How SD-WAN Presents a Huge Opportunity for MSSPs
SD-WAN continues to grow, driven by digital transformation and the need to provide new web applications and cloud services to remote business locations. While WAN connectivity has been around for decades, interest in software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is growing because traditional WANs weren’t built for the cloud or today’s digital business. Instead, branch offices, school campuses and remote retail locations tend to be connected to a central data center hub using static multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) routing or an Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) network protocol suite connection.
Extending the value of digital transformation to remote offices represents the biggest motivation for organizations (large and small) to upgrade their WAN infrastructure to SD-WAN. If nothing else, it enables them to compete more effectively in today’s digital marketplace. As a result, according to IDC, SD-WAN transformation is growing to become a $4.5 billion dollar market opportunity between now and 2021.
The Opportunity for MSSPs
This disruption presents a massive opportunity for MSSPs. Almost overnight, the entire WAN market is being transformed into a greenfield opportunity. Even better, SD-WAN provides a unique opportunity for MSSPs to provide managed WAN services both on and off their network. That’s because much of the key value of any SD-WAN solution lies in the services attached to it – making it an enabler and facilitator for additional value-added services.
The main drivers for SD-WAN services are agility and efficient WAN resource utilization, increased application reliability and the improved user experience it should deliver. Cost reduction, while valuable in some markets, is generally a secondary consideration. Depending on its configuration, the services it needs to support, and the market in which it is being implemented, SD-WAN isn’t necessarily more cost-attractive than an MPLS service. In fact, in many cases, MPLS circuits will continue to form some portion of the SD-WAN underlay used by enterprises. SD-WAN is an evolution of the wide area network that matches organizations’ digital transformation and includes increasing reliance on cloud-hosted resources and real-time applications.
The challenge from an MSSP perspective is in selecting the SD-WAN solution they want to wrap their services around. The reality is, most SD-WAN solutions provide similar connectivity capabilities. But delivering connectivity-only SD-WAN services isn’t sustainable in the long term. Using SD-WAN to leverage broadband internet for delivering business services may seem like low-hanging fruit, but doing so without also being able to provide comprehensive visibility and security significantly increases risk and exposure to the enterprise. As a result, MSSPs should differentiate their SD-WAN services on capabilities beyond basic SD-WAN, such as security. In short, SD-WAN shouldn’t be the objective. SD-WAN should be the means to deliver an entire value-added services engine that increases revenue per user along with sustained customer loyalty.
Approaching SD-WAN as a Value-Added Services Platform
Building and delivering an SD-WAN solution for your customers is simply the first step is creating a connectivity platform that enables the delivery of new services. Adding services such as advanced security, networking and application management can not only provide a significant revenue stream, but also serve as a real competitive advantage in a landscape dominated by too many SD-WAN offerings.
As a result, MSSPs need to carefully select an SD-WAN solution by considering its ability to deliver additional integrated and automated high-value services. As a result, the ability to provide, in addition to typical SD-WAN connectivity, such additional services as …