**Editor’s Note: Register now for Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas.**
The process of implementing software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is more nuanced than the buzzword-filled news articles might lead you to believe.
Matthew Toth, president of C3, and Mike Sapien, global enterprise analyst for Ovum, will discuss how partners can customize an SD-WAN plan for their customers at the Channel Partners Evolution in Austin, Texas, Sept 25-28. Channel Partners spoke to Toth and Sapien about their concurrent education panel, “Real-Deal SD-WANS: Chaotic, Complex.”
Their answers have been edited for clarity.
Channel Partners: Could you share a major misconception that partners or their customers have about SD-WAN?
Mike Sapien: The first thing is that it replaces a network service when it really enhances and manages network services. Many are confused that it is a network service [when]it really is an overlay to network service(s) and does help in the monitoring, performance and reliability of network services. The need for network inventory and planning is another misconception as many customers and partners don’t realize the importance of knowing what the customer has in place and how they want the network to perform. Lastly, I think many customers and partners feel that network costs will go down substantially, but what really happens is that the network flexibility, reliability and performance are the key benefits and cost [savings] really is a secondary benefit and usually not that large in the end.
Matthew Toth: Misconception — SD-WAN is a huge cost savings. I don’t see it this way. SD-WAN implemented correctly may shift dollars around from expensive primary telco circuits to SD-WAN devices, security, or cheaper primary and secondary telco circuits. Some SD-WAN providers are touting huge cost savings in their case studies, and this is atypical. I personally fear working with IT directors that focus solely on driving cost out of IT because some vendor will always be able to claim further savings.
CP: Do you have an example of a partner that set up an effective SD-WAN for a customer?
MT: A global automotive tier 1 supplier replaced their large, expensive global MPLS network with internet and an Aryaka solution that provides better uptime and speed to their internally and externally hosted applications. Due to their global nature, having a solution with inherent WAN [optimization] that effectively helps deal with latency made sense. As more applications moved to the cloud, further investment in an internally focused MPLS didn’t make sense.
CP: What do you hope the audience will take away from your talk?
MS: The audience will get some real live information on customers who have deployed SD-WAN without a primary carrier, but have also leveraged some partners to deploy it effectively. The deployments are not as simple as most would think and that customers do have to assess and make some major decisions on design, network types and underlying providers. Most will also see why many customers decide to deploy on their own and what skills and resources are needed. Hopefully the audience will also see how much variance there can be in the customers’ deployment options that leads to use of some partners along the way. This will also include the role and support that can be provided by the SD-WAN vendors.
MT: Agents and MSPs need to aggressively attack legacy WANs that are internally focused and difficult to configure with easier-to-manage, more agile solutions that look more like Meraki and less like ISR routers (more GUI, less CLI). Start communicating to your customers that solutions from vendors that they’ve never heard of can eliminate WAN complexity. Focus on application performance above everything else. Find the applications that users are perpetually complaining about or application owners that desire higher performance for their specific app.