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.

SD-WAN: Combining Intuitive Connectivity, Monitoring, and Provision for Superior Network Performance

SD-WANCompanies today must be able to transact business securely in order to stay ahead of competitors and build a reputation for excellence, and business architectures are changing to meet these new demands. Wide area networks (WAN) offer the ability to connect branch offices and data centers across large geographical areas. When combined with software-defined networking (SDN) technologies which are delivered through the cloud, a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) delivers effective tools that enterprises can safely deploy to retain and expand their profitability.

Virtual private networks (VPN) that are contained in a cloud environment offer cost reductions, improved network management, and an effective user experience for employees and customers alike. This same technology applies to broadband internet connections, increasing their security. Instead of purchasing capital intensive WAN technologies like multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), the migration to SD-WAN provides layer-2 and layer-3 switching possibilities through VPN, optimization, network as a service (NaaS), and application policy and delivery controls.

 

How It Works

SD-WAN technology uses secure broadband connections to replace more expensive legacy technologies. Routing hardware is exchanged using specific provisioning and connectivity through cloud software, which enables companies to scale up during times of peak demand. Security is assured through VPN, and businesses can deploy additional optimization through application policy and provision controls.

For enterprises that now rely on some type of public, private, or hybrid cloud model (that included on-premises servers), SD-WAN delivers effective methods for managing and optimizing the mix of MLPS, Ethernet, cable, and DSL that originates from a variety of local access providers.

 

Business Benefits

Because of its cost to benefit ratio, SD-WAN use is expected to rise rapidly over the next few years. By automating the configuration of edge routers and channeling traffic to less expensive broadband use, businesses like retailers, restaurant chains, and bank franchises find easier ways to manage hundreds of small sites and create cost-effective bandwidth to access cloud storage and applications, all while ensuring security and performance. Network performance results include:

  • Lower Cost—By employing more broadband and fewer private links, the endpoint monitoring automatically provisions packet deliveries using the most efficient configuration for the least cost.
  • Decreased Complexity—Routing protocols choose the best method and stick with it, and they won’t react to packet loss or congested links without external manipulation. SD-WAN dynamically routes traffic according to immediate network conditions. It’s still complex, but there’s less work required to maintain optimum performance.
  • Increased Flexibility—This technology allows businesses to utilize the most cost-effective form of path calculation. Mission critical or SLA-bound applications are routed through the virtual MPLS, which also manages bandwidth consumption, while other apps, backup WAN, and traffic without asymmetric routing can be transmitted through less expensive public cloud.

SD-WAN services better align enterprise networks for optimum performance. By delivering secure, business class connections using cloud-based WAN in a software-defined environment, companies receive better performance, security, and provisioning without the high costs of legacy hardware.

The Time to Adopt 802.11ac Is Now

shutterstock_132011132802.11ac Wi-Fi has truly impacted the wireless networking market. While only a small number of IP-enabled devices including phones and PCs currently have 802.11ac compatible chips, users of those devices are clearly enjoying faster speeds and longer communication ranges. Some of the other benefits associated with this recently introduced technology include:

 
 

  • super fast Wi-Fi that far surpasses the old 802.11n standard,
  • the possibility of replacing outdated wired Ethernet connections,
  • larger bandwidth for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video conferencing applications, and
  • better options for mobile range and channel width.

This new form of Internet connectivity has taken the wireless and remote market by storm. Businesses are guaranteed higher speeds and connectivity that support VoIP and a range of other high-end applications. Customers will have future-proof networking along with a stronger foundation for cloud-based and real-time applications. Now is the time to get a jump start and adopt the 802.11ac interface.

The Features of 802.11ac

Based on its specifications and properties, 802.11ac is three times faster than the old 802.11n model. It can also deliver lighting fast speeds to devices across greater distances with less signal issues than its predecessor. It is able to achieve these feats due to the following signature features:

  • 802.11ac broadcasts on the 5 GHZ band, which is quieter and has less interference than the 2.4 GHZ band.
  • It has a wider range of channels – 256 signals as opposed to only 64 signals in 802.11n.
  • It utilizes eight spatial streams to secure more bandwidth and storage capability.
  • 802.11ac has standardized beam-forming technologies that allow it to easily identify other compatible devices across a wide range, which is superior to traditional Wi-Fi mechanisms that broadcast indiscriminately in multiple directions.

The SD-WAN and 802.11ac Wi-Fi

With HD voice and video streaming services continuing to grow at unprecedented rates, switching over to 802.11ac is a sensible move as it ensures faster communications with a wider range of features. While it may seem to be the perfect solution for companies seeking faster speeds, evolving the wide area network (WAN) is not as simple as adding new 802.11ac compliant routers and endpoints. This move should be accompanied by a smart approach to a company’s WAN.

Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is designed to handle today’s most intricate and widely used applications. This includes VoIP, video conferencing, and other important programs. WAN is always searching for the best paths to take while monitoring metrics like packet loss and jitter. By determining and securing an optimal route for traffic flow, it accentuates the high-speed performance on 802.11ac, resulting in a comprehensive and cohesive networking environment.

Securing 802.11ac Access

Consumers can easily secure optimal access by purchasing compatible routers and 802.11ac-enabled devices. The same can be said for enterprises wishing to overhaul or upgrade their existing network infrastructures. Whether for business or personal use, 802.11ac is the next big thing in Wi-Fi communications.