Industry Trends

10 Top Features to Look for in an SD-WAN Solution

By Patrick Grillo and Cindy Waxer | August 05, 2019

Eager to embrace digital transformation, many organizations are turning to software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions – and it’s easy to understand why. SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN, reduces network complexity, increases network visibility, and leverages lower-cost Internet connectivity. In fact, IDC predicts that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will see a compound annual growth rate of 69.6%, reaching $8.05 billion in 2021.

10 Key Features of a Robust SD-WAN Solution

In today’s crowded SD-WAN market, it can be challenging to know what to look for in a solution. Certainly, must-have features abound, from management tools like centralized controllers to security specifications such as a built-in firewall. Yet purchasing decisions based on features alone ignore the importance of value and user experience.

To ensure you’re getting the most value from your SD-WAN solution, look out for the following features before making a final decision.

  1. Provisioning prowess. Ease the burden on time-strapped IT teams with a solution that automates device provisioning. Better yet, look for a centralized controller that can quickly provision branches and scale easily with zero-touch deployment.
  2. Deployment made easy. Accelerate deployment with a solution that offers single-pane-of-glass deployment, management, and monitoring for all components of SD-WAN, including networking, traffic management, and security components and policies. 
  3. Bandwidth relief. Forget about planning weeks or months in advance to deploy additional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) bandwidth for a traditional wide area network (WAN). With the right SD-WAN solution, organizations can quickly take advantage of widely available business broadband offerings to increase available bandwidth and ensure optimal network and application performance.
  4. Peak performance. Make business-critical applications a priority with the help of application steering. The right application-aware SD-WAN solution can support a broad range of applications, thereby improving cloud application performance and enabling branches to directly communicate to the Internet, especially when using latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video.
  5. Great reliability. By gathering granular WAN path information, an SD-WAN solution can automatically fail over to the best available WAN link. This path awareness intelligence ensures reliable network connectivity for greater business continuity.
  6. Comprehensive policy management. An SD-WAN solution with a management console can ensure IT teams manage and maintain universal policies on everything from security to application filtering across thousands of devices and applications, even across multiple locations.
  7. Flexible connection options. SD-WAN allows traffic to be routed efficiently over multiple channels, including not only existing MPLS circuits but also the public Internet via LTE and broadband. The result is a more efficient approach to managing WAN connectivity and overhead by leveraging more flexible and often lower-cost broadband options.
  8. Direct cloud access. Digital transformation is driving more services to the cloud. Unfortunately, conventional network architectures simply can’t support today’s sophisticated workloads and disruptive applications. The good news: SD-WAN provides direct access to critical cloud applications for users located far from headquarters.
  9. Next-generation security. With every SD-WAN-enabled branch with local Internet access, an organization expands its attack surface. That’s all the more reason to select a solution that broadens protection beyond the data center and integrates the security architecture for centralized visibility and control. Look for a solution with multiple security features, including integrated NGFW, an IPSec VPN solution that can span across and between multiple locations, IPS, Web-Filtering, and high-speed SSL inspection performance.
  10. User-friendly interface. By managing SD-WAN from a simple user interface, such as a single pane of glass management and orchestration console, IT teams can drastically reduce management costs, simplify configuration, and accelerate deployment cycles.

In addition, organizations are discovering that they need to extend many of these functions deep into their branch infrastructure to secure the local LAN and support direct connections to online resources. This need for an SD-Branch solution is yet another example of why, in the crowded SD-WAN market, today’s organizations must look beyond basic feature sets and marketing hype when selecting an SD-WAN solution. Fortunately, these top 10 considerations can lead to the right solution to meet the full range of digital transformation requirements, while lowering the total cost of ownership and establishing greater peace of mind.

Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution includes best-of-breed next-generation firewall (NGFW) security, SD-WAN, advanced routing, and WAN optimization capabilities, delivering a security-driven networking WAN edge transformation in a unified offering.

Read more about how to consolidate branch services, while delivering, security, agility, and performance with Fortinet’s Security Fabric. 

Read these customer case studies to see how Warrior Invictus Holding Co., Inc. and the District School Board of Niagara implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.