One of the biggest benefits of SD-WAN is the ease it brings to WAN management, but how can you make sure you're getting the best output from your investment?
Today, IT departments are under pressure to do more with less; manage more sites and more clients with limited budgets and a relatively small team, without any reduction in reliability and security but all the time looking to improve the user experience. Does this ring true? As new applications emerge, whether hosted on premise or in the cloud, demands on WAN throughput, efficiency, and reliability increase. It’s a fine balancing act between improving WAN functionality and service levels while at the same time lowering costs.
As network managers like you consider ways to improve WAN functionality while lowering costs, it’s not surprising that the interest in SD-WAN has dramatically increased. With SD-WAN you can manage your entire network from a centralised dashboard, quickly deploy new branches with any transport, and automate operational workflows. The agile routing across your WAN not only reduces complexity but also cost – it’s a no brainer!
And it’s already proving to be a game-changer for wide area networking with hundreds of companies scrambling to embrace the SD-WAN boom. And it’s no surprise why: SD-WAN offers 2.25x more bandwidth, software updates can be completed 51% faster and there’s 94% less unplanned downtime.1
As Rohit Mehra, VP of network infrastructure at IDC stated: “The question for enterprise IT is really what's the right time for them to embrace it because you don't want to be a digital resister for too long."2 So if it’s not a case of if, but when, you choose SD-WAN, the next big question is whether you deploy and manage the high performance network in-house (DIY) or work with a managed service provider (MSP) who handles the installation and ongoing support. Or a hybrid version of the two.
What’s right for your business really depends on your comfort level and ability to execute. For example, do you have the expertise to deploy SD-WAN yourself?
One of the biggest benefits of SD-WAN is the ease it brings to WAN management. So you could be forgiven for thinking you don’t need a fully managed service. Wrong! With an MSP there is a single point of responsibility for all aspects of the service right from design, through ordering, provision and go-live, to ongoing infrastructure maintenance. They effectively help you get the best from your network so you can focus on your business. Sound appealing? It should.
Here are the top benefits you could get from working with a SD-WAN managed service provider. You:
- Can hand off the headache of managing connectivity: One of the biggest ways to achieve redundancy and capacity is to add multiple low-cost links at every site. This would be a major headache to do in-house, but an MSP can easily manage and aggregate ISPs for you. At Ideal, for example, we work with a wide selection of UK and global carriers in over 190 countries to maximise resilience, performance and public cloud proximity. So you could be boosting your WAN bandwidth but at less cost.
- Get on-call access to deep technical expertise: Managed service providers have teams of experts working across multiple customer environments, and multiple vendors. They’re able to share industry-wide WAN knowledge and best practice and can give you ready access to deep technical expertise that is sometimes hard to match in-house or, even if you have the skills, it’s difficult to keep your knowledge up to date and relevant. For example, SD-WAN enables you to make rapid configuration changes, but this could open up the risk of change impacting the network. Working with an MSP with deep experience, they’ll be able to assess the impact and reduce the risk.
- Add more robust security: Not all SD-WANs are created equal, and you’ll want to ensure the one you select has advanced security features including encryption, authentication, segmentation and service chaining. An MSP can help you find the right solution for your enterprise and, in addition, they’ll be able to offer extended threat intelligence from their own 24/7 Security Operations Centre.
- Share the pain: Managing incidents is a regular part of all network and infrastructure roles, but it can be a huge time-sink. Even with a simplified platform such as SD-WAN, you’ll need to form a SWAT team to quickly restore services. And this becomes very painful if the incident occurs in the middle of the night or on a weekend. But with an MSP you’ll have the comfort of an agreed SLA. Plus with a trustworthy MSP they’ll be monitoring your infrastructure constantly and can proactively address issues, before they affect performance.
- Minimise surprises: Ultimately one of the biggest benefits is that there are no surprises. You get certainty of spend with a fixed, transparent flat fee giving you control of your budget and ensuring no hidden costs. While you may not be having the same eye-wateringly high MPLS costs as some companies, you still want to know exactly what connectivity is going to cost you each month.
SD-WAN is a potential game-changer for wide area networking. And with a fully managed service, you can be liberated from the hassle of building and maintaining the network on your own. Which means you get to leverage the latest technology, and have time to do what you do best. Now who wouldn’t want some of that?
Image: Mikito Tateisi on UnsplashReference:
- Cisco - How SD-WAN will Transform the Network