Why People and Processes Are the Keys to a Successful SD-WAN Rollout


If you're moving your datacenter from 1G to 10G ethernet, it's mostly just a matter of physical rewiring. But if you're making the fundamental shift from a legacy network to an SD-WAN, you need to rewire how your IT staff and management think. In short, in order for your SD-WAN rollout to succeed, you need to spend as much time thinking about processes and people as you do about technology.

Figure 1. Technology won't help your organization without processes in place and people on board

A venn diagram demonstrating that technology won't help your organization without processes in place and people on board

When it comes to an SD-WAN rollout, here's how the three elements in Figure 1 play out.

Technology: A fundamental management shift. The biggest technological shift when it comes to SD-WAN lies in the realm of network management — an area that lacks sex appeal but is absolutely crucial for the smooth operation of any network. While legacy network management relies on tweaking individual routers via their command-line interfaces, SD-WAN management is more abstract, allowing admins to set networking and security policies across an enterprise from a single, centralized console.

Processes: Adapting to the new reality. Procedures and processes put in place for legacy networks won't work in this new SD-WAN world. For instance, with a legacy network, it might've been necessary to have procedures in place where network change requests had to be approved in a process that took several weeks. After all, it would take that long to update the routers one by one anyway. But those procedures won't map on to the SD-WAN world, where much of the work under the covers is automated. And your organization needs to figure out its new processes before you roll out your SD-WAN, not after.

People: Aligning your workforce with the work that needs to be done today. This shift will also affect how people go about their daily tasks. The move to SD-WAN is part of the larger shift in IT towards flexible services, like cloud-based platforms and SaaS, that are abstracted away from individual hardware components. Tech pros who are ready to shift along with their organizations and embrace new technology will see their careers prosper. This change won’t happen overnight so plan now for training.

The full story on deploying SD-WAN

For a more in-depth look at the topics discussed here, register with Riverbed to download "How To Deploy SD-WAN," a white paper from Ashton, Metzler & Associates. You'll get details on what you should consider when moving to SD-WAN and how it impacts:

  • Incident and problem management
  • Capacity management
  • Operational change management

The paper also discusses the security implications for your SD-WAN transition process. Registration is free.

Download the paper today

How Riverbed can smooth your transition

Most of what we've talked about so far could apply to the rollout of most SD-WAN products on the market. But Riverbed has a broad range of offerings and capabilities that are uniquely suited to an enterprise contemplating how an SD-WAN transition will transform its internal processes. For instance, Riverbed views SD-WAN as just one piece of a larger networking picture that encompasses software-defined LANs and wireless networks, as well as WAN optimization. As you transition your WAN to a centrally managed software-defined architecture, consider the ways Riverbed can extend that transition to the rest of your network, using the same management technology.

And Riverbed can help in areas that go beyond networking. The shift away from dedicated MPLS links and towards standard Internet traffic is part of the SD-WAN process — but those Internet connections don't come with performance guarantees. You need to bring application performance and end-user experience monitoring into the mix to keep your critical applications up and running — and that's where Riverbed's SteelCentral portfolio really shines.

For more on how your organization's processes and culture can prepare for the SD-WAN future, register to download "How To Deploy SD-WAN." To learn how Riverbed can help you take the next steps, check out our SD-WAN page.