SD-WAN: Opening the Door for Service Providers to Win More Enterprise Business
Owning and operating strategically important network assets creates a substantial workload for any modern company. It’s not usually their core business and it carries significant capital and operational costs. It’s little surprise then that by 2021, four out of five enterprises are likely to prefer purchasing SD-WAN as a fully managed service from a service provider according to research by IDC.
With many enterprises large and small needing guidance on how to prepare for the cloud era, providing SD-WAN under a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) business model is a market opportunity that hasn’t gone unnoticed by service providers. With about 20% of a typical enterprise’s systems being connected via MPLS, service providers have a golden opportunity to use SD-WAN to extend their existing MPLS business and win more of the enterprise footprint.
A service provider that owns near 100% of enterprise sites will gain not just incrementally higher revenue, but will also be able to offer attractive new services on top of basic connectivity. For example, service providers can create a centralized policy for all application traffic and bundle other revenue-generating value-added services like visibility of WAN operations.
By becoming an enterprise’s preferred SD-WAN supplier offering a fully-managed, transport-agnostic and value-added services solution, a service provider will be the first point of call every time a new IT need arises.
Overcoming technology and commercial challenges
Clearly the market need exists, but what is the best technology to fullfil the potential?
At Riverbed, we believe the answer is the hybrid VPN. This solution combines the best characteristics of the two main existing network technologies—MPLS, which is great for connecting two known, static end-points; and SD-WAN, which is location independent and enables a new endpoint to be added dynamically to an existing network.
The result is a new network topology that focuses not on the configuration of the network, but instead is based on the relationships between the endpoints being connected. Think of it as focusing not on how to achieve an outcome, but on what the outcome must be and then leaving the network to worry about delivering that outcome.
Five dimensions to consider
Finally, a service provider must be sure that any potential SD-WAN partner will be reliable and able to offer the right solutions that will be easy to adopt today and will offer evolving capabilities in the long term.
To guide service providers as they select a suitable partner, Gartner recently published a report “Five Dimensions to Help CSPs Choose the Right SD-WAN Technology Partners.”
The key challenges in choosing SD-WAN technology partners are not only related to finding the right technological capabilities. Partner choice must support the broader Communication Service Provider (CSP) strategy in the managed and virtualized networking services portfolio, cloud offering, expansion to new market segments and sustainable support. Technology product management leaders responsible for choosing SD-WAN technology partners must evaluate the five dimensions of candidate partners illustrated in the Gartner report.
When selecting SD-WAN technology partners, evaluate their strategic fit using the following five dimensions:
- Alignment of existing products and planned roadmaps with the CSP’s intended service management, cloud, Internet, software-defined network (SDN) and NFV strategies.
- Core SD-WAN intrinsic functionalities for a cutting-edge service proposition.
- Risk assessment on partnering with young market players in areas such as financial solvency, operational support, geographic capabilities or vendor lock-in.
- Operational impact on end customer’s transition to SD-WAN.
- Commercial and go-to-market support.
[The above section is an excerpt from Gartner’s ”Five Dimensions to Help CSPs Choose the Right SD-WAN Technology Partners” report, published: 26 October 2017, ID: G00336434, Author: Gaspar Valdivia]
A total NaaS approach
At Riverbed we’ve got all these dimensions covered. Our new carrier-grade, transport-agnostic, complete Hybrid VPN solution for service providers supports a new commercial model with novel service design and operations for a total NaaS approach.
The solution has three key ingredients:
- Technology: Riverbed enables NaaS that allows the service provider to focus on the desired end-state, instead of the configuration of individual network elements
- Operations: Riverbed automates network services orchestration and supports templating of network designs through a modeling approach
- Commercial model: Riverbed enables service providers to offer their customers more innovative and more flexible pricing aligned with their actual consumption.
With the technology considerations wrapped up, we have also tackled the commercial dimensions of being a reliable partner by creating a new Service Provider Business Unit (SPBU) to focus on helping service providers move into NaaS.
With the right solution and right support from Riverbed, service providers can be confident of future new revenue by helping enterprises struggling to connect a growing cadre of remote and mobile workers, as well as the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution that will see a thousand times more endpoints by 2020.
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