Businesses should never be forced to choose between flexibility and resilience. SD-WAN offers more flexible WAN service delivery than dedicated circuits, but often by using the public internet, which could leave users concerned about resilience as communications needs scale up.
However, high-quality, resilient and scalable SD-WAN is achievable if businesses plan SD-WAN deployment with quality in mind, think comprehensively about the value that overlays and underlay networks each bring, and formulate a quality assurance strategy involving ongoing testing and network monitoring.
What is high-quality, resilient SD-WAN?
SD-WAN enables business performance benefits for enterprises via virtual software overlays to underlying physical networks, freeing them from rigid, inefficiently-routed dedicated circuits. But it takes two to tango, and achieving maximum business performance and value depends on pairing SD-WAN with the right dance partner–a resilient and reliable underlay network.
The SD-WAN Overlay’s Role in Business Performance
SD-WAN aggregates and optimizes public internet routes, enabling application agility and scalability without having to buy and wait for installation of additional dedicated circuits. This is valuable as users are becoming more distributed, with more dynamic traffic prioritization needs. SD-WAN also provides intelligent network management and granular reporting of performance, application utilization and other data. The ability to massage traffic, perform error correction and set priority queues translates to better business performance.
The Underlay Network’s Role in Business Performance
SD-WAN does its magic via overlay, but overall quality only will be as strong as its underlying network. That means to create a high-quality, resilient SD-WAN, businesses need to choose reputable underlay network operators with strong records of reliability.
How do you test SD-WAN for quality assurance?
Testing the SD-WAN Overlay Network
SD-WAN’s intelligent network management features factor into quality, as does underlay network reliability, but what does “quality” really mean?
With SD-WAN, quality is defined in terms of “Quality of Experience” (QoE), or ensuring users can productively use applications. SD-WAN administrators set prioritization rules to selectively route ingress and egress traffic during times of network congestion to maintain the quality of critical applications.
To assure quality with your network, you need to understand the QoE standards established by your SD-WAN provider - and more importantly, hold them accountable to those standards.
SD-WAN administration capabilities enable monitoring of network performance, resilience and QoE. Below are two examples of network monitoring capabilities within SD-WAN software.
With managed SD-WAN, a provider can handle all of the monitoring for you–but at a greater cost.
Testing the SD-WAN Underlay Network
Underlay network quality is defined by Service Level Agreements (SLAs), measured in guaranteed network uptime. If providers don’t meet SLA guarantees, they owe customers monetary retribution or service level credits, so it’s in the best interest of customers to obtain an SLA tracking tool. One example is Comarch’s SLA monitoring solution.
Network speed tests, such as Ookla, provide users with an easy, quick live look at bandwidth performance. Such services also may offer enterprise-focused tools like data-backed insights and network planning.
Regularly running speed tests on your network can help monitor your network quality at any given moment.
Driving Business Performance
If SD-WAN’s value lies in flexible and intelligent traffic routing and management features, how can a high quality/resilient SD-WAN drive even greater business performance? Whatever business a business is in, downtime is the enemy of productivity and revenue generation.
Cost of Downtime
How can downtime be measured in real dollars? Think about it in terms of lost revenue.
For example, Facebook experienced a global outage in October 2021. More than 2 billion Facebook users couldn’t post updates, and neither could they engage with the ads that provide the bulk of Facebook's revenue. Performance Marketing World noted that based on Facebook’s 2020 revenue of almost $86 billion, the outage is believed to have cost the company close to $164,000 per minute for a six-hour total of around $60 million in lost revenue.
For any business, downtime means sales calls not made, productivity apps not accessed, files not collaborated on, logistics delayed. Interfacing with and supporting customers, whether through physical in-store experiences, e-commerce or call centers, becomes almost impossible. All of that translates to revenue lost.
That’s how having high-quality, resilient SD-WAN directly affects business performance.
Intelligent overlay management matched with underlay reliability provides greater efficiency with lower risk of revenue loss.
In summary - businesses don’t have to choose between network flexibility and resilience. They can have it all.