Managed service options for SD-WAN

Posted on November 13, 2019

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Today’s workforce requires fast, secure access to email, enterprise applications, and the cloud, regardless of device or location. 

Increasingly, SD-WAN is becoming the ‘solution du jour’ for distributed enterprises as they adapt their networks to cater to a rapidly evolving workforce. 

The benefits of SD-WAN include robust and scalable network connections across the business and into branch offices, built-in traffic shaping for optimal network utilisation, and enhanced visibility and control into network and application traffic.  

There’s no doubt about it — when properly installed, SD-WAN is likely to improve network performance and staff productivity. It’s no surprise then that nearly half of Australian enterprises are planning on deploying SD-WAN in the near future.  

But what about the risks? As with any emerging technology there are questions about security, compatibility, management, functionality and, ultimately, long-term viability. As with any technology change, the challenge is embracing the benefits of SD-WAN whilst reducing the risks of deployment. With SD-WAN, it begins with choosing the appropriate management option.  

In-house vs. managed service deployment — what SD-WAN option is right for your business?

The two main options when adopting SD-WAN are managing it in-house or choosing a managed service provider.  

In-house deployment 

In-house SD-WAN concentrates all the effort on your IT team/contractors — and puts all the risk on your company. You’ll start by exploring the various models of SD-WAN infrastructure to identify the most appropriate vendor(s). Next, you’ll need to prepare a request for proposal detailing acquisition, installation, configuration, and training.  

Now comes the difficult part of selecting and buying the equipment, setting it up, training staff, testing and retesting (and likely testing again!), and monitoring performance.  

A proof-of-concept or pilot project helps reduce risks and, ideally, uncovers any issues before a company-wide rollout. However, depending on how long this process takes, there’s no guarantee that the technology won’t evolve during your project and necessitate a rethink. 

If you have a highly skilled IT team that will be with you for the life of the project, make informed decisions on architecture, have capacity for a flexible installation timeframe and a budget that can scale upwards, then in-house SD-WAN might be the most appropriate way forward.  

Managed service deployment 

If you want SD-WAN rolled out quickly and easily across all branch offices with guaranteed service level agreements (SLAs), no compatibility issues, reduced management overheads, regular updates to hardware and software, and no upfront capital expenditures commitment, then perhaps SD-WAN as a managed service might be more appropriate. 

Choosing a managed service option such as Vocus’ Managed SD-WAN reduces risk, ensures timely implementation, eliminates compatibility issues, carries iron-clad SLAs, and incorporates state-of-the art infrastructure and security that works as it’s meant to from day one.  

Upgrades and enhancements are included in a managed service. If or when the technology changes, new cyber security threats are detected, or any of the myriad changes that occur in the internet space, a managed service like Vocus will automatically update your security settings and ensure that your enterprise’s infrastructure is always current.  

With a managed service, your IT team can focus on the applications that drive your business forward instead of installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining SD-WAN units across your branches, freeing up their time and saving you money. Best of all, Vocus will provide end to end network troubleshooting capability, support and optimisation for Vocus network and devices. 

Even if your company has a ‘do-it-yourself’ policy and prefers in-house implementations, it might make sense to start with a managed service to prove the concept and hit the ground running. Then, down the road, you’ll be able to take on more of the risk, work, and capital expenditure yourself. Or you might find that a managed service is just too easy, cost effective, and secure to change. 

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