8 Factors to Consider When Selling SD-WAN


SD-WAN’s popularity is raising the stakes for channel partners.

The business world is coming around to the benefits of this hot technology. Damon Ennis, Silver Peak senior vice president of products, said businesses are seeing the value of moving away from rigid “router-centric” WAN architectures.

Silver Peak's Damon Ennis

Silver Peak’s Damon Ennis

“SD-WAN eliminates the need for legacy routers, firewalls and costly MPLS networks and simplifies the WAN edge by unifying SD-WAN, firewall, segmentation, routing, WAN optimization and application visibility and control in a single platform,” Ennis said. “Centralized SD-WAN management delivers the ultimate quality of experience for network managers by providing complete observability and control of the entire WAN from a single pane of glass.”

SD-WAN entering the mainstream should be an invitation for partners to step up their games.

Did your firm start selling SD-WAN before the rest of your competitors? Congratulations, but now’s not the time to rest on your laurels. According to Heavy Reading, 61% of partners sold SD-WAN in 2018. Everyone’s knocking on the customer’s door today to pitch the technology. And the buyers know more than they did in previous years.

Ginsburg, David_Aryaka

Aryaka’s David Ginsburg

“Enterprises now understand that SD-WAN isn’t just a simple router replacement. It consists of multiple capabilities, and if deployed by IT, it requires additional expertise,” said David Ginsburg, Aryaka’s vice president of product and solutions marketing. “This understanding will help drive the managed services market, but IT managers will look closely at their desired business outcomes versus just looking at the raw technology. SD-WAN MSPs and their partners who can effectively communicate this will succeed.”

We’ve outlined eight considerations to help you meet your customers’ goals and challenges with SD-WAN. Scroll through the gallery below to learn about how security, automation, vendor-agnosticism and other priorities should factor into how you position SD-WAN services.

You should also check out part one in our series, “8 Big SD-WAN Trends and Predictions.”

Women in the Channel

Ennis said customers need "secure and uninterrupted access" to their business critical apps. SD-WAN can provide end-to-end application segmentation that reduces the attack surface as companies move more of their workloads to the cloud.

"As applications continue to migrate to the cloud, changing traffic patterns drive the need for a new WAN approach and security model rearchitected for cloud-hosted applications," Ennis said. "Protecting branch from threats requires the need for more advanced security services."
Women in the Channel
A Single Provider

Jonathan Hartman, who serves as senior vice president of sales for the Arizona-based master agent PlanetOne Communications, pointed to the value of a single carrier bringing the customer "access, hardware, management and monitoring." Having one party take responsibility for the network architecture and SD-WAN's "vast configuration options" makes life easier for the client, Hartman said.

“SD-WAN provides vast configuration options when it comes to network architecture," he said. "Bundling the different components that make up an SD-WAN environment from a single managed SD-WAN service provider has a strong value proposition, especially for those customers with constrained internal IT resources."
Women in the Channel

Ennis said businesses are struggling as they onboard new offices and cloud-based applications. Configuring and troubleshooting the network simply takes too much valued time and resources away from the customer, he said.

"SD-WAN expedites onboarding of new sites, cloud-hosted security services and applications with true zero-touch provisioning and automated service chaining. Apps/policies are consistently auto-deployed to thousands of remote locations in accordance with business intent. SD-WAN enables a fully self-healing network that employs machine learning, AI, monitoring and analytics to detect changing conditions and trigger immediate adjustments, even under extreme network conditions," Ennis said.
Women in the Channel
Managed Services

Gartner's recent WAN Edge report notes that while the North American SD-WAN market leans 60% in favor of do-it-yourself solutions, that number is trending downward as the rest of the globe moved toward managed services. David Ginsburg, Aryaka's vice president, product and solutions marketing, said this trend gives partners opportunities to upsell new services and play a bigger role serving their customers.

"Paralleling enterprise moves to managed services to reduce complexity and increase flexibility, partners will follow this trend by working with SD-WAN managed service providers that offer a platform approach to connectivity, multicloud access, application optimization, security, visibility, orchestration and monitoring," Ginsburg said. "This approach enables the partner to play a key role in enterprise digital transformation initiatives, which includes adoption of the cloud consumption model."
Women in the Channel

Will SD-WAN play nice with the customer's other technological investments? Ennis said enterprises are looking for a platform integrates easily with the rest of the stack, whether that be security, cloud infrastructure or network management.

"SD-WAN allows enterprises to leverage existing investments, enabling automated service chaining with one-click integration to best-in-class ecosystem partner technologies, including security, cloud and service providers. This superior combined solution can dynamically change to meet changing requirements in any digital transformation strategy," he said.

CloudGenix CEO Kumar Ramachandran echoed the importance of enabling a best-of-breed approach in a recent interview with Channel Partners.
Women in the Channel

In a 2019 Cato Networks study. Customers complained about the inability of telcos to deliver an agile network. The network must accommodate a growing number of remote workers and cloud services, and it must do so quickly. Seventy-three percent of respondents said their telco took 15 or more days to deploy WAN services at a new location.

“As businesses become more agile, the network needs to become more agile," said Dave Greenfield, Cato's secure networking evangelist.
Women in the Channel
Going Global

Does your customer operate offices on multiple continents? Companies that are looking to expand their international footprints will want a provider that can scale with them.

Teridion, for example, sees a huge opportunity for its channel partners to serve customers that have a location in China. The vendor announced in October that its SD-WAN and SaaS acceleration services are cleared to work again in China after the country's VPN crackdown.

“There are so many enterprises with a China presence," said Kevin Moynahan, Teridion's director of channel sales.
Women in the Channel

Ennis said switching away from MPLS to SD-WAN can increase the customer's bandwidth while at the same time increase resilience and flexibility.

"MPLS services are complex, rigid, expensive and have long lead times to provision from providers," Ennis said. "The inability to adapt the network to modern applications is forcing companies to sacrifice, by either increasing costs to overprovisioning capacity or by constraining performance due to limited bandwidth."

Customers' feelings about MPLS tend to vary based on their size. An Avant Communications study found that 53% of businesses that earn more than $1 billion yearly plan to buy MPLS, but Comcast Business executives tell us that the midmarket is very much interested in ripping and replacing its MPLS.

“We’re seeing patterns emerge, and I think enterprise will get there. They’re obviously a little more cautious than a midmarket customer might be," said Jody Hagemann, Comcast Business' senior director of SD-WAN product management.

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