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SD-WAN as a Service: The Rise of Managed SD-WAN

Author: John Burke, CIO & Principal Research Analyst

SD-WAN is rapidly reshaping the WAN landscape and the enterprise’s idea of what a WAN should be and can be. More than 40% of organizations participating in Nemertes Research’s WAN Economics and SD-WAN: 2018-19 Research Study have begun to deploy. One factor accelerating adoption is the rapid profusion of managed solutions. While 69.9% deploy a do-it-yourself (DIY) solution, acquiring and operating the SD-WAN gear themselves, already 30.1% use a managed SD-WAN service, most of which deliver some SD-WAN functionality via the providers own service cloud. This represents a huge jump in SD-WAN service adoption in a short time.

Driving this rapid rise in in-net adoption are the spreading availability of solutions from all major service providers, as well increasing preference for as-a-service-based consumption in general. More organizations are also aware of the “provider sprawl” issue—the cost and complexity that come with proliferation of last-mile connectivity providers in an SD-WAN. And, interest is increasing in integrating exchange-based cloud connectivity into the SD- WAN seamlessly. Add to these the operational, agility, scale, flexibility, and security benefits that can come with in-net SD-WAN and a “stack in the cloud” and the momentum of in-net offerings makes sense.

Everyone deploying SD-WAN expects to get improvements in WAN availability and stability: they are foundational promises of the technology. Unsurprisingly, the differences are stark when comparing the overall experience (including a great many organizations just beginning their transitions) with that of those nearing the end of deployment (having 90% or more of their sites converted to SD-WAN). Somewhat more surprising, though, is the dramatic difference between DIY and in-net experiences within the 90%+ group: In-Net services are providing a substantially better experience, resulting better than 90% reductions in overall downtime and in average outage duration.

IT professionals should:

  • Evaluate multiple SD-WAN options, both DIY and In-net
    • Do you want just to simplify WAN management while reaping the benefits of SD- WAN, or do you also want to outsource management and get the benefits of “stack in the cloud” technology?
    • Look to your existing WAN connectivity and WAN managed services providers as you evaluate in-net offerings—if they have done well for you so far
  • Evaluate your WAN geographic profile and determine how likely you are to have to deal with last-mile sprawl, and to have multiple connectivity options at each site
  • Determine your organizational taste for collapsing branch stacks into an SD-WAN solution in a provider cloud
    • Key stakeholders outside the networking group, such as security and risk management, should have input into the decision and selection.

Table of Contents:
  • Executive Summary
  • Year of SD-WAN Also Year Managed SD-WAN Arrives
  • In-Net SD-WAN
  • Drivers and Benefits of In-Net SD-WAN Services
    • Everyone Has a Solution
      • User Satisfaction with Current Offerings
    • Last Mile Sprawl: Lots More Internet…Lots More Providers?
    • Integrated Cloud Connectivity
    • Operational impacts: Higher Cost, Lower Downtime
    • Branch Stack in the Cloud
  • Loss of Control
  • Conclusion
  • Methodology
    • Participants by Title
    • Participants by Company Size
    • Participants by Technology Culture
    • Participants by Industry


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