Maintaining a highly available network while supporting new business initiatives and migrating to cloud requires a fundamental shift in how we approach network design and architecture. Many enterprise IT organizations, riding the SD-WAN craze, are undertaking such transformations, often with mixed results. According to Andrew Lerner, Gartner Research VP and Sanjit Ganguli, Gartner Research Director, in their report, Take These Six Steps to a Better Network, there are six key practices networking leaders should leverage to improve the efficacy of their network infrastructure.

While Andrew is a strong proponent of SD-WAN, commenting on the hype of recent “software-defined” networking product announcements, he and Sanjit support our assertion that creating a highly available and agile network is a much broader effort than simply deploying SD-WAN at the edge — and that in addition to technology, network transformation efforts also need to encompass people, culture, and processes.

Here are the six key steps to improving network cost, performance and agility, while simultaneously future-proofing the network to align with emerging business requirements:

  1. Start with an application and business-centric design.
  2. Segment your network.
  3. Take (calculated) risks to foster innovation.
  4. Implement network automation.
  5. Invest in programmable network infrastructure and skill sets.
  6. Move beyond the (network) silo.

You can download a free copy of the full Gartner report from Apcela partner Cumulus Networks.

If you’re interested how these ideas play out in practice, we will be providing insight for our six-part series, where each week we’ll dive into one of these areas and break it down based on real world implementations. In each step we’ll share some best practices from our own NextGen WAN transformation projects incorporating SD-WAN deployments ranging from a couple dozen sites to hundreds of sites globally, in total spanning more than 160 markets across 40 countries worldwide.