SD-WAN's popularity is growing as companies seek better mobility and connectivity.

March 14, 2019

5 Min Read

By Himanshu Verma


Himanshu Verma

As more and more businesses owners look to optimize their costs for business connectivity and continuity over wide-area networks (WANs), the demand for disruptive and cost-effective solutions, such as SD-WAN, are on the rise. The software-defined wide-area network market is already experiencing this surge, according to research from IDC that predicts the market will exceed $4.5 billion in 2022.

Additionally, as we move further into 2019, the cloud is no longer a differentiator for businesses — it’s a necessity. Predominantly small- to-medium-size businesses (SMBs) rely on cloud and SaaS applications for improved mobility, agility and productivity. This trend isn’t only limited to storage, infrastructure and business applications, but also stretches to network connectivity and communications, as more and more businesses are operating with connections between multiple locations. The remote workforce is also playing a key role. As a matter of fact, Strategy Analytics estimates that by 2023 the global mobile workforce will account for 43 percent of the total workforce.

As we see more applications migrate to the public cloud, hybrid WAN architectures are preferred over traditional hub-and-spoke approaches, as it minimizes issues related to application performance latency. Annual expenditures for internet service continue to grow year-over-year as performance and bandwidth requirements grow, and companies are looking for smarter ways to stay within budget without affecting network performance. Flexible work options based on integrated unified communications with bring your own device are also driving the need for solutions such as SD-WAN that can deliver transport efficiency and productivity at reasonable costs. Early adoption of SD-WAN has been fueled by low-cost connectivity, with increased performance, visibility and reliability. These also continue to be the primary motivators for the SMB and midmarket segments, which will further increase the adoption of SD-WAN in 2019 and beyond.

These evolving business-connectivity needs are creating massive opportunities not only for vendors providing differentiated SD-WAN solutions to carrier services, but also for the MSPs serving the SMB market. Managing network connectivity and security can be daunting for business owners, as it often requires specialized staff and skill sets. As cloud services make connectivity easier, they also increase the need for cybersecurity and introduce new complexities around data control and security. Being the trusted advisers for a customers’ infrastructure, IT and security needs, MSPs can further bolster their portfolio by converging the network infrastructure deployment, management and monitoring services along with an added layer of security. By leveraging disruptive technologies, providers can offer these capabilities from a single solution.

Just like data and applications where MSPs assume the life cycle management approach – starting from installation, all the way to management and maintenance that is layered with differentiated security services – SD-WAN combined with network security solutions enables MSPs to offer life cycle management of network packets and WAN communications. This starts with deployment, remote management and monitoring, layered with security services. It enables new recurring revenue opportunities for MSPs, allowing them to not only deliver effective and reliable connectivity services, but also differentiates those services with packaged security offerings — all bundled together as a simple solution for their customers. But profitability is key, which requires …

… selecting solutions that offer the combined differentiation without additional total cost of ownership and complexity (which is commonly associated with multiple vendors, appliances and touch points).

How-To for Differentiated Service

If you’re an MSP looking to take advantage of the convergence of SD-WAN and security, consider the following features and tools that will enable a differentiated service for customers:

  • Single point of procurement — Why manage multiple devices and appliances from multiple vendors when you can leverage a single appliance or device that offers LAN/WAN networking and routing features (such as support for multiple WAN links, dynamic traffic distribution and optimized route selection, site-to-site VPN setups, and traffic shaping, and more), combined with network security services? This enables the lowest total cost of ownership associated with deployment, management, technical training and program benefits.

  • Zero-touch deployments for both services — The ability to deploy the combined solution without technical expertise on-site can be invaluable to customers. This eliminates the cost and complexity associated with travel and remote deployments.

  • Centralized remote management and remote monitoring — It’s important to have a simple and intuitive interface that enables setup and management of networking functions. This can include link monitoring for jitter/loss/latency, application traffic management, and quality of service, in addition to functionality that enables MSPs to set up security policies and deliver remote reporting for usage and compliance. As a result, MSPs can deliver cost effective, differentiated services, while demonstrating success to their customers.

  • Layered and packaged security services — MSPs should look for consolidated offerings that include services from stateful firewalls with HTTPS inspection. This includes the ability to add fundamental security services such as URL web filtering, application control and gateway antivirus (which can be the key to preventing common threats). Furthermore, you want the ability to add advanced security services such as DNS filtering or built-in cloud sandboxing with threat endpoint or network intelligence (for detection and response against evasive and zero-day threats).

SMBs need simplicity with packaged services. MSPs have an amazing opportunity to give them that by leveraging solutions that consolidate use cases, as with SD-WAN and security. This strategy can greatly reduce costs and simplify management processes as MSPs scale to meet their customers’ packaged needs, while still maximizing profits.

As security threats and network complexity increases, what challenges are your customers facing?

Himanshu Verma is a director of product management at WatchGuard Technologies, with a primary focus on delivering WatchGuard products and solutions to the managed security service provider (MSSP) market. Prior to WatchGuard, he held product management roles for the enterprise authentication-as-a-service division of SafeNet (now Gemalto). During his time at SafeNet, Himanshu helped transition the enterprise authentication business from a traditional on-premises product to a successful SaaS solution. He has extensive experience in in-bound and out-bound product management, engineering and R&D for information security and data protection technologies. Follow @watchguard on Twitter or Verma on LinkedIn.

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