There is a rapid shift in enterprise plans for leveraging SD-WAN technology and solutions in 2017. We are seeing significant increases in the adoption and deployment of SD-WAN solutions for a number of reasons. The key drivers for enterprises include achieving greater agility to connect remote and branch office users to applications whether they reside in the data center or the cloud, while leveraging the favorable economics of broadband connectivity.
In turn, service providers are also experiencing unprecedented demand from enterprises for managed SD-WAN services as an alternative or to complement traditional managed WAN or MPLS service offerings. We will continue to see an increase in the number of service providers offering managed SD-WAN services through 2017 and into 2018.
For some enterprises, especially those that already rely on a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for managed WAN service, a managed SD-WAN service is an attractive option to reduce cost and complexity across their WAN.
For service providers evaluating different SD-WAN partner vendor solutions, one of the most important considerations is selecting an SD-WAN solution that is flexible and extensible and enables service differentiation or the ability to offer tiered managed SD-WAN services. With tiered services, service providers can monetize incremental services beyond a “base managed SD-WAN service” offering. First, let’s define Managed WAN services.
Traditional Tiered Managed WAN Services:
Tiered services are managed WAN services that provide enterprises with different sets of service attributes. MPLS VPN services have been traditionally tiered on specific attributes such as latency, jitter, network availability, redundancy and QoS. These services attributes have been in place for many years and have served the traditional branch-data center architecture well for applications hosted in a corporate data center. Tiered services in the traditional managed WAN service portfolio are based primarily on SLAs and defined network applications. The lowest tier managed WAN service may be a service with 99.9% availability. The highest tier may be a premium offering 99.999% with diverse redundancy.
Now, let’s define a tiered managed SD-WAN service and examine the monetization opportunities.
Tiered Managed SD-WAN Services:
Tiered managed SD-WAN services represent a new set of services that offer the service provider an opportunity to quickly create a menu of tiered, value-added WAN services, tailored with a different set of service attributes for a range of use cases and customer requirements.
Tiered managed SD-WAN services have to address the use of cloud-native applications (SaaS) and use of IaaS in a dynamic network environment where software flexibility, agility and time-to-market are critical. The Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnectSP SD-WAN solution enables service providers to deliver transport-agnostic SLAs for both data center hosted and cloud-native applications.
Tiered managed SD-WAN services incorporate the traditional attributes of latency, jitter, QoS and network availability. The primary difference is that these attributes can be combined into a specific overlay based on application policy that can be customized to meet an individual customer’s requirements. With the Silver Peak multi-tenant Unity OrchestratorSP, service providers can quickly implement overlay policies using Business Intent Overlays which can become a configuration template for a base managed SD-WAN service. Through centralized, automated orchestration, these templates can be automatically deployed to hundreds or thousands of branch locations.
The base managed SD-WAN service offering must include performance and SLA metrics that account for the customer’s entire application mix. Application-based SLAs provide another opportunity to differentiate the managed SD-WAN service, and this can be extended to cloud-hosted applications.
The following diagram illustrates a base managed SD-WAN service platform along with tiered value-added services that can include:
- Analytics and Visibility for deep network and application packet statistics
- WAN optimization-as-a-service for latency sensitive applications or sites
- SaaS performance optimization ensures better performance (SLAs) and connectivity to SaaS providers
- Service chaining applications with third party cloud or premise firewall services
The EdgeConnectSP SD-WAN solution is ideally-suited for supporting tiered managed services. It enables service providers to leverage advanced software automation to rapidly create and deploy varying tiers of new managed SD-WAN services based on application type, policy, performance requirements, security and end-user experience. The new First-packet iQ feature announced today, enables service providers to offer advanced application visibility and control services using deep analytics and statistics at the packet-level, as part of a tiered service. For example, a service provider may offer SaaS performance optimization as a value-added service for the entire suite of SaaS providers or may want to offer a service for a specific SaaS provider, such as salesforce.com or Microsoft Office365.
Integrating multiple WAN functions into a single solution is an additional benefit of tiered service offerings. For example, WAN optimization can be delivered as a value-added software service for some branch sites through the same EdgeConnect SD-WAN appliance. This functionality, at a branch office can be combined with a base managed SD-WAN service as a “bundle,” similar to the “fixed menu” or offered as a premium add-on option, “a la carte.”
A tiered managed SD-WAN service strategy enhances new revenue opportunities and service differentiation in a competitive managed services market, and Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnectSP is a complete SD-WAN solution that enables performance-based SLAs for both data center hosted and cloud-native applications.