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10 Questions To Ask Before Deciding on an SD-WAN Platform & SASE Network Architecture

By January 4, 2022 No Comments

10 Questions To Ask Before Deciding on an SD-WAN Platform & SASE Network Architecture

After multiple SD-WAN implementations, I am more convinced than ever that the most important step of Globalgig’s SD-WAN Solution Development Methodology is to understand the customer story and uncover the details of their existing environment. From our battle scars with SD-WAN implementations, we’ve validated that the more time we invest upfront with the customer asking detailed questions, the more assured the success.

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Here are my 10 must-ask questions before any decision is made on which platform and network architecture best fit the customer

What are the customers existing challenges, but more importantly, what MUST be solved? I would get this documented front and center.

What is the customer success criteria? What measurable benefits are the customer looking to achieve? Are the criteria reasonable? Which platform gives us the best opportunity to succeed?

What is the customer’s Budget? This exercise not only helps us validate the scope, but also guide us to design a solution with the appropriate OPEX or CAPEX mix.

What is the desired timeline? Understanding the urgency can help project success, as we know procurement intervals and supply chain challenges for specific vendor hardware, which can impact the selection process.

What are the key applications? Which applications are business critical? Where are the location of their head-ends both physical and virtual? Is there opportunity to regionalize? What is their application failover design? This can help drive us towards a resiliency design and even help us identify which platform can best provide end-user experience for their stack across the globe

What is the customer’s existing ecosystem? – Understanding if the customer is heavily invested in a specific networking platform, e.g. Cisco or Palo Alto or otherwise can help us align the appropriate SD-WAN platform into their network.

What is the customer’s existing security program and future vision? We strive to get the security stakeholders involved early in the discussions. Network and security teams often work in silos, but transformation to cloud-based security solutions often blur the lines. If the teams are misaligned, there is opportunity for confusion, missed ROI, and a black eye.

What is the customer’s global footprint? Global internet exchange (IX) can introduce additional jitter/loss challenges and standardizing on a global ISP for at least one of the circuits in problem regions back to the head-ends can bring a better experience to the SD-WAN performance. Some platform vendors also work better in global settings, thus we can propose underlay solutions based on best mix of costs and performance

What is the customer’s skillset and culture? If the customer has highly technical staff, then a simple solution with GUI only controls with minimal configurability may not satisfy them. Some use cases require granular control and expectations should be set throughout the solution development process.

What is the customer’s cloud strategy? Is there an existing cloud strategy? Single cloud or multi-cloud? Are cloud applications for public internet access or designed for branch access? Are the environments built with virtual wan, cloud hub, or transit gateways? Understanding express route, direct connect design and strategy for DCI between data centers and cloud is critical to designing and right-sizing the WAN network.

Getting detailed answers to these questions takes time, but the more meaningful discussions that I and our network engineering team can have with the customer, from stakeholders to end-users, the more effective we can design the solution that fits their exact needs. There’s no doubt in my mind this is the key.

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JAMIE PUGH, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER

Jamie Pugh co-founded Unified Scale which was acquired by Globalgig in early 2019. Pugh joined Globalgig as Chief Technology Officer, responsible for global technology, infrastructure strategy, network architecture, and product innovation. Pugh has over 25 years of experience in networking and information technology. Prior to Unified Scale, Pugh served as the Vice President of Network Engineering for One Source Networks (OSN) and leadership positions at OuterNet and Symbiot.