The impact of COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to digital ways of working. Its likely many organisations will need to make changes to their WAN to keep up with rising bandwidth demands and prepare the way for future transformation.
Making the move to SD-WAN gives you enhanced connectivity options that support a ‘cloud first’ strategy, increased operational reliability, and the ability to deliver new services faster. But the benefits of evolving your network doesn’t end there. You can manage your entire network from a single dashboard, quickly deploy new branches, automate operational processes, and easily connect people and their devices to applications.
Plus, studies show that SD-WAN deployments can reduce branch WAN outages and troubleshooting costs by 90%. That’s on top of the savings to be made by using connectivity options like 4G and internet links in addition to traditional services like MPLS.
Yet the biggest promise made by SD-WAN is that it simplifies WAN management. So, why would you want to consider outsourcing SD-WAN to a managed service provider?
1 Access to specialist technical expertise.
SD-WAN does simplify the management of the network and deployment of services however the implementation and configuration is complex and requires a specialist skill set.
While the SD-WAN user interface makes things easy to change, the implications of these changes can be far reaching. And that introduces new risk for IT teams who will have to acquire the know how needed to handle a mix of internet and traditional technologies, deal with multiple circuits at each site, and route traffic dynamically.
For the whole network to perform well, deep network expertise will be required at the design stage and during deployment to ensure the underlay is sized to support the traffic and performance your applications need. After which, when things go wrong, problems will still need to be identified and rectified fast.
All of which begs some key questions: do you have the relevant experience to manage rapid configuration changes without risk, or have what it takes to fix latency problems when these arise? Plus, when it comes to managing connections to the cloud there will be a lot of design choices and management implications to consider. All of which will impact design decisions.
2 Save time and money by handing off management challenges.
One of the biggest attractions of SD-WAN is the ability to easily and transparently aggregate links, especially internet links, from diverse carriers into a single WAN. This not only helps to make branch connectivity more resilient it also makes bandwidth increases more affordable.
But this pursuit of savings and agility means IT teams will have a lot of ISPs and connectivity providers to manage. They will need to learn how to work with technical support in multiple organisations, especially when troubleshooting problems. In addition to all this, IT teams will need to track service contracts and billing, resolve disputes and more.
Being able to hand off last-mile and ISP aggregation, management and support integration to a managed service provider will save time, money, and reduce training and administration overheads. Freeing IT teams to focus on their core skills – adding value to the business.
3 Eliminate security gaps.
When branch offices connect directly to cloud or internet services to avoid backhauling traffic and applications through the core network, the benefits of the enterprise security stack are lost. Once an SD-WAN solution is deployed, IT teams need to ensure that security gaps are not created from dynamically changing connections.
Partnering with an experienced managed service provider who knows how to address the security challenges involved, can undertake 24×7 security monitoring, and understands how to address constantly changing environments represents a unified and streamlined approach to securing branch office connections.
By handing over this responsibility, you will be able to tap into the integrated security solutions managed on your behalf to achieve more efficient protection.
4 Eliminate the hassle of ensuring business critical infrastructure is ‘always on’.
Managing incidents is part and parcel of any network infrastructure role but it represents a significant time and resource drain on IT teams. Partnering with an MSP gives you the comfort of having an agreed SLA with a provider who is responsible for proactively addressing issues, before these can impact WAN performance.
It will also eliminate any need to operate or staff a 24×7 WAN helpdesk to support end users, wherever they may be located.
5 Moving to a pay-as-you-use cost model.
Deploying an SD-WAN can be a resource heavy undertaking which has a significant impact on capital expense budgets. Depending on how many sites you need to cover, or the complexity of your data needs, you’ll first need to navigate a variety of practical deployment decisions and then commit to the up-front expenses of maintenance, management and optimisation of the SD-WAN environment.
Partnering with an SD-WAN-as-a-service provider is a practical way to take advantage of the benefits of SD-WAN as a manageable monthly recurring service.
Aggregating different costs into a single monthly bill for hardware, software, circuits, management and MACDs (moves, adds, changes, deletes) and installation costs, IT teams benefit from a simplified and transparent OPEX cost with no CAPEX and minimal intervention responsibilities when it comes to the support and management of the SD-WAN.
DIY vs. Managed SD-WAN
A good MSP will work with you to define a solution for your specific needs – however complex, and ensure your SD-WAN runs smoothly so you can focus on activities that add value to your business. Your MSP will facilitate your migration to SD-WAN, provision services, handle licensing costs, support end users, take care of security and even handle things like managing user access, authentication configurations, and day-to-day network administration. Plus, they’ll constantly monitor your extended environment, addressing issues as these occur.