Software-defined networking, especially given its lower cost and flexibility, is widely viewed as a replacement for multiprotocol label-switching. For healthcare organizations and senior care communities, SDN helps IT staff be more responsive to network demands by streamlining management tasks.
SD-WAN solutions enable multisite organizations to better monitor their WANs in real time. The appliances can be physical or virtual; the approach you choose will depend on your needs, your network’s size and how it will be used. Here are some recommendations for getting started on your SD-WAN journey.
1. Keep Your Organization's Bandwidth Needs in Mind
SD-WAN providers routinely use total throughput (the combined symmetrical bandwidth) as a baseline for the type of hardware needed, as well as the software or license costs associated with that hardware. Contact your current ISP to find out how much bandwidth you’re consuming monthly to better prepare for questions from vendors.
2. Determine the Size and Nature of Your WAN
Before starting your search for the right technology, also make sure you have a good understanding of exactly what your WAN looks like. You should be able to describe your physical locations, the layout of the LAN at each location, and what services you’ll need to provide.
3. Get Details from Vendors on SD-WAN Features
Many vendors offer the same solutions but use different terminology. Take notes on each vendor and the specific features they offer that make sense for your organization. Also, be sure to compare quotes from each provider and learn about their different pricing structures. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
4. Test SD-WAN Solutions in Pilot Programs When Possible
For organizations that have the bandwidth, piloting is a good way to gauge your needs in real time. Doing so also allows IT staff to work through potential glitches, so when the time comes for the full deployment, the transition will have fewer rough patches. If you have the resources, make piloting a priority.