as they occur is critical. If you migrate an office from traditional WAN links to SD-WAN links and performance is terrible you need to figure out the issue immediately. No one likes coming to work during an upgrade only to discover it is really a downgrade.

Finally if you are rolling out SD-WAN across a large environment with many branches you are unlikely to be able to switch everyone over all at once. You will be performing a staged rollout and upgrading facilities in groups depending on a variety of factors. Having visibility into the traffic at each branch allows you to carefully track which branches need to be upgraded in what order.

After the Deployment

Even once you have a fully deployed SD-WAN solution application performance visibility is critical. If you can not see it you can not manage it. Just because you have SD-WAN deployed does not mean things are not going to change. New applications are added to your network all the time (and at an ever increasing rate as digital transformation picks up within your organization). Old applications are decommissioned. Performance problems are just as likely to occur with SD-WAN solutions as with any other issue (link outages, hardware failures, server problems, cloud access issues, etc.). Ensuring you are able to see how each and every application is performing all the time is critical to the ongoing success of any SD-WAN deployment.

Visibility before, during, and after an SD-WAN deployment is critical to the overall success of the project. Whether you are planning for the deployment but looking at what applications are running on the network and what their performance is like, monitoring the deployment process to ensure applications are continuing to perform as expected, or validating the project provided the performance improvements desired, Sinefa application performance visibility provides the best option to see what is happening throughout your network.

Sinefa visibility is a real time over the top solution that is designed to be easy to deploy, lightweight, and cloud based to provide instant actionable insights with the amplified intelligence needed to detect, analyze, remediate, and validate issues that your customers and employees are experiencing when they are using applications.

Over 600 enterprises trust Sinefa as the best partner for application visibility.

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