Transitioning from MPLS to SD-WAN is a big move. It’s important to remember, however, that even the most dramatic transition requires that attention be paid to small and mundane details. Not doing so can cost time and money — and not a small amount of either.
I speak to a lot of companies. One of the things that I counsel them to do when they decide to switch to SD-WAN is to carefully manage the deployment of direct Internet access and broadband circuits. Even if you’re going to outsource last-mile ordering to a last-mile aggregator, you still need to gather the necessary information for the branch. This process requires good planning and communications and must be set in motion far enough ahead of the switchover to ensure that there is no disruption.
There are several moving pieces that must be considered.
Gather The Installation Data
Part of the SD-WAN approach is connecting branch offices to the Internet via DIA. That means that installation data specific to each location is required. Amassing this data is not a trivial task, and not getting it all together can cause a delay once everything else is ready to go. The data necessary includes the local contact’s name, email and cell number. Large organizations tend to have a lot of turnover, so it’s a good idea to verify that any information you have on hand still is good.
Other key data concerns where telecom providers’ circuits enter the building, which is known as the Main Point of Entry (MPOE). This can be in the basement, on the first floor or a box outside. The property manager likely has this information and can make sure that all the paperwork is in order.
Get the Necessary Permissions
Permissions are vital. If they are incomplete, a switchover can be put on hold. It is important to understand what is needed in specific places. For instance, in Europe, a Wayleave agreement is required in some cases, for the telecommunications provider to be allowed to install, maintain and repair equipment on the customer premise.
This all seems straightforward. But it’s very possible that some of the information will be hard to find. An insurance plan is important, especially if the gap between the installation of the dual Internet circuits and the end of MPLS service is short. In these cases, an LTE backup is a good idea. A router from Cradlepoint or similar vendor can provide enough LTE bandwidth to do the job in most cases.
Check your IP information
When you order your IP connection be sure to check that networking information will meet your needs. Too often I’ve seen enterprises order a DIA or broadband circuit without specifying the number of public IPs required. They receive a /30 when they needed a /29; one public IP when they needed 10.
The Penalty of Delay
The best illustration of the importance of these details is the experience of a customer of ours. The company embarked upon a migration from MPLS to SD-WAN but didn’t order the replacement Internet circuits with enough advance lead-time, despite my urging. The result was predictable: The company was set to leave MPLS – but the replacement circuits were not in place. The company ended up paying $250,000 in MPLS charges that better planning would have avoided.
Avoid that kind of mistake. Start the process of putting broadband and DIA in place as soon as the move to SD-WAN is decided upon. You won’t regret it.