To SD-WAN or Not to SD-WAN? – The Answer is in Your ROI

This is the part-one of a two-part blog series that will explore the return on investment that can be achieved by deploying a business-driven SD-WAN. In this installment, I will discuss how enterprise IT organizations can make the business case for moving from a traditional router-centric WAN architecture to a business-first networking model with SD-WAN.

According to a survey conducted by Frost and Sullivan in 2018[1], 72 percent of respondents considered SD-WAN as a priority for their organization. Only a small percentage, six percent, indicated that they have no intention to deploy SD-WAN in the near term.

When considering implementing a new technology, such as SD-WAN, SDN and VNF, cost is often a key factor. SD-WAN usually delivers cost savings via replacing MPLS with internet connectivity but saving money on WAN transport costs is no longer the primary driver for deploying an SD-WAN. According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) recent SD-WAN report[2], cost reduction was the least popular response from enterprises when asked about their top business drivers for deploying an SD-WAN. The report revealed that enterprises are adopting SD-WAN to support a cloud-first business, improve network security and agility and close IT skill gaps.

So, what is frequently the primary reason that inhibits enterprises from deploying SD-WAN technologies? Often, enterprises may not see a compelling business case for SD-WAN implementations.

Quantifying Your SD-WAN Return of Investment

Building a return-on-investment (ROI) calculation can be time consuming. That’s why Silver Peak partnered with ACG Research to develop an intuitive ROI tool to compare current WAN costs to a business-first networking model based on the Unity EdgeConnect™ unified SD-WAN edge platform. You can calculate your ROI with SD-WAN and make the business case for moving away from a traditional router-centric architecture to a business-first networking model with SD-WAN. The total cost savings and ROI figures are derived by combining the total savings from the four main WAN edge cost factor areas – operations, firewall, WAN optimization and transport – and comparing them to the total cost of ownership for the Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform.

Capitalize on a Successful CAPEX and OPEX Saving Strategy

A business-driven SD-WAN such as the one provided by EdgeConnect offers four distinct benefits that deliver demonstrable ROI for enterprises relative to traditional router-centric and appliance-per-service deployment models:

  1. Router OPEX savings with operational efficiencies – OPEX typically represents a large part of IT budgets due to the expense of hiring, training and paying IT professionals. With the EdgeConnect unified SD-WAN edge platform, not only is the WAN edge hardware footprint consolidated and simplified, but management is centralized to provide complete observability of your entire WAN. This reduces the need for highly skilled network professionals and eliminates error prone device-by-device manual configuration. An added benefit is more consistent QoS and security policy configuration and enforcement across the entire enterprise.
  2. Firewall savings with unified zone-based stateful firewall – Conventional device-centric WAN architectures are rigid and complex to manage and require separate routers, firewalls and WAN opt appliances. An SD-WAN based on EdgeConnect unifies a zone-based stateful firewall as well as automated service chaining to next-generation firewalls and cloud-hosted security services – when more rigorous traffic inspection is required – that enables enterprises to avoid incremental spend on additional firewall capacity or management. This reduces CAPEX and OPEX spend while securing the network.
  3. WAN optimization savings with unified WAN optimization – A business-first SD-WAN model with unified WAN optimization like Silver Peak EdgeConnect,  can cut costs by 50 percent when compared to traditional deployments, as enterprises are able to centrally manage and pay only for the exact amount of optimization required on an application-by-application basis.
  4. Transport savings with an intelligent traffic steering and path conditioning – When we compare the costs of MPLS and internet circuits, the latter presents attractive savings, as internet circuits are typically less expensive and have the additional advantage of wide availability and rapid provisioning times.

Making the Business Case for SD-WAN Investments

While it’s true that SD-WAN technology can drive WAN costs down and deliver a 5x return on investment or more over its lifetime, often with a payback period of less than 12-months as it has for many of our EdgeConnect customers, these are not the only business benefits the platform provides. The recognized improved network operations also deliver cloud enablement, higher productivity and agility, reduced risk and improved customer satisfaction benefits. Organizations should consider these advantages when building the business case for the making SD-WAN investments. So, if the question is “To SD-WAN or NOT to SD-WAN? – You can find the answer with Silver Peak SD-WAN Interactive ROI Calculator to make SD-WAN a sound strategic investment. Stay tuned for part two of this 2-blog series where I will reveal a way to provide enterprises with a compelling justification for a business-driven SD-WAN.

Do you want to take the next step in your SD-WAN journey and become the SD-WAN expert on your team? Silver Peak is hitting the road with a series of COMPLIMENTARY half-day workshops, featuring a hands-on guided lab experience and deep dive into the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect™ SD-WAN edge platform. Register here to save your seat!


[1] How SD-WAN is impacting global enterprise WAN strategies

[2] Wide-Area Network Transformation: How Enterprises Succeed with Software-Defined WAN