The Math Behind EMA's Riverbed SD-WAN ROI

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Cost savings with SD-WAN has been a hot topic for the past several years. Many have struggled, however, to quantify the savings and ROI, both in CAPEX and operational efficiencies. Until now. A 100-branch WAN could, for example, see $2,330,788 in total ROI over five years. That number rises to $27,956,832 for a 1,000-branch WAN. That’s all according to a new study entitled "Measuring the ROI of Riverbed SD-WAN" from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

Where do these impressive savings come from? And how can they be achieved? Intrigued, we turned to the white paper’s author, Shamus McGillicuddy, Senior Analyst at EMA, for some answers.

So, before you check out the whitepaper, let's hear what McGillicuddy has to say.

Dodging the MPLS premium

The first factor that comes to mind, says McGillicuddy, is the high price of MPLS compared to standard Internet connections.

"MPLS typically ranges in price from $100 to perhaps $400 per megabit per second in North America, and even higher in other regions, and that's really expensive when you compare that to the $5.50 per megabit per second that a typical business Internet connection costs," he says.

Savings come from SD-WAN solutions that enable you to use a mix of traditional MPLS and less-expensive broadband. Because SD-WAN can monitor link conditions and steer traffic away from Internet connections that might be having trouble, it can be used more widely without compromising service levels.

"You're not only reducing cost, you're also getting a lot more bandwidth at each site, which is really important given today's bandwidth-hungry apps, be it voice, video, or cloud," says McGillicuddy. "When you can push a lot of that over broadband instead of over a bandwidth-constrained MPLS network, you're going to achieve much better application performance and user experience on all affected sites."

Reduced complexity

MPLS networks, McGillicuddy also points out, are usually pretty static. Once they're set up, the infrastructure rarely changes. And instead of offering direct Internet access, they typically first route users to a datacenter which has an Internet breakout.

If IT wants to reduce its reliance on MPLS and start sending certain enterprise traffic to the Internet directly from remote sites, that requires a lot of manual configuration of individual network devices in multiple locations.

"If you've got a thousand sites, then you're going to make a thousand manual changes to your network, and that can take months," says McGillicuddy. "In contrast, an SD-WAN creates an overlay across your network, and the SD-WAN gateway at each remote site monitors the state of each connection. The quality of each network connection, combined with policies set by the network manager, dynamically determines which applications will be sent over which network connections."

For example, the administrator might decide that voice traffic will travel over a certain path by default, but if the SD-WAN detects performance issues it can smoothly fail over to a backup path… then fail back over to the original when its performance is restored. Administrators configure and manage the entire network centrally, using business policies that take into account the business and security requirements and current state of the network. In essence, SD-WAN can intelligently load balance over multiple network connections without any intervention from IT.

"Not only does SD-WAN allow you to make more intelligent use of the different network connections you have," says McGillicuddy, " it also allows you to do so with less complexity, because you can configure your entire network from a central console, instead of manually at each remote site."

The bigger strategic picture

SD-WAN being so much easier to manage and operate can have big effects on employee productivity, too. "It's pretty clear that you're able to manage an SD-WAN network more efficiently," says McGillicuddy. "Then you can save the time spent just putting out fires and use it to focus on high-value IT projects you may have been putting off because of lack of resources."

That could mean piloting IoT, optimizing the overall network, interfacing more with business to better meet their future needs, as examples. Ultimately, by being freed up to work on more important projects, senior-level IT staff can deliver more value to the business.

Get the facts in the whitepaper

Read the full EMA whitepaper, "Measuring the ROI of Riverbed SD-WAN," to learn more about how Riverbed SteelConnect can deliver 6x ROI. Some highlights from the whitepaper:

  • What's driving SD-WAN investment
  • The math behind EMA's Riverbed SD-WAN ROI numbers
  • How SD-WAN delivers IT productivity gains and increased uptime
  • Five-year ROI projections
  • Security benefits of SD-WAN

Download the full whitepaper and also visit the Riverbed SD-WAN page to learn more.

 

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