Written by the Cloudscape Technology Team

The Beginner’s Guide to Managed SD-WAN Services for Business

How do you gain the best network connectivity, ironclad security, and remote capability for your company without sacrificing Quality of Service? The answer is managed SD-WAN!

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Managed SD-WAN Services for Business

With global reach a necessity for most businesses and remote work capability becoming increasingly more common by the day, having maximum connectivity and security from everywhere within your business is important. But, traditional internet and networking options don’t always cut it. The service is either spotty or the security is questionable at best.

So, how do you gain the best network connectivity, ironclad security, and remote capability for your company without sacrificing Quality of Service?

The answer is managed SD-WAN!

Enjoying a smooth connection that reduces risk and enhances productivity doesn’t have to be complicated, getting the most out of SD-WAN for your business starts with understanding the basics of how it works.

Introducing The Beginner’s Guide to Managed SD-WAN Services for Business:

Understanding the Basics of Managed Networks & Security

Interconnectivity within a business, especially one with several satellite locations, can be a bit of a process with many moving parts. Fortunately, managed SD-WAN services make it relatively easy to get everyone on the same page, without a lot of pomp and circumstance.

In this article, we’re going to cover the basics of the managed networks and managed security measures provided by SD-WAN software and hardware applications.

  • What is SD-WAN?
  • How does SD-WAN work?
  • What does ‘managed’ mean?
  • What’s the difference between SD-WAN and MPLS?
  • What are the benefits of SD-WAN?
  • How does SD-WAN differ from mpls?
  • How to evaluate and choose SD-WAN software and providers?
  • How to use SD-WAN?

Using these guidelines, you will gain a better understanding of how managed networks and managed security methods, provided through managed SD-WAN, can help your business be more productive and efficient.

First, exactly what is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide-area network, is a type of enterprise network that uses integrated software and wide-area networking technology to connect multiple business hubs and applications seamlessly.

Think of it a bit like a personal Wi-Fi router that connects your entire organization and all of your locations.

How does SD-WAN technically work?

SD-WAN uses software to more efficiently route traffic and data directly to the user on demand. All traffic is handled based on a priority set by the business that works off of business-critical needs and security measures.

That means that your system isn’t backhauling traffic or data so there are little to no delays or downtime.  Applications can be accessed in the most efficient way possible based on user geography and real time analytics.

[WAN Sketch Image]

What does ‘managed’ mean?

When it comes to the term ‘managed’ it essentially means that you’re receiving a hands-free solution that is delivered to you at a subscription-based price, but is managed and maintained entirely off-site by your provider.  Creating an operational expense rather than a heavy capital outlay keeps your business nimble.

For example; in the case of managed SD-WAN, your selected provider will assess your structure and provide a tailored software solution that meets your needs. This software will be hosted and maintained off-site by your provider, while you reap the benefits of maximum connectivity and uptime.

SD-WAN vs MPLS vs VPN: What’s the difference?

If you’re already using a traditional networking and routing method like MPLS or VPNs, you may be wondering what the difference is between those and SD-WAN.

While there are several small differences, the primary difference between the various network solutions is that SD-WAN serves as the centralized conductor that links all data and locations together by using available internet services.

So, in essence, they work together to push your data to where it needs to go within your network or organization.

What are the major benefits of managed SD-WAN for business?

Aside from the obvious benefit of enterprise connectivity, what can SD-WAN do for your business that traditional networking cannot?

Well, firstly, managed SD-WAN integration and services offer both networking and security capabilities in a single, convenient package. Plus, ‘managed’ means that it’s largely hands-free and maintenance is relatively low.

[Image]

Because the concept of managed SD-WAN encompasses both the managed networking and managed security arenas, it offers double-sided benefits to your business operations:

 

MANAGED NETWORKS MANAGED SECURITY
Improve Team & Process Agility Maintain Regulatory Compliance
Reduce IT Costs and Overhead Prevent Potential Risk
Maximize Productivity Minimize Vulnerabilities
Reduce Downtime Increase Incident Response
Minimize Maintenance Improve Asset Management

Pro Tip: Check out these 6 common enterprise IT issues that are solved by managed SD-WAN solutions.

What are the major features of managed SD-WAN?

When it comes to selecting an important piece of software or equipment for your business, weighing the benefits against the potential risks is only one part of the equation. Understanding the individual features that can impact your business operations is the next step.

Managed SD-WAN offers some unique features that make your life easier and more connected without sacrificing the functionality that you need to do your job:

  • Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP)
  • Flexible Connection Options
  • Direct Cloud Access
  • Multiple Security Features
  • Smart User Interface
  • Centralized Controller
  • Easy Deployment Measures
  • Minimal Packet Loss
  • Better Bandwidth Allocation
  • Outage Detection & Correction

How can you effectively evaluate SD-WAN software and managed providers?

Evaluating and choosing the right managed provider can be a chore, especially if this is your first foray into managed services and software. But, it’s a necessary evil to make sure that you find the right client-market fit for your long-term goals and your customer’s needs.

It may seem a little daunting at first, but vetting the right managed SD-WAN provider can be simplified by asking the right questions right out of the gate:

  1. How do your service and delivery compare to [insert competitor name]?
  2. What is the guaranteed uptime of your service? Can you guarantee uptime?
  3. Do you support zero-touch deployments?
  4. What safeguards do you have in place to protect against outages and brownouts?
  5. What level of encryption and firewall security does your service offer?
  6. What kind of support is available should a problem arise?
  7. Do you have 24/7 customer service and support?
  8. What kind of staff training do you offer to get our team up to speed?

While this list of potential questions is not the end all be all for vetting your prospective provider, it is a great start to open up the lines of honest communication and provide you with insight into whether the provider will be a pass or fail for your needs.

How do you use SD-WAN in your day-to-day?

Getting the most out of your new SD-WAN network is as simple as connecting to the internet and going about your business. Seriously, there’s nothing extra to do once you’ve chosen a provider and implemented your solution. Simply connect and get to work!

Connect Your Entire Organization in One Simple Move

Whether you’re brand new to cloud-based networking options and selecting managed service providers or you’re a veteran to the process, following the tidbits provided in this article will give you the insight you need to make an informed decision on your managed SD-WAN services and providers moving forward.

Or, if you’d like to learn more about how managed SD-WAN can improve connectivity and productivity for your business, please contact us today for a free consultation.

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