Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) can help you sell to more parts of your customer base.
We can no longer consider the technology a niche offering. Brandon Butler, IDC’s senior research analyst of network infrastructure, said SD-WAN is moving into full-scale enterprise adoption.
“SD-WAN technology has been one of the fastest growing segments of the network infrastructure market in recent years due to the significant advantages this technology enables including: centralized policy-based management of hybrid WAN connections and dynamic path selection of application traffic between enterprise data centers, clouds, and other branch offices,” Butler said.
IDC’s Brandon Butler
And this increasing demand is leading to demand for additional services related to SD-WAN. For example, IDC states that companies are deploying virtual network functions (VNFs) or cloud network functions (CNFs) alongside SD-WAN in a trend known as software-defined branch (SD-branch).
“SD-branch represents a more holistic view of all the network and security functions that are needed at enterprise remote and branch office sites. Based on IDC survey data, we forecast that the top VNFs/CNFs that will be used with SD-WAN in an SD-branch context will include: WAN optimization; a firewall/next-generation firewall or unified threat management system; WLAN controller; data loss prevention; and network management/monitoring to provide visibility and analytics,” Butler said.
MNJ Technologies’ Ben Niernberg
Ben Niernberg, senior vice president of MNJ Technologies, urged partners to start the customer conversation by determining their needs.
“Does the customer have bandwidth and/or reliability problems with applications that are deployed in the cloud? Is there a quality-of-service issue with their VoIP phone system?” he said. “Are they moving from on-premises applications to SaaS and need to ensure 24/7 data availability? The answers to questions like these will determine the best network connectivity strategy for enabling the business and improving the end user experience, including whether the customer needs a hybrid MPLS/SD-WAN deployment.”
Niernberg said partners should consider the types of data the customer will be transferring and prioritizing. Familiarizing oneself with the “lay of the data land” factor heavily impacts vendor selection, as SD-WAN solutions vary in their strengths and capabilities.
“Voice may be the No. 1 concern for a call-center customer or an organization with a large sales force. Layer 7 applications running in the cloud, SaaS applications driving the business, or email traversing the open internet with associated security concerns may be top priority for other companies,” Niernberg said.
Cisco’s Jason Gallo
Jason Gallo, global senior director of enterprise networking for the Cisco Global Partner Organization, said partners have used SD-WAN to kick-start managed service and life-cycle service revenue.
“More and more partners are standing up these business models to address customer managed SD-WAN demand, and also to differentiate themselves by adding on various monitoring, security or cloud integration services. In addition to managed services, with enhanced life-cycle service practices, partners are creating long term strategic relationships with their customers — from onboarding, to adopting, and ultimately renewing.”
We asked Gallo, Butler, Niernberg and MetTel’s Gary Gluzman about offerings that partners can sell alongside SD-WAN or after having deployed it. Scroll through the eight slides below to see how SD-WAN can create sticky customers and drive extra revenues for you.
This gallery is the final installment of a three-part SD-WAN series. Check out the previous edition, “8 Factors to Consider when Selling SD-WAN.”
Gallo said that although a large number of businesses operate SD-WAN on their own, that trend is shifting. He cited a Global Market Insights study, which projects SD-WAN managed services to grow at a 65% or more compound annual growth rate from now through 2025.
"One reason is that when customers buy SD-WAN as a managed service, additional services and network connectivity options are often available to reduce the complexities associated with in-house WAN deployments," Gallo said. "... Channel partners can extend an existing managed services practice to include SD-WAN with a fully integrated security stack or work with SD-WAN vendors to stand up a managed security practice on its own with a plan to add SD-WAN."
Niernberg said security is inseparable from any SD-WAN conversation. A key question is whether the edge should be secured through hardware or cloud.
"We begin the discussion on where security needs to reside and what needs to be secure and encrypted. This is a vital part to the overall performance and security of the SD-WAN solutions," he said.
Butler said selling a next-generation firewall is a wise option for partners, considering that such function is not native to certain SD-WAN platforms.
"This firewall capability allows for enterprises to establish zero-trust policies, white-list approved users, applications and traffic, and segment users based on identity and role. The combination of adding next-generation firewall capability in conjunction with SD-WAN provide a more holistic enterprise WAN solution," he said.
Gary Gluzman, MetTel
's executive director of product management, suggested cloud firewall as the "standard security blanket that guards the perimeter of the enterprise."
"Cloud firewall is a perfect complement to SD-WAN, as it is cloud-based and better equipped to protect a digital/cloud-based network such as SD-WAN," Gluzman said.
Fiber and coaxial cable are just a couple of the broadband options partners can attach to SD-WAN, according to Gluzman.
"Broadband is a natural pull-through product, as it is required to enable SD-WAN functionality," he said.
Gluzman said another option is 4G, which can be used as a backup. Cradlepoint
, for example, is a vendor that's well-known for providing 4G failover
Cloud Connectivity — SaaS
Butler said customers often want connections to SaaS platforms like Office 365 and Salesforce.com.
"As enterprises continue to rely on cloud-based services – both IaaS and SaaS – for mission-critical services, organizations want to ensure there are high-bandwidth, low-latency, optimized connections between their branch offices and the cloud. An important aspect of this is routing traffic directly to these cloud-based platforms instead of processing it back to a centralized data center before going to the cloud."
Cloud Connectivity — IaaS
Butler and Niernberg pointed to AWS and Microsoft Azure as popular IaaS platforms with which an increasing number of SD-WAN platforms offer direct connectivity. Niernberg said a key SD-WAN driver is the ability to use Layer 7 and SaaS applications that reside in the public clouds.
"We can use SD-WAN and a direct connect to cloud to improve the overall customer experience. Whether this be voice, video or application, our ability to combine SD-WAN and create diverse paths has a direct impact of end user experience," Niernberg said. "This is one of the main reasons a cloud company like Oracle bought Talari
: to improve cloud-based customer experience."
Gluzman said SD-WAN can provide the real-time quality of service (QoS) required by IP telephony.
"[SD-WAN] boosts application performance and prioritization for unified communication services with video calling and desktop sharing — a natural fit because without SD-WAN, voice and video will not be consistent and reliable," Gluzman said.
ShoreTel co-founder Ed Basart shared in an interview
how customer UCaaS quality feedback about led him to start InSpeed Networks.
Life Cycle Services
Gallo said life cycle services present an opportunity for partners to grow revenue and margin while guiding customers through the SD-WAN migration process.
"These value-added services span the life-cycle range from needs analysis/discovery, evaluation, and onboarding to adopting, expanding and renewing. Partners selling SD-WAN are adding readiness-assessment practices, providing proof of value, proofs of concept, design planning, security readiness assessments, performance testing and training to boost their value to their customers," Gallo said. "This life-cycle opportunity enables partners to move from a traditional resale model to a higher value, higher gross margin services offering by adding services such as automation, compliance, API/application services, security posture analytics, and business process engineering."