What You Need to Know for SD-WAN Testing

SD-WANAs companies begin hearing about software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and contemplate deploying the approach in their environments, there are numerous questions that arise surrounding testing. Every SD-WAN provider lists a variety of features, and it’s important to test those features before making a final decision or attempting to implement.

Here are the areas you should test when running your proof of concept (POC):

Path selection: One of the reasons you’re likely to be considering SD-WAN is its ability to split traffic between dedicated links (which cost more) and low-cost internet virtual private networks (VPNs). It’s not easy for SD-WAN to distinguish between mission-critical and less important traffic, but doing so is important for you in terms of cost savings. Each vendor features its own algorithms for making these determinations, so make sure the provider you’re considering has the capability to support the path selection needs of your company.

Scalability: What will your SD-WAN needs be as your company grows? Do you plan to employ a hub-and-spoke model or will your network be full mesh? Full mesh networks require a different level of complexity when it comes to network support, so make sure your SD-WAN is prepared to grow with you.

Failover: SD-WAN is a good choice because it offers failover capabilities in the event of a link outage. What’s more challenging is determining a true link outage from a momentary pause (which happens frequently) or a high level of packet drops. Your testing should include link outage failover response as well as determination of how a particular SD-WAN handles heavy congestion, momentary outages, and a variety of packet loss rates.

Application performance: Testing application performance is important, particularly if you’re counting on SD-WAN to provide application acceleration. You need to test under real-world conditions to experience how the network will affect the end user’s experience. Acceleration improvement rests heavily on network conditions, latency, jitter, and loss, so take time to test whether your applications will experience acceleration with an SD-WAN solution.

Usability: The POC of your choice for SD-WAN should include heavy usability testing. Practice the activities you conduct on a daily basis to see how responsive and user-friendly it is for you. Try adding and removing users, installing new SD-WAN locations, changing application parameters and reconfiguring nodes for existing locations.

The surge in interest for SD-WAN means there are many providers offering similar services. Before you make a decision, take time to thoroughly test your final candidates. Whether you’re just getting started or are nearing the testing phase, give Focal Solutions a call. We can help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of SD-WAN and guide you to a decision that supports your company and its growth.