SD-WAN’s Key Channel Benefits and Misconceptions

James Anderson**Editor’s Note: Register now for the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, the gathering place for the technology services community, April 10-13, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.**

If you haven’t heard of SD-WAN by now, you haven’t been paying attention.

Ovum's Mike SapienA group of channel executives that work with software-defined wide area networking will discuss the technology, April 11, at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas.

Mike Sapien, vice president of U.S. research and principal analyst for Ovum, Randy Friedberg, vice president of sales and marketing for CNSG, BlueSky IT Partners CEO Meg Toups and VeloCloud co-founder Steve Woo will comprise the education track dubbed “3 Ways the Channel Benefits from SD-WAN.”

We asked some of the panelists to preview their session. The transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What’s one benefit SD-WAN brings to the channel?

Mike Sapien: SD-WAN allows channel partners to provide new integration services and broker network providers that increase revenue and stickiness with customers. SD-WAN requires that the channel partner manage customer expectations and network services as well as help the customer select the mix of different SD-WAN options and network providers underlying SD-WAN.

VeloCloud's Steve WooSteve Woo: A robust SD-WAN solution provides the channel a network architecture and platform for easily delivering additional networking services as well as managed services. Ease-of-service insertion now enables the distribution of security to multiple regional locations as well as leveraging cloud based solutions. Complementary network functions virtualization (NFV) support on SD-WAN devices also enables easy provisioning of additional services directly to the branch site. Services such as next-generation firewalls with threat protection or advanced voice quality monitoring can be deployed without requiring additional hardware nor on-site visits.

Centralized cloud-hosted orchestration for configuration, in-depth visibility and real-time troubleshooting provide efficient tools for supporting managed network offerings. Channels can add higher value-add and recurring revenue streams through managed services. Additional services now include the ability to easily bring multiple WAN circuits, whether sourced by the channel or allowed as bring-your-own-circuit (BYOC), under unified monitoring and dynamic multi-path management.

Meg Toups: The ability to be adding more value to the client, and thus gaining more revenue. SD-WAN is fairly new, and still being vetted out by many clients. If the agent can become an expert on this technology, what it means specifically to the client, then they will win more deals. Also, clients are tired of being held hostage by the carriers with an MPLS network. The agent can help their client get more control, have more tools to manage, and get more potential optimization through this technology.

BlueSky IT Partners' Meg ToupsCP: What’s a misconception people have about SD-WAN?

MS: Many customers may get the sense that SD-WAN is a totally new service. It is really similar to hybrid WAN services which have been around for years – which provide connectivity with a mix of network types and providers but now with software (software-defined) to provide more visibility, control and automation features to help customers get the application performance that they need at a reasonable cost.

SW: Enterprises and channel partners alike may presume SD-WAN reduces the need and opportunity for value added services from channel partners. While policy-based abstraction does reduce repetitive, low-level configuration tasks and misconfigurations, it refocuses efforts on optimizing network architectures. Both enterprises and their channel partners benefit from this shift to more value-added services and greater agility to achieve business objectives. Networks can be re-architected to accommodate the shift to cloud applications and data centers, as well as the more efficient distribution of services. An SD-WAN solution can provide multi-tier orchestration with enterprise accessible portals for direct configuration and monitoring as well as managed provider portals for outsourced remote monitoring and management.

MT: That it is less expensive. It definitely can be, but not always.

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