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SD-WAN: Your Friend for the Cloud Era

Milind Bhise
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Spending for public cloud services will reach $247 B this year (2017), according to Gartner1. And a Verizon study indicates that over 87% of enterprises had one or more applications in the cloud2. Now that’s a staggering statistic that shows the increased confidence of Enterprise IT for leveraging the cloud. Furthermore, there is a paradigm shift in what the user expects – a rich, seamless experience irrespective of the device and location. But wait, what about the underlying network? It has to be a strategic asset and should emulate the Cloud – be elastic, dynamic and software–defined. In reality, many of these enterprise networks are still stuck in a time warp. The approach to managing the networks is still device-centric and CLI driven, which means they won’t be able to unlock the benefits of the Cloud. Gartner expects that 50% of the cloud deployments will suffer from business impacting performance issues, requiring extensive network redesign1.

To keep up with the needs of today’s unpredictable and complex enterprise networks, IT needs a new approach and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is the perfect technology to enable this. A critical ingredient for any Network Transformation initiative is a trusted partner to help navigate the journey. Not only does SD-WAN lend itself for life cycle services but SD-WAN managed service can create a significant competitive advantage for the partner.

Benefits of SD-WANSD_WAN Powerful tool

A transformational technology, SD-WAN offers many benefits – agility, improved reliability, better performance and reduced costs.

  • Agility: If time is money, then organizations will love SD-WAN. Gartner reports that early adopters of these solutions h
  • ave reduced the time it takes to provision branch-office networks by 50 to 80 percent3.
  • Reduced costs: Organizations can save on hardware, software and IT resources, especially in branch offices, by leveraging zero-touch provisioning and automation. Additionally, many companies realize savings by leveraging low cost internet circuits.
  • Improved reliability: CLI-driven, device-based approaches are brittle and can cause networks to fail. SD-WAN improves reliability by reducing the chance for errors and automating many manual configuration tasks.
  • Improved performance: SD-WAN solutions enable improved performance through simplicity, scalability, visibility and high availability. An ideal SD-WAN solution also offers WAN optimization to improve application performance and employee productivity.

A Perfect Fit – Choosing the Right SD-WAN Solution

Enterprise IT is acknowledging the tremendous benefits an SD-WAN solution can provide. The next step is to propose the right solution for your customer’s environment – one that strengthens their trust in you while helping you expand the services you provide to them. There are many solutions in the market from different vendors, small and large.

As you look at the different SD-WAN solutions, it’s critical to look at the following capabilities.

Unified Connectivity: Does the solution offer unified connectivity across the entire networking fabric. i.e., the Cloud, data center, WAN, and wired and wireless LAN? You should be able to connect to the cloud, within the cloud and even between multiple clouds. A quick and simple way to connect to all these resources is absolutely critical. Think about it, the quicker and simpler the SD-WAN solution, the more time you save per customer, the more customers you can service. In a nutshell, more revenue potential for you.

Centralized Policy and Orchestration: To achieve the goal of operational efficiency and superior performance, the SD-WAN solution should leverage business-aligned, policy-based automation to define quality of service and access privilege for all apps and users. True ZTP (zero touch provisioning) should enable bringing-up new branches quickly and without physically sending a networking expert to the site.

Integrated App Performance and Security: Application performance often suffers due to network and other infrastructure issues, impacting employee productivity and user experience. The right solution should offer integrated WAN performance functionality for improved application performance. Keep in mind that WAN performanc

e and SD-WAN functionality are difficult to integrate unless done by the same vendor, since WAN performance algorithms treat the traffic in proprietary formats, which can be a cryptic cipher for SD-WAN path steering algorithms. Additionally, real-time native visibility and monitoring of apps, network and end user experience provides the necessary intelligence to the IT professional to identify and troubleshoot performance problems. Further, an ideal solution will not compromise the security posture when connecting to and leveraging the cloud.

How Does This Help You?

As with any emerging technology, customers need assistance throughout the entire deployment life cycle. Be a trusted partner to the enterprise as they navigate this journey. SD-WAN offers a great opportunity for incremental revenue to resellers. There is also a need for SD-WAN managed service as some end users would prefer that model. Partners offering SD-WAN managed service have a significant competitive advantage – they can provide the agility, resiliency and performance to drive the customer’s business value while simultaneously lowering their own OpEx due to policy-based orchestration and automation.

As companies migrate to the cloud, rethinking their approach to networking to align it to the cloud era will make the migration successful. Device-centric and command line-driven networking approaches defeat the advantages of the cloud. SD-WAN increases the business agility and performance all while lowering TCO. SD-WAN is your friend for the Cloud era. But choose the SD-WAN solution properly – one that will help to unlock the power and agility of the cloud and provide the benefits mentioned above.


Footnotes:
1. Gartner, Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2014-2020, 4Q16 Update
2. Verizon customer survey of enterprise-level cloud customers, October 2015
3. Gartner, Technology Overview for SD-WAN, July 2015