Lower cost. That’s perhaps the top benefit behind why Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) service is being adopted by many enterprise organizations. It’s clear that dividing traffic between expensive MPLS WAN circuits and less expensive Internet connections does reduce costs. But there are other big benefits that come with SD-WAN, such as faster service delivery. Another is application-aware optimized network performance, where software-defined networking (SDN) architecture and solutions get to shine.
So when your customers ask “How can you verify my service level agreement when I sign up for SD-WAN?” You can now offer service assurance through traffic monitoring in a fully-automated solution―from your network core to end customer devices.
Better SLA Enforcement is now Simple, Automated
SLAs used to be pretty straightforward when WANs, LANs and VPNs made up the enterprise world. Now, networks, services, apps, and devices have changed dramatically with mobility and cloud. Data and traffic volumes have exploded. Network architectures have become more complex. Organizations with high-speed data centers, hybrid cloud environments, and virtual private clouds (VPCs) need to keep up with the accelerating pace of the digital economy. They can’t do that if apps and services are not running reliably and without required service levels.
So SLAs are now a key metric in the digital economy. If apps and services are not running reliably, with required service levels, entire businesses can fail. Brands can become tarnished. Customers will go elsewhere.
The good news is that verifying SLAs for services such as SD-WAN has gotten simpler and more accurate.
Deploying Service Assurance from Core to Edge
With the SD-WAN architecture, you can deploy service assurance as virtual network functions (VNFs) using a white box with a universal CPE (uCPE). Your service assurance VNFs can collect traffic data and apply policies beyond your WAN to the endpoints in a customer’s network. Adding VNFs is now much simpler than setting up multiple tunnels over MPLS. And your service assurance system can now ingest and process richer, real-time, end-to-end packet-level traffic analysis for enhanced security.
Yes, you can do all of this today but the challenges are daunting. Step 1: Pull together reports from the network monitoring system. Step 2: Integrate them with results from your SD-WAN monitoring logs. Or create an API to tie together the two monitoring platforms. It’s hands-on, complex, and now unnecessary.
With service assurance deployed at the edge as fully-automated VNFs that are orchestrated across the customer network and your WAN, you deploy service assurance and monitoring quickly. You get end-to-end traffic data in real-time. And you get a single view of our SD-WAN service to monitor, enforce, and report on SLAs.
Virtual End-to-End SLA Management in Action
Continuous traffic monitoring and synthetic testing helps you ensure the availability, reliability, and performance of applications and services ― both on-premise and in the cloud. Infrastructure health monitoring of compute and network devices is also possible. When your service assurance VNF solution identifies a problem as an infrastructure issue, network administrators can drill down to find out where it is and better understand what is malfunctioning.
Server and device health can also be monitored through polling to provide a holistic view of the end-user experience. The availability and performance of applications can be tested from many locations simultaneously to provide visibility into any location or endpoint. Performance information can be sent to a dashboard with powerful systems administration tools.
The Importance of Root Cause Analysis
With cloud computing it was initially difficult to determine the root cause of service interruptions, given the complexity of cloud―and especially hybrid cloud―environments and enterprise networks. With a VNF solution for service assurance deployed in an SD-WAN, however, you can not only monitoring and manage traffic: you can assign blame for where an issue is impacting the service with much greater clarity.
Is it an SD-WAN issue affecting performance? A premises issue. The uCPE? A rogue server somewhere? A public or private cloud? With your VNF service assurance in place, you can know quickly and with greater confidence where the problem originates and get it fixed before SLAs are impacted.
Make VNFs Part of Your Service Assurance Strategy for Verifying SD-WAN SLAs
So as you launch or fine-tune your SD-WAN service offering, make sure to look at deploying the latest service assurance solutions as VNFs to better understand the health of the WAN and the health of premise applications. You can do it remotely. It’s simple and fast and automated.
With this type of solution in place, you can monitor traffic to understand network performance and adherence to SLAs. Through probing and synthetic transactions, you can measure for errors, throughput, and other performance metrics. You can quickly diagnose problems and communicate with who owns them, whether the customer, field maintenance teams, or admins in your data center.
As with SD-WAN service, virtual service assurance is a lot more cost-effective than alternatives like truck rolls, multi-system integrations, and sleepless nights.
~Written by Gene Knauer. Gene is a senior content marketing writer who works with technology companies in a variety of B2B marketing communications projects.