At the end of one of the hottest summers on record, global network managers are looking rather frazzled, even sunburnt, when the subject of SD-WAN deployment challenges comes up.
Did they forget the sun lotion? Had the air-con conked out? Or did the network team swallow the marketers’ claims that SD-WAN implementation was really quite simple and got badly burned afterwards?
Yes, enterprise IT professionals are facing an issue as tricky as our unpredictable weather.
How do they deliver ambitious digital transformation outcomes based on new SD-WAN deployments, without drowning in network and application performance data, or putting intolerable strain on their existing CAPEX or OPEX budgets?
It’s a plain fact that in-house IT teams are turning away or seeking refuge from overly-sunny vendor promises, before making their final SD-WAN deployment decision.
That’s because network managers need a lot more clarity on what SD-WAN solutions entail on the ground. Yes, in-house IT teams want a better business model for ensuring the performance of their enterprise’s critical applications, but they also want a more reliable way to manage all the data and the decision-making that SD-WAN deployments inevitably demand.
To make SD-WAN a success, network managers need to identify and access other levels of expertise for their global infrastructure operations; they need smart collaboration with their cloud and security counterparts and need to act on the connectivity insights that SD-WAN brings to ensure they’re getting the best from their service providers and telecoms carriers. And networking teams have to achieve this without breaking the budget – for networking equipment or personnel.
And there’s a deeper budget problem that the SD-WAN marketing hype ignores.
Many IT professionals simply lack the CAPEX budget to either buy all the necessary kit up front, such as edge devices to prepare for SD-WAN, or the OPEX funds to be able to run upscaled monitoring operations afterwards to ensure effective SD-WAN operations going forward.
Enterprise IT departments also grasped pretty quickly that they lack the HR expertise to hire and manage the additional responsibilities that SD-WAN technologies bring.
So, enterprise IT teams need targeted and flexible help: like a weary, sunburned traveller, they need to able to buy a special type of moisturising cream from a trusted local neighbourhood pharmacy, rather than being forced to buy a whole multi-pack of standard, ineffective sun lotion from a supermarket.
So, what’s the cure for network managers’ sunburn or OPEX budgets going up in smoke as the networking team has to be expanded?
From our conversations with prospects and customers over many months, we hear that in-house networking teams are delaying SD-WAN investments until they are 100% sure which technology to choose. In addition, many of them have held off a final decision because they’ve struggled to compile a list of effective and relevant usage cases from different vendors they’ve talked to. Prospects also want to be absolutely sure that, when purchasing an SD-WAN solution, they can have easier access to end-to-end troubleshooting services and personnel.
In addition, these corporate networking teams also need expert analysis of all the mountains of data being generated across the WAN – and an implicit understanding of where to look on the network to fix these different problems and answer performance questions. But they must achieve all this without being drawn into recruiting a new team of network engineers to close these monitoring and troubleshooting gaps.
That’s why we introduced our new SD-WAN as a Service offering. It combines individually-prescribed SD-WAN technologies with 24×7 expert monitoring and management services.
It’s delivered as a complete package for each customer but it still means attractive and predictable monthly costs. So, SD-WAN can be a practical route to hitting the board’s transformation outcomes.
And enterprises that want to optimise all the technology investments they’ve made can thus implement an SD-WAN strategy – without blowing the budget on up-front equipment costs or making enforced hires and directly-managing extra network team members down the line.
It’s also our response to the trend of IT budgets moving towards OPEX through ‘as a Service’ offerings for companies’ increasing SaaS or IaaS platform needs. With the proven, expert support at the core of these new service offerings, it’s a more flexible and more realistic way for the C-suite to use SD-WAN as the real driver for their corporate change programme.
More than that, this as-a-Service model provides a practical answer for the CIO feeling a bit dazzled by the massive range of solutions on offer – or imagining the soft crackle of their precious IT budget burning up – when they come to size up their next-generation SD-WAN investments.