The adoption of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) gives enterprises more agility and flexibility, as well as increased security for managing a network handling cloud solutions. Unlike a local network, where there is complete control over the design, global SD-WAN introduces new challenges. Managing the middle-mile and backbone performance and managing the last-mile may require a different approach.

Generally speaking, SD-WAN providers don’t have control over middle-mile or last-mile performance or service agility. Last-mile management, particularly, creates difficulties because it becomes the responsibility of the enterprise to engage with local Internet service providers (ISPs) after a problem has been identified. New solutions are being developed to address the challenge of visibility and control over last-mile connectivity.

Middle-mile management: The middle-mile is also known as the internet core, consisting of autonomous and interconnected networks which each have unique business objectives. Traffic flow considerations are managed with financial exchange and ISPs choose pathways for packets based on economics, which ignores other metrics that might be more suitable for the performance of the application.

The result is connectivity that is unreliable and inconsistent. On any given day, internet traffic could take a short, direct pathway or it could bounce all over the globe. This scenario encourages the privatization of the middle-mile, allowing for strict jitter, loss and latency requirements. Many global cloud-based providers offer a global backbone to enhance performance and consistency.

Last-mile SD-WAN management: With each site there’s a unique ISP, and they each require a specific approach with a new relationship, language and process involved. You may be assigned a contact to act as a guide through the initial process and for ongoing troubleshooting, which can present challenges if that person leaves.

While some carriers and providers offer last-mile monitoring and management, their services are often limited by the edge device and its capabilities. When there is a problem, there’s little understanding of the link characteristics and only a line failure may be detected.

Emerging solutions: Some global backbone services are beginning to introduce options for last-mile management. Some may monitor traffic traveling across the customer location to their backbone. Unfortunately, this type of service only manages site-to-site traffic, so it won’t detect an ISP outage or a slow-down related to a Quality of Service or routing issue.

Other technologies are addressing this gap, introducing last-mile management service that detects and addresses all types of ISP failures and slow-downs. For enterprises to have adequate control and maximize the benefits of SD-WAN, this type of visibility and control is critical.

To learn more about emerging SD-WAN management tools, contact us at Clarksys. From leveraging the best networking solutions for your enterprise to optimizing the management of your SD-WAN, Clarksys can help.