Deploying network infrastructure for a business can be a complicated task due to the degree of complexity of this type of services – to say nothing of configuring and starting up the network.
However, there are a number of ways to simplify and streamline the process through things like centralized management and automatic network configuration, scheduling repetitive tasks, receiving technical assistance to deal with complex problems, etc.
Resellers or system integrators, who normally carry out the work in the field (i.e., installing technological solutions at end customer sites), are also in charge of configuring the equipment, and subsequently of tasks like technical assistance, maintenance, etc.
Today we will discuss the option of implementing automatic configuration on an SDN network. Is it the best choice for IT (information technology) service resellers and their clients, particularly SDN networks for SMEs?
Why choose an SDN network?
Traditional networks in most cases are unable to meet the new demands that companies must meet in a highly digitized economy. It doesn’t matter whether it is an SME or that its sector is not directly or indirectly related to technology: classic IP connections alone no longer meet expectations. Software-defined networks (SDN) allow greater dynamism and flexibility by abstracting the control plane from the data plane.
Some of the benefits of current SDN networks are they simplify managing network functions, facilitate implementing applications, have new services, dynamically manage resources or remotely identify and solve network problems thanks to notification functions, and much more.
Advantages of automatically configuring an SDN network
In addition to the qualitative leap that SDN networks represent for the end customer compared to other network architectures, automatically configuring these networks brings attractive benefits for IT service resellers or system integrators.
1. Configuration errors are avoided with SDN networks
Automatic network configuration includes an increasing number of standard configurations that can be tailored to the specific needs of each business, and that avoid errors and other common configuration problems.
2. Save time and effort
If there is a significantly lower margin of error, then thanks to the automatic configuration of the SDN network there will also be fewer incidents.
This means spending less time and resources on ad hoc actions in order to deal with problems that could arise in other types of configurations.
3. Human capital management is more efficient with SDN networks
With automatic and remote network configuration and startup, staff with less technical expertise can handle the repetitive less specialized tasks, using Wizards to tackle more complex platform orientation issues. This can, in turn, mean saving on expensive training programs for part of the IT service reseller staff or being able to directly hire less technical personnel, which also saves costs.
This frees up higher qualified technical staff to deal with other crucial aspects of business, such as identifying new opportunities, developing new services, and so on.
After all, the purpose of technology is to maximize human talent.
4. Cost savings in SDN networks
As a compendium of the above advantages, if automatic SDN configuration avoids errors that lengthen times, and facilitates a more efficient management of the company’s human capital, all this translates into a substantial cost reduction.
This means IT service resellers can budget more competitively on projects for their clients, and their profit margin will grow.
5. Greater satisfaction for SDN end users
The advantages are not exclusive to IT service resellers and system integrators, but also to the end users of the network. Automatically deploying a network can reduce deadlines, avoid prolonged system downtime, etc.
A good starting point to establish or consolidate a lasting and fruitful business relationship between the reseller and end customer.
What are the technical characteristics of automatic configuration of SDN networks?
Having analyzed the advantages, it is now time to get a little more specific and focus on the technical details. What might an automatic SDN network configuration include? On a general level, they include:
- Creating QoS (Quality of Service) rules to prioritize traffic according to client-specific needs.
- Internet lines and load balancing to distribute workloads evenly among different network resources.
- Automatic point-to-point VPN configuration between all locations. Creating VPN tunnels ensures data traffic between geographically distant locations remains secure.
- Multisite topologies with similar configurations for all locations in order to facilitate rapid network deployment.
In addition to what is outlined above, we will now delve a little deeper into some of the technical aspects of the functions SDN/SD-WAN network solutions should offer to facilitate their implementation, configuration and even (near-) automatic monitoring.
Making SDN/SD-WAN network implementation easier
Setting up a VPN typically requires a deep understanding of networks, communication protocols, security, and encryption. This complexity increases significantly with each new customer location and application.
These can include, among others:
- IP addressing in the main and branch offices
- VPN mechanisms, IP addresses, credentials, users
- Application prioritization and routing
- Network access policies
- Wired and wireless configuration for clients
The configuration wizard, specifically designed for new SDN network installations, eliminates much of this complexity by setting parameters in the background and only showing a very abstract interface to the reseller/service provider.
Configuring edge devices or other devices without onsite presence
One of the advantages of setting up the network remotely is that technical personnel do not need to go to the customer’s premises to configure the SD-WAN edge device, or any other physical device.
Facilitating this further is the option of copying configurations from one deployed device to multiple other devices or even copying entire existing locations.
Avoiding repetitive tasks by allowing mass operations
Central to a cloud-managed SDN solution is enabling operations that affect more than one device. Thus, the IT service reseller can input a change only once and, by means of multiple selections, it propagates (theoretically) to an infinite number of devices, user locations, etc.
Examples for mass operations that could be implemented in an advanced SDN/SD-WAN network solution include:
- Simultaneous firmware updates for multiple devices of the same type
- Changing the port configuration for several switches
- Creating application policies that are inherited by all locations throughout the network
Real-time information and problem-solving with smart notifications
The SDN network monitoring system provides (near) real-time information about connected devices and the status of the network. Each device sends status information at regular intervals to the cloud network controller, where it is aggregated and can be viewed by means of graphs and notifications.
In this way, the reactive troubleshooting paradigm becomes proactive network optimization – since the reseller can take steps to improve network performance based on information always at hand.
For specific notifications, the system even offers guidance on how to solve problems by suggesting which parameters and location conditions to check. This will also allow less competent IT service providers to fix customer problems quickly.
Automatic SDN network configuration is the best option resellers or system integrators can choose for their clients. Setting up, deploying and managing distributed network infrastructures takes a fraction of the time compared to traditional networks, and the likelihood of misconfigurations is significantly reduced.
This option is available in be.SDx, a business model option specially designed for IT service resellers and system integrators. By using be.SDx’s own cloud portal and its many SDN features, they will be at the forefront.