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SD-WAN Roundup: Mushroom Networks, Eclipse Telecom and the ‘Flavors’ of SD-WAN

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**Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles on the state of SD-WAN, featuring perspectives from vendors, analysts and partners. Check out our previous SD-WAN roundup featuring Ecessa.**

The biggest misconception about software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is its cost, says Kirk Amstrong.

Eclipse Telecom’s Kirk Armstrong

Eclipse Telecom’s Kirk Armstrong

“The big misconception with SD-WAN is that you’re going to save money. Everyone’s like, ‘You’re going to save lots of money.’ Money’s just going to be spent differently. You can spend the same amount of money or even spend more money,” Armstrong tells Channel Partners.

That of course is just one of numerous misconceptions, he says.

Armstrong, network design specialist for Eclipse Telecom, helped the consultancy roll out its first SD-WAN solution two years ago. He recently joined the lineup for our SD-WAN panel at the upcoming Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

He shared his observations and recommendations for customers and the businesses that build their networks.

For one, companies shouldn’t adopt the new technology primarily out of a desire to cut costs. Rather, it’s about “the re-architecture of the network to be cloud-enabled,” according to Armstrong. More and more applications have joined unified communications in moving off premises. IT departments need an architecture that handles those workloads quickly but also with the security aspect in mind.

“You’re not sitting in the same data center that you were for 30 years. Things are moving to the cloud. You need to be able to get to your traditional assets still in your data center, your colo or your private cloud,” he said. “You need to be able to get out to the Amazons and Azures of the world and all your SaaS applications.”

It’s impossible to discuss re-architecture without getting into the topic of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), the transport mechanism that divides SD-WAN vendors and analysts.

Our previous two columns traded barbs about the relationship between SD-WAN and MPLS. Matthew Toth of C3 and Shlomo Kramer of Cato Networks argued for replacement, while Ecessa’s Mike Siegler argued for a hybrid approach.

Armstrong encounters clients who assume that SD-WAN equals MPLS replacement, but he tells them otherwise.

“It’s such an annoying buzz term, because everyone says SD-WAN pulls out your MPLS. Well, SD-WAN actually can include MPLS. It can have VPLS. It can be internet-internet; it could be internet-broadband,” he said.

SDxCentral has an interesting snippet from Verizon’s Shawn Hakl, who claims that SD-WAN has increased the company’s MPLS revenue. According to Hakl, many enterprises are deploying both.

“They keep the MPLS for certain applications that may need a high level of security and stability,” Sue Market paraphrased Hakl as saying, “So instead of eliminating the MPLS line, these customers are …

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