From WAN to SD-WAN
If you’re like increasingly more businesses these days, you’re realizing your WAN is no longer cutting it for your modern business. Today’s businesses have shifted to a more digital, cloud-based infrastructure that requires easier management of the many connection types across a traditional WAN. Enhancing multi-application performance, security and end-user experience is now the focus, and SD-WAN provides that capability.
So many organizations are transitioning to SD-WAN that IDC forecasts the SD-WAN infrastructure market will likely exceed $5 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 31 percent from 2018 to 2023. IDC defines SD-WAN as “a dynamic, policy-enabled hybrid WAN that uses at least two or more connection methods (such as MPLS, broadband internet, 3G/4G, etc.) and includes a centralized application-based policy controller that provides intelligent path selection, along with an optional forwarder for routing capability.”
The premise behind SD-WAN is to enable software to streamline and manage a distributed network. With data demands only expected to grow, companies have to think bigger than WAN and embrace more advanced technologies to keep their businesses running smoothly even as they keep up with new ways of working.
Network World says SD-WANs offer ease of deployment, central manageability and reduced costs, and can improve connectivity to branch offices and the cloud. Businesses must be able to offer inter-branch communication and provide an uninterrupted way for employees to be able to share information and stay connected, even if they are working remote or traveling.
SD-WAN uses software to make sure network traffic is intelligently routed through appropriate channels or paths so your network runs efficiently. All users, whether they are your employees, partners, clients or vendors, want to connect without delays, interruptions or quality issues. They likely don’t know or care how it’s done; they just want it to work. SD-WAN gives companies an easier way to manage the network traffic and ensure users have a good experience.
DIY or Managed SD-WAN?
Building SD-WAN is complicated and requires specialized telecommunications and networking expertise. It is often why some companies are hesitant to transition to SD-WAN. Gartner found that 50 percent of enterprises have concerns about their lack of technical familiarity when it comes to implementing SD-WAN. Depending on your IT resources’ skill sets, experience and bandwidth, and your capital budget, you may choose to keep the transition in-house or hire a managed solutions provider to do it for you.
Keep in mind that the DIY route involves more than designing the network. And even if you purchase your SD-WAN directly through a SD-WAN provider, don’t assume they have a certified team to help you every step of the way with implementation. There are various components to implementing SD-WAN correctly. You have to know which equipment and technology is required, how it will interface with your existing network infrastructure, and then managing and maintaining the SD-WAN over time, including multiple carriers if you have multiple locations. Even if you have a robust IT business unit, this added responsibility for a complex network comes at a cost as well. What other digital transformations could they be working on? Are they focused enough to implement SD-WAN correctly the first time around? What other business value could they be bringing?
The truth is, many companies need an objective assessment to see where efficiencies could be made, costs reduced and simplifications made so the network is not only more streamlined, but it meets the demands of its users. It must be able to scale, and often that means it should be designed upfront with that in mind. Most legacy networks can’t do this well. While some legacy equipment and technology can be utilized in the transformed SD-WAN network, there are enough enhancements and modifications required that it is likely best to rely on telecom experts.
Luckily, you have flexibility here. If you work with a managed SD-WAN solution provider, you can leverage their expertise to whatever level you need. From network assessment and consultation to planning and designing, to helping you through deployment or to managing the SD-WAN network for you, the SD-WAN solutions provider serves as an extension of your IT department. They will help you find an SD-WAN provider that fits your needs and that they recommend based on their experience. Whatever tier of support you need, your SD-WAN solutions provider is there to ensure everything runs smoothly, is cost-effective, and easily manageable.
Why Not Work Directly with an SD-WAN Provider or Carrier?
For companies ready to make the transition to SD-WAN and not wanting to deal with it in-house, the instinct is to go directly to an SD-WAN provider or a carrier that offers SD-WAN. But as with any direct provider, you always have to wonder if you’re getting objective recommendations and are not paying for anything you do not need. For instance, you may have existing infrastructure that will work in your enhanced network. The SD-WAN provider may not be particularly focused on designing a customized network with the best connectivity options.
When you work with a managed SD-WAN solutions provider, you are paying for technology and carrier-agnostic recommendations, as well as engineering expertise that is focused on optimizing your business. Without incentive to push certain products, certain carriers or an one-size-fits-all network design, managed providers put your business first, placing your current and future business needs ahead of all else. They will manage the various connectivity circuits along with the many carriers involved in your SD-WAN solution.
Carrier management may seem the least of your worries when you are considering enhancing your network, but make no mistake, carrier management can be a massive headache, generating dozens, if not hundreds, of separate invoices someone has to manage. Because of the sheer volume of carriers, contracts and invoices, many businesses have no idea what they’re spending and where. Costs can quickly get out of control and drain resources. And as your company grows and adds new branches, more carrier invoices follow.
The best managed SD-WAN solutions providers understand carrier management has to be simplified. BCM One is a managed solutions provider that offers a BillPay service as part of its technology expense optimization solution. Sophia™ automatically manages the payment of all of your carrier bills, following accepted accounting principles and providing you with a paper trail for record-keeping or auditing purposes. This saves your accounting team countless hours and ensures you have greater oversight over carrier contract obligations so you are only paying for what you should be.
Building SD-WAN Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
If you’re wondering how to build SD-WAN, going with a managed SD-WAN provider like BCM One ensures your transition is smooth and your network performance is optimized. While you are enhancing your network’s capabilities and creating a more scalable infrastructure, you can reduce its complexity and costs.
Rely on a managed SD-WAN provider with deep network expertise to guide your team or manage the transition for you. Either way, your network will be more agile to growth and changes, more responsive to business demands, and more secure with software-defined protocols. A more reliable network is a win for your users. A more sustainable and manageable network is a win for the business.