With its shiny overlay and alluring traffic-shaping capabilities, software-defined WAN is often portrayed as the panacea of wide area networking. Despite its benefits, however, SD-WAN has its fair share of flaws and challenges.
SD-WAN technology improves application performance thanks to its transport-agnostic routing, traffic steering and failover capabilities. Organizations can use their existing connectivity links with SD-WAN -- or add new, cheaper ones -- and designate which traffic travels over those links.
Another SD-WAN benefit is its relative ease of provisioning. While the idealistic zero-touch provisioning may not always go as planned, SD-WAN does speed up setup times and reduce the need for IT teams to travel to branch sites in order to provision new locations.
Security is both an SD-WAN pro and con. With SD-WAN, teams can configure granular security policies, but it can be challenging to deliver adequate security to multiple types of devices across the data center, branch offices, remote sites, cloud and edge.
Many of the challenges with SD-WAN stem from its complexity. One such example is the risk aversion teams have when tackling a new technology. Before even considering an SD-WAN implementation, teams must first move past this risk aversion.
This challenge then drifts into training and troubleshooting considerations. While SD-WAN enables GUI management and in-depth network visibility, teams must know how to configure and manage routing and security policies and ensure those policies match their business requirements. This requires thorough training with the technology and with the specific vendor product.
Ultimately, the best way for network teams to overcome these challenges is to do their research. Get a head start with this video that looks at more SD-WAN pros and cons.