What is Driving Enterprise Interest in Managed SD-WAN Services?

In my previous blog post, I described the trends that are driving continued growth in the SD-WAN market, and the potential it presents to managed service providers. In this blog, I share insights on factors that are influencing enterprise choice of managed SD-WAN services.

Managed SD-WAN Services

Managed SD-WAN services are similar to a number of existing managed services offerings (managed LAN/WAN, managed router, managed firewall, managed VPN, to list a few) that network service providers (NSPs) offer in the market today. With managed SD-WAN services, the service provider installs and manages the edge CPE devices, procures and manages access links from multiple NSPs, and manages all day-to-day network management aspects of the solution.

Why Managed SD-WAN Services?

WAN management is a complex process and requires expertise on the enterprise side for network managers to run and operate a global WAN. While an SD-WAN can simplify hybrid WAN deployments, it involves deployment and management of various types of network services that have to support a variety of WAN applications—voice, video and data—distributed in different IT environments (on-prem data center, private cloud, public cloud, etc) across geographic locations.  The do-it-yourself (DIY) model can be daunting when it involves multiple transport and access providers from across the globe.  A managed SD-WAN service provider, be it your NSP or a managed service provider (MSP) can help with the following aspects:

  • Provide expertise and technology to integrate disparate operations and management systems across various access, transport, and network solution providers, presenting a unified view for enterprise network teams.
  • Provide complete SD-WAN management, freeing-up network/IT personnel time to focus on more strategic activities that are aligned with business goals
  • Provide businesses the option to evaluate and deploy an SD-WAN in phases. With some services, enterprises can pay a flat monthly subscription fee to install, monitor and maintain networking equipment (such as routers) at branch offices, instead of making a CAPEX investments.
  • Provide SLAs that guarantee application and network performance across the distributed WAN locations.

What do Enterprise Network/IT decision makers think?

In a recent Frost & Sullivan SD-WAN survey, we asked business network/IT decision makers to indicate the reasons that compelled or would compel them to choose managed SD-WAN services, as opposed to building and managing it in-house. Figure 1 shows the responses.

Fifty percent of the respondents chose “unified management of network services” as the key reason for adopting managed SD-WAN, and 48 percent chose “redeployment  of existing resources to focus on strategic projects” as the second most compelling reason. Interestingly, while the flexibility to procure and pay a monthly fee for managed SD-WAN services is appealing to businesses from a planning and budgeting standpoint, although it is not yet a compelling reason to purchase an SD-WAN.

Figure 1: Key Reasons Compelling Enterprises to Adopt SD-WAN

Figure 1: Key Reasons Compelling Enterprises to Adopt SD-WAN


While some enterprise verticals have been quick to embrace SD-WAN, Frost & Sullivan believes that widespread market adoption will be evolutionary in nature. The sunk investment in existing WAN infrastructure, the need to invest in new SD-WAN appliances, inconsistencies in vendor offerings, the complexity of self-managing large scale WAN deployments (as opposed to provider-managed MPLS WAN) are some of the reasons behind a more gradual transition toward complete SD-WAN deployments. Managed SD-WAN services can address some of these challenges and enable enterprises to adopt SD-WAN in a painless, progressive and seamless manner.

About the author
Roopa Honnachari
Roopa Honnachari
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Roopa leads the Business Communication Services practice at Frost & Sullivan. She is an authority in the wholesale and business network services space, with 14 years of experience spanning market research, growth consulting, and technical marketing in the communication services industry. She monitors market developments for the following topics: wholesale and retail network services (MPLS VPN, Ethernet, Waves, etc), managed network services, SD-WAN, SDN, NFV and cloud networking.