Managed SD-WAN Resource Central

6 common misconceptions about SD-WAN explained

Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is one of the hottest topics in enterprise IT, but uncertainty abounds as to what it is, what it isn’t and what value it can deliver large businesses. Part of that uncertainty comes from the large number of players in the SD-WAN ecosystem.

With more than 65 providers vying for a slice of the business, it’s not surprising SD-WAN is surrounded by confusion and misconceptions. To help you understand their options, we’re setting the record straight on five of the most common SD-WAN misconceptions—and why they’re misleading.

Misconception #1: All SD-WAN solutions are the same.

SD-WAN solutions are not created equal, which means you need to get down to nuts and bolts when looking for your solution. First, you’ll have to decide which deployment model to buy: Internet-based SD-WAN, which is managed by in-house IT teams, or Managed Service SD-WAN, which is installed, delivered, monitored and maintained by a service provider.

After you’ve selected your deployment model, you’ll discover there’s still major variance among SD-WAN vendors and solutions, which differ in cost, reliability, cloud access and application performance-boosting capabilities. Does the provider you are evaluating configure the solution to meet your business needs, or do they implement a one-size-fits-all approach? If opting for a Managed Service Provider, is there any flexibility in the model? Do you have to call the provider every time you want to make a change? It pays to examine the details.

Misconception #2: SD-WAN will fully replace existing network links like MPLS.

Choosing SD-WAN does not necessarily mean you’ll need to rip and replace your current MPLS, although SD-WAN provides a compelling alternative. The two technologies can and do coexist in hybrid WAN architectures. If you plan to phase out MPLS in favor of more cost-effective WAN underlay links like Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL), you can migrate in phases at your own pace without huge capital outlays or downtime.

Because SD-WAN is transport-agnostic, you can integrate SD-WAN with your legacy technology according to your organization’s budget and business requirements.

Misconception #3: SD-WAN is the same as WAN optimization.

SD-WAN and WAN optimization do share similar goals—specifically, accelerating application delivery between branch offices and datacenters—but SD-WAN goes a little further. WAN optimization focuses on improving packet delivery, while SD-WAN is designed to efficiently prioritize network traffic through lower-cost network links.

In other words, WAN optimization helps you use your bandwidth wisely, while SD-WAN is a broader solution for deploying and managing your network using all of your bandwidth in an active/active configuration. You can use WAN optimization and SD-WAN together, as they complement each other to deliver enhanced network performance.

Misconception #4: SD-WAN is way too expensive.

In many scenarios, SD-WAN can help you realize cost savings right away. From the get-go, you will likely see reduced capital costs, since SD-WAN does not require purchasing expensive hardware like routers and switches. In addition, you may see operational cost savings associated with a reduced number of resources required to perform network management functions.

On day one you will see more efficient use of the bandwidth you are paying for, given the active/active configuration, productivity maximization and return on investment. The financial benefits are even greater when you pair SD-WAN with a lower-cost transport, such as Ethernet Virtual Private Lines (EVPL), which is more cost-effective than MPLS.

Misconception #5: SD-WAN is not secure.

As your network grows more complex and distributed, it will become more difficult to manage and monitor, leaving it more vulnerable to security threats—especially if your traffic is routed across the public internet, as in some SD-WAN deployments.

That’s why you might consider partnering with a managed SD-WAN provider who can deploy and monitor your network with complete control and granular visibility.

Misconception #6: Any company can roll out SD-WAN services on its own.

SD-WAN deployment and management are complex. While a DIY approach is doable, it means additional training and responsibilities for your IT staff.

To realize value from SD-WAN on day one, you’re probably better off teaming up with a managed SD-WAN provider who can design an overall network strategy that meets your specific business requirements. Be leery of a provider who takes a one-size-fits-all approach. Work with a provider who has the network management experience to design and quickly provision SD-WAN while helping you work through technical issues without disrupting your existing operations. In summary, putting your WAN management in the hands of a trusted partner means your IT staff can work smarter, not harder.

Call to speak with a Frontier expert about Managed SD-WAN Solutions.

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