6 Challenges That Can Impact SD-WAN Implementation

June 2024
Sagenet Blog Managed Sd Wan

Software-defined WAN has become the linchpin of modern networking, intelligently routing and prioritizing network traffic in ways that support today’s cloud-centric environments and distributed workforces. More than 95 percent of enterprises have deployed SD-WAN or plan to do so within the next two years, according to research from IDC.

While the technology’s benefits are indisputable, its adoption comes with significant challenges. Here are six common challenges that can disrupt an SD-WAN project:

  1. Vendor Selection

Choosing an SD-WAN vendor is a critical decision. There are dozens of SD-WAN vendors, and they all have their own security features, service level agreements and protocols. Some are managed via a graphical interface, while others rely on command-line interfaces. Different vendors also have different techniques for connecting with cloud environments. Vendor lock-in can also become an issue. Once you’ve committed to one vendor’s solution, switching to another provider can be challenging and costly.

  1. Management Complexity

SD-WAN is deployed over one or more existing WAN networks that comprise the hardware infrastructure. This creates a hybrid network that links multiple connectivity options, mobile networks and other services. Although it provides a lot of flexibility, it also introduces management complexity. IT teams must monitor and maintain both overlay and underlay networks, manage and troubleshoot multiple transport technologies, and ensure interoperability with an array of appliances and endpoint devices. Furthermore, management requires a continuous learning curve as SD-WAN is increasingly integrated with new cloud services, security features, AI algorithms and other technologies.

  1. Security Concerns

Because SD-WAN allows traffic to traverse multiple paths, including the public Internet, it is difficult for traditional security tools to effectively monitor and control network traffic. This lack of visibility results in blind spots, making it easier for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities or infiltrate the network unnoticed. Additionally, the reliance on software-defined policies can introduce configuration errors that inadvertently expose sensitive data or create security gaps.

  1. Unexpected Costs

In most cases, SD-WAN reduces overall WAN costs by optimizing traffic and leveraging cost-effective bandwidth connections. However, other factors sometimes create unexpected expenditures. For example, expensive upgrades to underlay networks may be required to support the increased amount of traffic traversing the network. There may also be additional licensing fees for centralized management, monitoring and analytics tools, as well as additional cloud integration and data transfer costs.

  1. Cloud Connectivity

Although SD-WAN excels in optimizing network traffic, it often relies on the public Internet for cloud connectivity. That can introduce increased latency, congestion and other performance bottlenecks, particularly when organizations have multiple cloud-based applications and services. To ensure reliable and efficient access, organizations may need to use cloud on-ramp services or establish dedicated links between the on-premises network and cloud providers’ data centers.

  1. Skills Gaps

To effectively manage SD-WAN, organizations need individuals who are familiar with software-defined networking concepts, telecom options and cloud services as well as WAN optimization, automation and orchestration techniques. Very often, vendor-specific training and certification may also be necessary.

An Easier Way

Managed SD-WAN can deliver all the benefits the technology offers while offloading many of its greatest challenges. These arrangements effectively outsource design, deployment, monitoring and security to providers who have invested in the tools, skills and certifications necessary to address all of SD-WAN’s complexities.

SageNet, for example, offers a fully managed SD-WAN option as well as a suite of a la carte services through our practice. Our certified networking professionals will ensure the deployment is optimized for performance and security, and our monitoring and support services provide proactive troubleshooting to minimize downtime. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you harness the benefits of SD-WAN while minimizing the complexities.

Jason Schwakopf

Jason Schwakopf

Senior Sales Engineer

Recent events have caused a paradigm shift for many companies, accelerating their desire to better leverage IoT. Supply chain, healthcare, advanced living care, retail and other service industries are going to be looking at ways to be “touchless” as much as possible. Enterprise systems will need a new level of flexibility, accessibility and above all, security.

Get to know Jason

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