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SD-WAN has made its mark in the industry as more organizations are able to meet their digital transformation goals in new ways. It can create flexible and efficient ecosystems that present opportunities to integrate the latest technologies seamlessly. For example, SD-WAN extends the benefits of SDN to enterprise branch connectivity, offering a new and improved replacement for traditional enterprise VPN service, such as MPLS, with a secure automated connectivity model that can work on any access network, especially Layer 3 network devices and business broadband. With such explosive growth and a movement away from MPLS networks to SD-WAN environments, it’s becoming the new normal.
SD-WAN allows technology teams to leverage internet vendors all over the world, depending on who is the best and what service works the best with their needs at any given time or in any given location. Often times, in order to get the best service at a specific time or in a specific location, organizations are left with a highly dispersed multi-vendor environment. SD-WAN platforms are built to handle these multi-vendor environments. As the technology simplifies network architecture for greater predictability and control, it’s not a matter of if, but when a business will adopt it.
"Understanding the possibilities, opportunities, and value that SD-WAN can bring will set organizations up for the future and help to improve all aspects of IT"
But while SD-WAN can simplify network architecture in order to increase efficiency, it comes with complexity that IT teams previously didn’t deal with when working with MPLS.
In traditional managed MPLS WANs, the skills required by IT staff were limited to the particular flavor(s) of MPLS adopted by their primary and/or secondary carrier as well as basic routing/switching commands. While the management console of a typical SD WAN portal looks simple, understanding the underlying Layer 3 environment will require a significant uplift in IT skills.
Organizations are quickly discovering that managing multiple internet vendors presents a challenge that they are not prepared for. SD-WAN is designed to simplify the network while enhancing performance, but when it comes to deployment and ongoing management, it requires a certain degree of knowledge and expertise that current teams might not have at deployment.
Additionally, from a technical perspective, when adopting SD-WAN, many complications can come with the benefits of using internal broadband. Certain internet issues need to be addressed in order to get an optimized network. However, an organization’s IT staff that is used to running MPLS is likely not up to speed on how to do this. These teams struggle to understand the dynamics of their new applications, how it works with internet networks, and so on. It introduces a new realm of technical issues that they are not versed in, and frankly don’t have the staffing for.
This is where the hidden value-added service comes in. Where complication lies, opportunity is born! Organizations are realizing that they need a knowledgeable network operator, and should be looking to simplify the management of their networks to deliver the performance needed to accelerate innovation and digital transformation.
Now, companies should be looking to bring in outside expertise to these internet technologies in order to remove the pain points and strain felt by internal teams. In doing so, they can get help in stitching together the underlying network and managing multiple networks as one service, which allows IT teams to focus more on the core needs of its customers and mission of the company. Bundling it all into a value-added service also means it comes with a fixed cost which eliminates the headache of unanticipated bills, complications, and understaffing that stems from trying to manage multiple networks for all different uses, all over the world.
Carriers should be able to offer this kind of service in conjunction with SD-WAN, but it shouldn't stop there. When implementing a SD-WAN management strategy, it’s also important to consider all aspects of IT in order to get the most out of the service. Carriers need to take a close look at their Layer 3 peering strategy in order to guarantee it also optimizes connections to things like cloud services, and to include control of cloud providers, mobile broadband carriers, and API integrations for OSS and BSS.
Understanding the possibilities, opportunities, and value that SD-WAN can bring will set organizations up for the future and help to improve all aspects of IT. To recognize the true benefits of SD-WAN, having that single value added service that can stitch it all together is the key.
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