SD-WAN has arrived and is undeniably a hot topic in the networking industry given the 60+ solution providers vying for a share of wallet. Enterprises are looking to SD-WAN technology to facilitate better connectivity among their branches, improve application quality of service and drive down data transport costs. Recent industry research1 has predicted that 30% of companies will adopt SD-WAN services by 2019. Consequently, flexibility, automation, service agility with a centralized control and management plane are the top advantages that SD-WAN vendors are promising to deliver. However, before organizations consider adoption, they should look into four critical elements that will determine the ultimate success of any SD-WAN deployment.
A multi-vendor network is the core of most business strategies for best-in-class use case and total cost of ownership. However, most vendors offer a proprietary SD-WAN controller and management plane as well as edge device support.
Typically, the introduction of a second vendor involves a new set of control and management planes. Furthermore, SD-WAN solutions are not standardized, and adoption results in a vendor lock. The varied requirements from different Communication Service Providers (CSP) delivered by a single vendor will also exacerbate further lock-in. A single vendor with multiple offerings across multiple domains also introduces complexity.
Moreover, the lack of support of critical features such as security and WAN optimization by SD-WAN vendors force organizations to rely on individual components from the vendors introducing yet another layer of management complexity.
The end result is typically a delay in deploying new features and services due to single vendor dependency.
A Multi-Vendor strategy is a key to the success of any organization, and a solution that orchestrates across the vendor landscape will pave the way for a successful SD-WAN deployment.
SD-WAN is ideally suited for distributed networks that address the demands of digital transformation that is becoming adopted across organizations today. SD-WAN is also expected to provide the best blend of Internet broadband and MPLS topologies. MPLS services won’t disappear anytime soon, and SD-WAN vendors are expected to manage traffic between both but with limited end-to-end visibility. Thus, operators need more insight into their existing infrastructure along with any new SD-WAN deployment.
Most businesses understand the benefits of SD-WAN but need direction on deployment and integration into existing network infrastructure. Service providers and enterprises alike require a solution that integrates the deployment, management, and monitoring of this newly combined ecosystem.
Additionally, organizations have invested heavily in their service management tools. SD-WAN infrastructure is expected to leverage this management framework. But proprietary solutions from SD-WAN vendor would pose integration challenges. Furthermore, a single pane of glass to manage a combined ecosystem of legacy and SD-WAN infrastructure is possible only when the tooling infrastructure and SD-WAN systems make the required adjustments.
The interoperability issues of SD-WAN and existing infrastructure further add up to the delay in deployments.
An extensible solution that can span the breadth of new and legacy WAN infrastructure and eases operations and management will drive down the deployment complexity and meet the timelines.
The challenge of managing a multi-vendor, multi-platform as well as new and existing infrastructure is daunting and will drive cost proliferation and delay adoption. Subsequently, solutions that automate, orchestrate, monitor and provide assurance will rise to the top.
What’s needed to manage SD-WAN infrastructure?
A solution that enables all the above capabilities will function as an overall orchestrator for modern WAN infrastructure and simplify deployment, management and enable any organization to deliver optimized digital transformation outcomes.