Post SD-WAN: Expectations and Management

You’ve Adopted SD-WAN. Now What?

No doubt you chose to integrate with or fully switch your network to an SD-WAN solution because you wanted, and needed, to start seeing results quickly.

The great thing about a software-defined WAN is that it is extremely simple to implement. Essentially, you’re only a few plugins and reboots away from seeing immediate differences in your network visibility, control and security.

But, what can you expect in the long run with your new infrastructure? Will the management of your network differ greatly from what you have been used to for the last decade or so?

These are questions that we hear a lot from our customers, especially those that have known only MPLS since the inception of their company, and they’re valid questions.

So, let’s see if we can’t help you answer them.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…Results.

Many of the IT managers that we work with at CTC Technologies have the same main concern: cost. They are tired of pushing up against the limits of MPLS while shelling out thousands of dollars a month to do so.

Because of this, they are usually reaching out to learn more about the savings associated with broadband Internet. And while it is accurate to say that you can expect to save money with an SD-WAN solution, there are a few factors that can determine just how much of the green stuff will be staying in your wallet:

1. A straight-up comparison between MPLS and SD-WAN will go in favor of the latter every time.

  • When comparing the costs of MPLS versus SD-WAN, each providing equal bandwidth, the software-defined solution provides the same amount for a much cheaper price tag.
  • For example, we had a customer see savings of $53,449 a year after adopting a Silver Peak SD-WAN solution. You can check out the case study here to learn more.
  • Some SD-WAN vendors promise that they can provide savings up to 90 percent, but understand that just like every network is different, so, too, is every company’s results with SD-WAN.

2. It depends on how much bandwidth you are wanting to use.

  • As a company in the SD-WAN sales world, we would assume that our customers’ main priority is to save money, but surprisingly, this is not always the case.
  • Just as often, IT managers are looking to get much more bandwidth for the same amount of money they are spending with MPLS. Instead of spending less, they are interested in increasing the “bang for their buck” while increasing ROI.
  • Although this option doesn’t reflect a decrease in expenditures, it does show that SD-WAN can give you more for less…or much more for the same.

3. It depends on how much you are wanting to integrate SD-WAN with your current MPLS-based WAN.

  • Not every company is looking to switch entirely to SD-WAN. Some, instead, choose to integrate a solution with their MPLS, directing certain traffic through each route and creating a Hybrid WAN solution.
  • This is actually ideal for many business’ needs, but it does mean that there will still be some costs associated with the MPLS cable that would not be seen if one fully relied on SD-WAN. However, there would still be a decrease in OPEX and CAPEX in proportion to how much the SD-WAN is supplementing the legacy infrastructure.

4. It depends on when your contract is up with your MPLS provider.

  • We have a lot of customers seeking an SD-WAN solution, but they cannot adopt one immediately because they are still tied by contract with their MPLS service provider.
  • Because this is a common occurrence, we often see that companies have to slowly move over to SD-WAN instead of making one big switch. This means there can be some time until a company can see the full savings potential of SD-WAN.

Aside from cost expectations that can be hard to nail down, there are many other beneficial expectations that an SD-WAN solution is guaranteed to meet:

  1. Increased network visibility
  2. Increased in-house control of entire network
  3. Increased communication between branches and data centers
  4. Decreased latency, packet loss and jitter
  5. Optimized traffic routing through pipes
  6. Increased architecture flexibility
  7. Increased security in-house and in the cloud
  8. Increased control over QoS (keeping the provider honest)
  9. Centralized provisioning
  10. Increased network and application performance

It’s okay to expect a lot from your SD-WAN solution, but what can you expect about the management of your new infrastructure?

How is Management of an SD-WAN Different From MPLS?

More good news on the way: You should actually find the management of an SD-WAN much easier and more compact than that of your old MPLS.

Whereas MPLS-based WAN is comprised of multiple pieces of hardware stacked in your data center’s office, connected by cables, SD-WAN is a software that allows you to create a virtual overlay on top of your existing network.

Because of this, SD-WAN provides you the ability to have a central provisioning center from which you can control and communicate with all of your dispersed branches and data centers simultaneously.

Gone are the days of only being able to directly communicate between one data center and one branch at a time. Au Revoir, traditional WAN! Now, your branches can even communicate with each other.

Did you ever feel like you were repeatedly butting your head up against the ceiling of your MPLS’ limited bandwidth? An SD-WAN solution allows your feet to stay on the ground because it operates independent of WAN links, allowing for increased network and application performance.

Archiving the old hub-and-spoke design, SD-WAN also allows direct access to cloud, as well as enterprise, applications, and makes it simple to have an SLA with your service provider to ensure that all parties are holding up their end of the contract and that your network is optimized from edge to edge.

Once your SD-WAN solution is in place, it may be a good time to think about taking that overdue vacation. Don’t worry, everything will be under control!

In Conclusion

When adopting an SD-WAN solution, there is no certain set of expectations that one is guaranteed to meet. Every company has a unique architecture, unique goals and unique priorities. Because of this, each and every legacy infrastructure is different. Therefore, the results of a solution can never be the same across the board.

However, there is enough evidence to safely say that SD-WAN can greatly reduce OPEX and CAPEX while increasing your network control, visibility, flexibility, security and performance. How much so depends on things like your current network architecture and your business priorities.

We encourage you to plan ahead now for any future changes that you may experience with your new SD-WAN solution, whether that be company growth, a move to cloud applications or simply adjusting to the management of a simplified network.

One helpful tip: Nervous that a switch of some of your network controls to a third-party provider will deplete the amount of work your in-house IT staff has to do? Have your IT professionals focus on other important company aspects that were on the back burner when all of their time was taken up with network management.

What are some ways that your company has adjusted to SD-WAN? Have there been hurdles in getting used to the new network?

If you are just starting to think about an SD-WAN solution for your company, feel free to get in touch with us.

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