Is an SD-WAN managed service right for you?

For enterprises considering an SD-WAN solution, one of the key choices will be who will implement and manage it.

For some enterprises this is a relatively straightforward decision; for others the choice may require more deliberation. In either case, best-practice sourcing dictates that this decision be made up front – to achieve exceptional results, the sourcing strategy, approach and execution following must be tailored to the desired self-managed or fully-managed solution. 

If you have a strong and sufficiently sized internal networking team with associated software/routing and other engineering competencies, taking on the implementation of SD-WAN is more than feasible. There may still need to be development of new skill-sets to take advantage of the technology and fully understand the flavor of SD-WAN chosen.

A structured vendor-selection process and a clear route to a meaningful pilot will be important for both choosing products that align with the enterprise’s specific needs and continuing the internal team’s education. The time should be used not just for the technical beauty parade and discussion of implementation challenges, but to consider any organizational adaptation that will be required. This should include consideration of how the networking team can better align with the application teams given the promise SD-WAN offers to more optimally serve the needs of applications.

Sourcing SD-WAN is a more iterative process than it is for more mature technologies such as MPLS.  There is a strong case for a more flexible approach than the RFP of old – something that is quicker, still robust but allows you to be up and running sooner. We call this approach the “RFI+.”

Part of the approach is to use your potential solutions live to address real pain points – a meaningful pilot – which also starts to convince stakeholders throughout the business of the benefits.  Demonstrably improved performance is always valuable in re-affirming the decision to executives and business users, and, importantly, to further inform what your end-state network architecture should be.  Contract for a degree of flexibility to allow you to capitalize on your experiences with beneficial adaptation of what were your day-one plans.

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