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

Conclusion

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.