With the widespread adoption of cloud services, communication service providers (CSPs) are preparing to transform traditional networks for the future. In this changing landscape, CSPs are looking for ways to provide value-added, margin-rich services and support their customers’ evolving demands as the use of MPLS declines. Embracing a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) will help CSPs stay competitive and on the cutting edge of technology.
CSPs such as Telefonica and Orange are bringing new network-managed offerings to market that are delivered using SD-WAN technologies. With a software-defined WAN, CSPs can manage and automate the delivery of a hybrid WAN -- a mix of MPLS, Internet VPN, public Internet, and even LTE -- to keep up with cloud-based application and customer demands and provide higher reliability, increased available bandwidth, tighter security, and improved performance.
To determine if an SD-WAN managed service is right for your customer, ask these 5 key questions:
1. Are you adopting more cloud-based applications and services (SaaS, IaaS)?
By 2018, more than 60 percent of enterprises will have deployed direct internet access in the branch offices (up from less than 30 percent in 2016.)
Cloud-based applications and services are being adopted at increasing rates. Microsoft recently reported an Office 365 subscriber base of 120 million and growing, Salesforce.com reports more than 150,000 customers, and JIRA reports 89,000 customers globally.
Cloud-based applications and services drive significantly different traffic patterns than traditional client-server ERP and manufacturing systems. You want to avoid backhauling cloud traffic from the branch through the data center because that can result in poor application response times and network congestion. Configuring traditional routers to route traffic directly to the internet is a complicated, time-consuming, and often error-prone manual process that you also want to avoid.
With SD-WAN services, you can securely direct some portion of your traffic from the branch to go straight to the cloud via public internet links, translating into a better experience for users. For custom-built cloud applications, you can also set up one-click connectivity to cloud service providers such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. SD-WAN enables your enterprise to modernize and secure its network architecture to realize the full potential of cloud-based applications.
2. Are you running into bandwidth limitations that impact remote users?
48 percent of enterprises expect their bandwidth usage to double by the end of 2017
Providing sufficient bandwidth to branch and remote users can be a challenge. Enterprises have been challenged to quickly ramp up bandwidth to support business growth, which can be difficult to do with MPLS. And as enterprises have adopted more cloud-based applications and use of video has expanded, backhauling cloud traffic from the branch to the data center has consumed increasing amounts of MPLS bandwidth. Remote users frequently complain about slow performance of internet applications as network congestion increases.
With SD-WAN, you can flexibly manage traffic routing based on business policy. Path control can also be automated and provides the capability to path select based on application type, business priority, and path quality as determined by available bandwidth, latency, jitter, or packet loss. Lower priority traffic can be routed over less expensive internet broadband, which is better able to flex up and down to meet changing business requirements. WAN optimization, included in most SD-WAN offerings, can also lessen demands on bandwidth and improve the performance of business-critical applications.
3. Are you able to support new business requirements, such as digital transformation/customer experience?
The lack of agility caused by legacy networks is a primary problem solved by an SD-WAN.
The network powers your digital transformation, which you can control and manage easily with SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN provides operational efficiency, service orchestration, and policy-based automation to help you quickly deliver new services.
Unlike traditional WAN technologies, SD-WAN decouples the network and control plane and utilizes a software-defined approach, making it easier to adapt to the changing demands of application delivery and business requirements. SD-WAN includes integrated monitoring across the stack-- network, infrastructure, application, end user experience, and device –to improve the overall digital experience.
4. Are you able to secure direct internet access?
Maintaining security across public and private connections is the top challenge in network/WAN management at branch office locations.
Network managers place high importance on security. SD-WAN makes it easier to secure your network and limit attack surfaces so that a breach at one branch does not infect others.
Public and private connections can be secured through use of embedded firewalls and VPNs. In addition, network segmentation allows you to determine traffic paths for each application and type of data depending on business priority and security needs. When and if a breach does occur, the impact is limited to the specific network segment.
SimplePay, a payment processor deployed on AWS, was justifiably concerned about security. With SD-WAN, “We don’t have to worry about security or reliability; we now have a fully encrypted backbone,” according to Rob Gillan, CTO of SimplePay.
5. Are you deploying or expanding the number of remote offices and users?
The SD-WAN market is expected to reach $8 billion in 2021 as enterprise branch network requirements accelerate, according to IDC.
With SD-WAN, setting up new branch offices is simple and requires no travel or on-site configuration. You can provision your branch-office networks 50 to 80 percent faster, according to Gartner. Using centralized policy rules, SD-WAN appliances come online automatically, configure themselves, and are up-and-running in minutes. You can also automate cloud connectivity; transparently link your branch offices to your Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, or other public clouds; and deliver unified policy across regions and even multiple clouds.
Why Should CSPs Ask Their Customers About SD-WAN?
Simply put, network technologies are evolving to keep pace with digital transformation. Embracing a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) will help service providers stay competitive and deliver the key technologies that their customers are asking for. It will also provide service providers with opportunities for new revenue streams as MPLS growth slows.
Talk to your customers about new value-added services that support their changing network requirements and show them how SD-WAN can help them drive agility, security, and elasticity. With SD-WAN, your customers can better support digital transformation and delight their users.