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There’s a lot to consider when selecting an SD-WAN provider. But where do you start? There are so many SD-WAN vendors in the market today and they have significant differences between their products and services.

Riverbed can help you get a handle on the SD-WAN features and capabilities to consider with How to Create an RFP for SD-WAN Solutions. This guide will help you climb the learning curve quickly and put you in the driver’s seat for discussions with SD-WAN vendors.

SD-WAN Features and Capabilities

Our guide provides a list of features and capabilities to consider as well as detailed questions to ask SD-WAN providers. Here is an introduction to the topics covered in the guide.

SD-WAN products and services available in the marketplace have differing architectures. Your architectural needs may vary based on business objectives and desire to maintain MPLS, create a hybrid WAN, provide direct-to-net connectivity, and integrate wired/wireless LAN into your network fabric. Moreover, the architecture will significantly impact the performance, security, and manageability of an SD-WAN solution.

Even if the architecture of alternate SD-WAN solutions is similar, the technologies that vendors use to implement that architecture can vary. This variance can impact the complexity of the solution as well as the solution’s performance, security, and manageability.

Network integration
As organizations migrate from traditional networks to SD-WAN, it is important to consider how to integrate traditional and SD-WAN networks and if/when to eliminate traditional hardware-based branch office routers altogether.

Scalability and availability
To support enterprise deployments, SD-WAN solutions need to be highly scalable. They also need to be able to provide functionality to ensure that multiple WAN links can be effectively leveraged to provide high availability.

In contrast to a traditional WAN, software-defined WAN makes greater use of broadband services that do not include performance guarantees. SD-WAN should give you the ability to monitor WAN performance and manage traffic in a dynamic, automated manner to ensure that critical applications always perform well.

Driven by the adoption of direct Internet access (DIA) and the continuing expansion of mobility and the IoT (Internet of Things), network organizations need to rethink their approach to security.

End-to-end monitoring is critical to ensure SD-WAN performance is equal to or better to that of your existing WAN. Monitoring should provide context into the underlay technologies to accelerate troubleshooting.

Provisioning and deployment
SD-WAN provisioning is greatly simplified compared to traditional WAN environments, where routers and gateways are set up using scripts and a CLI. This approach is error-prone, highly manual, and time-consuming. SD-WAN gateways are typically configured centrally using a GUI and deployed with minimal on-site resources.

Orchestration and management
Modern networks are subject to continual change in response to dynamic business needs. This can overwhelm the IT team in the absence of policy-based management and the power of orchestration. Look for these features in SD-WAN solutions.

Service chaining
SD-WAN is one of many services needed in a wide area network. It should be possible to chain it together with security stacks, WAN optimization, and other services. Stronger SD-WAN solutions will have a high degree of integration with these services.

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