Up until 2010, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) worked well for large corporations. Applications used to be hosted locally, users were tethered to fixed locations without demanding mobility in network access. Business needs and challenges were also manageable at that time.
Fast forward to 2019, and the global use case has changed dramatically. With cloud hosting and mobile computing options exploding ubiquitously, users now expect to work from anywhere in the world. Virtualisation of hardware resources is the way forward, and business challenges and solutions have escalated in complexity and cost.
Corporations need more versatile, scalable and secure WAN solutions to stay relevant in the age of digital transformation without breaking the bank. In their search for answers, CIOs are starting to gravitate towards improving their WANs by virtualisation through software-defined networks (SDN) and their practical implementation into SD-WANs.
IDC estimates that the SD-WAN infrastructure market is poised to reach US$4.5b by 2022. Gartner has already declared SD-WAN as a mainstream solution for fence-sitting enterprises still waiting for the magic bullet for their WAN needs. Its analysts note that “the benefits of an SD-WAN approach are substantial compared to traditional approaches, including simplified management and operation, reduced costs, and increased visibility and security.” They have concluded that the reasons to implement SD-WAN technology far outweigh the risks.
Similarly, Forrester estimates that 90 percent of network managers are looking to evolve their WAN architecture and find the software-defined approach to be the future. The research firm found that SD-WAN is “highly appealing” because there are benefits to efficiency, flexibility, and security. Their survey showed that SD-WAN is still an emerging technology but will be “integral in shaping the future of WAN management.”
The Goldilocks Principle
A managed SD-WAN solution serves as an overlay networking technology for automating and orchestrating WAN connections. It simplifies or eliminates manual processes, reduces lead times, and increases enterprise agility substantially. Enterprises can then free up their budgets and resources, allocating them to turn up new services and improve customer-centricity.
In selecting an managed SD-WAN provider, you need to observe the Goldilocks Principle – finding a service provider that offers just the right mix of top-notch SLAs and flexible implementations for any foreseeable enterprise requirements.
Here is a checklist of requirements for evaluating managed SD-WAN solutions:
- Integration – Does the solution offer integration with existing enterprise architectures with minimal migration pain, and offer granular control over firewalls, web filtering and security policies?
- Future-Proof – Are SD-WAN’s minor disadvantages (on-site security, investments for self-management of the network, etc.) adequately mitigated by the service provider for specific current and future needs of your enterprise?
- Seamlessness – Where required, does the solution fit into a hybrid MPLS architecture if your enterprise sees this as a good way to test SD-WAN out for a period of time?
- Differentiation – What unique features make a particular SD-WAN provider stand apart from the others for the particular needs of your enterprise?
- Service-Level Agreement – What makes the terms of the SLA stand out from others when you compare it against other service provider?
- Service Excellence – Are the service quality track records, testimonials and brand-quality commensurate with the rates being offered?
- Flexibility – How tied-down will the managed SD-WAN solution be, in the event your enterprise needs to integrate the current setup into any architectural upgrades and changes?
- Scalability – Does the service provider have extensive global reach compared to others?
- Availability – Are the service provider’s network infrastructure and vendors of equally high reliability and can this be substantiated and guaranteed?
Planning to move to SD-WAN? Find out more about why Epsilon’s SD-WAN solution can help you sleep better at night.