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SD-WAN Part II: Skills and Deployment

In the second of three articles on SD-WAN, Technology Reseller lists some of the questions a reseller should ask clients and highlights what to look for from an SD-WAN supplier

As channels are aware, organisations today are better informed and more active in discovering how modern technologies can help them achieve their objectives. Rightly so, as new technologies present powerful opportunities for organisations of all sizes. However, they also introduce challenges, both for the user and the reseller.

The introduction of a new wide area networking model in the form of an SDWAN is a case in point, and resellers will need to establish if they themselves have the skill sets needed to plan, manage and implement such a project and whether the organisations they are selling to have the skill sets to ensure an effective implementation and ongoing management of that network in-house or whether they should choose a managed services provider to handle the project.

The benefits of having a managed service are well known. Most in-house IT departments are stretched pretty thin and outsourcing back-end functions or complex, rapidly changing technologies allows in-house resources to be dedicated to projects that will further a company’s core objectives and promote innovation.

For the reseller, there are opportunities to partner with established MSPs that have the necessary skills, and in such instances there are certain questions they should consider asking, such as:

*Do you understand the skill sets required to implement and manage an SD-WAN?

*Would you be able to manage this for overseas branches and operations?

*What concerns you most about the prospect of user in-house management of an SD-WAN?

*What do you see as the main benefits of having a managed service solution?

Multiple options
An SD-WAN is no commodity-based solution and from the outset there will be many options to consider and choose from. For resellers, the most important of these is the choice of a partner able to supply a complete solution.

Given that an SD-WAN is an overlay set of services running on top of a connectivity-based underlay network between sites, branches and offices located across the UK and beyond, and given that the overlay and underlay have critical performance dependencies, why would resellers not consider working with a supplier that can deliver both?

Such a solution would eliminate half the supplier risk and remove any risk of a ‘blame game’ when multiple vendors can’t agree who bears responsibility for service problems that might occur.

Questions a reseller should consider when choosing a complete SD-WAN supplier include:

*Can they provide all elements? The overlay, underlying connectivity and a full managed service?

*Can the supplier protect against attacks from the internal network and the internet, according to a corporate security policy?

*Do they offer Network Security Monitoring to detect and analyse anomalies and attacks within the user network?

*Can the supplier ensure secure communication between user sites by having all WAN traffic routed efficiently, encrypted and authenticated?

*Do they have a Mobile Entry Point so that there is the same comfort and security for mobile and home working as in the office?

*With more and more business applications moving to the cloud, can the supplier provide Application Performance Management to monitor the user network, prioritise business-critical applications and dynamically achieve a high quality of service?

Enterprise Demand
For reseller channels, the SD-WAN market is growing rapidly. Global SD-WAN managed services are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76% to $5.7 billion by 2023. According to Gartner, only 6% of organisations have no plans to deploy SD-WAN at all.

Right now, many CTOs are asking if they should they choose SD-WAN over MPLS technology. The short answer given by many observers is that SD-WAN offers better visibility, availability, performance and more freedom of action.

Another reason for growing interest in SD-WAN, cited by cybersecurity vendor Fortinet, is flexibility. MPLS connections tend to be rigid, fixed connections that can’t easily adapt to the sort of interconnectivity between branch offices that today’s dynamic networks require. They also don’t provide support for things like application recognition or sophisticated bandwidth management for latency-sensitive applications.

Resellers can attract and retain customers by meeting this demand but there are a lot of issues to consider before jumping in.

In the next article in this series, we explore
some of the myths surrounding SD-WANs.

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2020