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How to make the transition to a software defined WAN

Stefan Dietrich, VP Product Strategy, Glue Networks Inc. | Feb. 4, 2016
SD-WAN solutions must provide operational capabilities such as network-aware orchestration

Because it is difficult to independently verify and validate networks during times of change, enterprises are looking for alternatives that offer more network automation.  Solutions must not only provide the capabilities to implement and maintain a logical IP network, but also the capabilities to manage the underlying infrastructure, including verifying and validating implemented architectures, detecting hidden dependencies and understanding the full impact of any change.

In fact,

Gaining awareness

Tto ensure that the network will perform optimally in an environment of constant change and increasing demands, SD-WAN solutions must also provide the next level of operational capabilities such as network-aware orchestration.  The capabilities required might include, with functionality such as:

  • Built-in, best-practice architectures for initial provisioning
  • Apply Application of changes with minimal impact (e.g. avoiding unnecessary reboots)
  • Understanding and accounting for the overall network impact of any change, a characteristic referred to as  (“network-aware.”)
  • Applying changes “in concert,” understanding architectural dependencies
  • Resolveing any hidden dependencies automatically when possible
  • Monitoring the configuration state of all devices in the network
  • Limiting direct manual access to devices through a verifiable audited interface
  • Validateing changes have been successfully applied or reverting to the prior configuration when needed

Such advanced management and automation provides  verification and validation that the network is, in fact, correctly configured and that, for example, any non-authorized manual changes are pro-actively detected and remediated swiftly.

DevOps for a better transition

In addition to the requirements for automation and seamless orchestration, requirements for customization are always present.  SD-WAN will simplify and bring more standardization across the network, even when customized features are required for specific business purposes. Software developers need to align closely with network operations staff to understand in detail the requirements to be implemented, addressing specific operational needs. Those process driven approaches, generally referred to as DevOps, when done right, result in faster time to market, better customization, fewer failures and more rapid recovery from negative events or misaligned changes. An effective SD-WAN solution can enable these benefits while managing consistency across the network.

Making the switch

It’ is inevitable that complexity will continue to increase. The ability to implement an SD-WAN solution,  providing not only the technical ability to create a logical IP network but also related network automation and change management capabilities, is critical to ensure the network will perform under critical loads.

Launching a successful SD-WAN implementation will require new tools to manage the heterogeneous network technologies on the WAN. An SD-WAN solution must provide IT teams with automated orchestration, validation, verification and remediation procedures to detect potential error conditions early. These critical network-aware orchestration capabilities are the evolution of SD-WAN solutions, providing the much needed network agility to help companies remain competitive in a world where the pace of change and demand for connectivity is ever increasing.


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