As discussed in Part 1 of this post, software-defined wide area networks offer a number of benefits – increased operational efficiency, faster deployment speeds, and deep network visibility and analytics – that make the solution attractive to enterprises. In Part 2 of this post, we discuss the benefits of working with a network service provider (NSP) to tap into their managed services expertise as your organization embraces SD-WAN.
What is Managed SD-WAN?
Managed SD-WAN is similar to a number of managed services offerings (managed LAN, managed router, managed firewall/security, managed VPN, to list a few) that NSPs offer in the market today. In managed SD-WAN, the service provider installs and manages the edge devices, procures and manages access links from multiple NSPs, and manages the day-to-day network management aspects of the solution, freeing your internal team to focus on other strategic initiatives.
Why Managed SD-WAN vs. DIY?
WAN management today is a complex process and requires expertise on the enterprise end for network managers to run and operate a nationwide or global WAN. The process can be daunting when it involves multiple transport and access providers from across a distributed geographic area. Since most organizations are already reducing their network/IT staffs to control costs – while at the same time putting pressure on existing staff to achieve improved operational efficiency – migrating to SD-WAN can add to the burden.
That is where managed SD-WAN can help versus taking a do-it-yourself approach. NSPs have the expertise and technology to integrate disparate operations and management systems across various access providers, presenting a unified view for enterprise network teams.
Managed SD-WAN also allows customers to evaluate and adopt SD-WAN in phases. With some services, enterprises can pay a flat monthly subscription fee to install, monitor and maintain network equipment (such as routers) at branch offices, instead of making a CAPEX investment. NSPs can offer a new Service Level Agreement (SLA) that guarantees service availability for your critical applications across the distributed WAN locations.
Taking the First Step Toward SD-WAN
Organizations evaluating SD-WAN are continuing to pursue hybrid network strategies, augmenting their MPLS networks with broadband access at key sites and replacing branch site MPLS links with broadband Internet. Leading NSPs have taken initiatives to expand their footprint (through direct investments or wholesale arrangements) to tap into the upcoming demand for Internet-based circuits. Additionally, the NSPs are also collaborating with SD-WAN vendors, as they have previously with developers of prior network optimization technologies, to bundle their network and service management capabilities to support the transition to SD-WAN. If your company is considering SD-WAN, talk to your network provider about their ability to support your SD-WAN journey.
The Path to SD-WAN Starts with Hybrid Designs
While SD-WAN will bring major change to the enterprise, the path to getting there is more evolutionary than revolutionary. For most organizations, the best place to start can be with Hybrid Networks combining the predictable performance of MPLS, the cost efficiency of IPsec VPNs, and the visibility and control of software defined technologies like those in our Application Performance Optimization products.
Guest blog post by Roopa Honnachari from Frost & Sullivan, a global consulting firm and a strategic partner to EarthLink. They work with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants. This is the second post in a two-part series on SD-WAN.