Use Caution When Considering Managed SD-WAN Services
by July 20, 2017

Filed under: Networking Technology, Performance Monitoring

Whether you’re just starting to learn the basics or you’re researching more specific benefits, you can’t go far without seeing stories about SD-WAN technology. The market for SD-WAN solutions is set to explode and IT publishers are feeding the hype.

Sometimes, you might just want to sit back and ignore the hype. You have plenty of other innovative technologies to evaluate, and SD-WAN could be the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of research, budget and support needs. It’s another headache for IT teams.

Managed SD-WAN services seem like the perfect solution for the IT leader fed up with trying to learn the ins and outs of the many software-defined solutions available. But you have to be careful.

Before you dive into a relationship with a managed SD-WAN provider, consider whether you’d be better off keeping management in-house.

The Two Motivations for SD-WAN Adoption

There are many different factors that come into play when deciding to go software-defined in your WAN infrastructure. Even still, the debate between managed or in-house SD-WAN can be boiled down into two main motivations. Before accepting the perceived simplicity of managed SD-WAN services, consider where your motivation lies:

Cost Savings as Main Driver

You’re all in on the SD-WAN hype and you know that this technology gives you a chance to drastically cut WAN costs. For years, you’ve paid high bandwidth costs for MPLS and it’s proven reliable.

However, high-speed broadband is now commoditized, and SD-WAN solutions help you unlock the cost-savings implications of this trend. Low-cost bandwidth helps you ensure good end-user experience for cloud and SaaS applications.

When cost savings is the main motivation (as opposed to a more IT-focused driver), managed SD-WAN services are particularly attractive. You give up control over your IT infrastructure and you’re left to negotiate a favorable SLA, but at least you don’t have to deal with the headache of day-to-day SD-WAN management. And if your IT staff is so strained that SD-WAN management feels daunting, this is likely your best approach.

Application Traffic Control as Main Driver

Cost savings is a driver for every business—no one wants to pay for something that isn’t necessary. That doesn’t mean it’s always the main motivation for new tech adoption, though. For companies with a sophisticated IT staff, the technical benefits of SD-WAN solutions might be the top motivator.

As we’ve discussed in the past, an SD-WAN can give you granular control over packet prioritization and security. When this control is your greatest focus, you won’t want an SD-WAN provider to be in charge of the deployment and management.

Instead, you’ll have the right team in place to make agile changes when necessary and take advantage of SD-WAN benefits without relying on a service provider’s SLA.

If you’re evaluating managed SD-WAN services, this mini test should give you a good idea of whether or not they’re right for your business. In either case, you’ll still need to monitor the SD-WAN solution.

If you want to learn more about how you can keep an eye on your remote locations (even if you’re working with a managed service provider), download our free guide, Choosing the Right Technology for Remote Location Monitoring.