Chances are you’re paying for past network decisions right now. At the time, those decisions made sense. But over time, those decisions multiplied one on top of the other.

Today, your network fabric may be a patchwork because of so many customisations to the original design. Your entire environment is harder to manage and secure, not to mention the time, resources and cost to do so.

If you want to move to SD-WAN, the worst thing to do is bring that complexity over. In fact, SD-WAN is the perfect opportunity to get rid of the clutter and start afresh. But that will require the right approach. Here’s how to do it.

Pare down to the essentials

It’s important to focus on creating efficiencies from the start. So do the groundwork. Explore your environment from top to bottom and discover what should go, what to remediate, and what stays. Be ruthless. Everything you carry over will create further complexity.

Simplicity is vital to SD-WAN. It will make your environment faster and more cost-effective to deploy. And equally important, easier to manage. The stability and ease of MACs post deployment will depend to a great extent on what you cleaned out before the move.

Focus on results

Be clear what your network transformation wants to achieve. Your desired outcome will determine the vendors and technologies you adopt.

For example, is resilience your goal? If so, consider diverse connectivity options like dual links using different last mile technologies.

If performance is your aim, what apps do you want to prioritise? You should also think about whether you need interconnects between critical sites and public clouds.

It can be tempting to adopt the latest technologies simply because they are the latest. But again, focus on the outcomes. SD-WAN alone may look attractive, but a mix of SD-WAN and MPLS may be more practical.

If you do replace MPLS with the internet, remember that 90% of internet products are contended, and without Quality of Service. SD-WAN tools can overcome a lot of issues, but not contention.

Benchmarking your current state should be integral to defining your results. Obviously, it will help you measure improvements as you move to SD-WAN. But equally important, it will offer insights into problems, and what actions you need to take for rectification.