The more companies hear about SD-WAN, the more intrigued they are by the technology.

They’re eager to explore the opportunity to replace rigid legacy networks that lack flexibility and programmability, for a software-enabled approach to deploying and managing WAN connectivity.

That’s particularly important in an age when so much of network traffic flows from branch offices to the cloud rather than to corporate data centers.

RuelasWith SD-WAN solutions, organizations can leverage public Internet access to support new branch offices and avoid increasing the cost and size of their MPLS and private network connections.

Or, they can go all in and fully modernize their existing WANs, routers and customer premise equipment with a more dynamic architecture, taking advantage of dedicated private access or a mix of public and private access.

Whatever track companies take, they’ll be able to leverage real-time visibility and control of their entire network.

Business and application-related policies can be applied to deal with changing network patterns and performance requirements and ensure that all network bandwidth resources, from MPLS to public broadband, are fully utilized. 

DIY or Managed SD-WAN?

By 2018, some 30 percent of enterprises are expected to use SD-WAN products and services in their branch offices.

Some companies will opt to have their own IT departments integrate and deploy SD-WAN hardware and software.

But there are many reasons that others will instead choose a managed SD-WAN solution.

For instance, there are challenges that IT professionals should be aware of, such as the lack of interoperability standards and the overhead associated with Internet tunneling that can impact network performance.

The centralized policy management and zero touch provisioning associated with SD-WAN make it seem like a plug and play solution, but there are considerable setup and deployment issues involved.

Managed services providers help in overcoming such obstacles.

Consider these as key value points for working with an MSP on your SD-WAN:

  1. Implementation and management is handled by third party experts, eliminating the risks that are always present when deploying a new technology.
  2. Centralized orchestration and load balancing in a fully managed network fabric enables stress-free chaining of WAN security services across locations around the globe and operating on different schedules. 
  3. By leveraging a managed service’s fully integrated SDN platform, lock-in to a single vendor or technology solution is eliminated.
  4. Access strategies are architected by location and at the intersection of applications and users to strike the optimal hybrid network balance of price, performance, and resiliency.
  5. A transport-agnostic approach means that users can bring their own bandwidth, with the SD-WAN interoperating with third-party vendors' circuits and WANs.

If your company is among those lacking the resources to pull everything together, a managed service is a good choice.

When selecting a service provider, look for competitive differentiators such as the ability to deliver direct connections to a growing marketplace of cloud providers.

Vendors’ ability to meet your performance, geographic and support needs should be premium considerations.

 

Paul Ruelas is director of product management at Masergy, which owns and operates the largest independent software-defined platform in the world, delivering hybrid networking, managed security and cloud communication solutions to global enterprises.