Thinking about SD-WAN? Here’s how to buy only what you really need

14 April 2020

Sylvain Quartier, vice president, marketing and product strategy at Ekinops

Sylvain Quartier, VP, marketing and product strategy at Ekinops

SD-WAN has emerged as compelling to satisfy demands for a highly evolved network. Yet, like any significant upgrade, SD-WAN brings adoption challenges and costs.

You need to consider both in making your choice. What’s more, as the market has become saturated, “the right path” to SD-WAN has become harder to identify. So, when time and resources are stretched, is there a best practice formula? Sadly not; there is no “one-size-fits-all”. That said, there are factors that should contribute to your SD-WAN adoption strategy to get you off to a good start. Love your legacy? Extending your MPLS system does not offer the flexibility and agility you need. Put simply, you need SD-WAN. But does that mean it’s time to clear out your legacy services? Not quite. Service providers see an opportunity to tap-in to new revenues by offering SD-WAN as a managed service. After all, many users are not asking to get rid of their MPLS services. Rather, they are asking how they can get greater agility and control over their application traffic management and cloud access. A managed SD-WAN also reduces the time and resources you need to spend. Keep it simple Deployment and maintenance should be low cost and as easy as possible.

The cost of launching a managed SD-WAN is mainly operational, rather than related to technology. Zero-touch provisioning is invaluable, saving time, cost and technical complexities associated with site intervention. While “off-the-shelf” SD-WANs have commonly required additional hardware, new products that use existing hardware – or added as an extension – are now changing the market. With SD-WAN as one of a number of functions within a single box, both management requirements and costs can be dramatically reduced. Open up to new ideas Selecting an SD-WAN based on its openness can be a game changer and will protect your investment in the longer-term. Vendor lock-in not only leads to higher pricing, it also restricts innovation. With an open solution, integrating new services from third parties is not only possible, it’s very plausible. It can still support those “big brand” services if that’s what you require.

Pay for what you need and nothing more Many off-the-shelf products deliver far more than is actually ever required, needlessly increasing TCO. A small- or medium-sized business simply trying to extend its network with local break-out doesn’t need the same SDWAN as a large enterprise with businesscritical applications to protect. Develop clear projections for the applications and likely capacity you’ll need. This should go some way to highlighting the benefits of opting for a modular offering from a smaller specialist, instead of buying by default from the big brands. As well as promoting cost-efficiency, this is also a brilliant way to ensure your chosen SD-WAN is flexible and future-proof. And you can scale up in response to future new requirements.