A DIY approach to SD-WAN is not for everyone

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The winds of Digital Transformation (DX) are blowing across every industry today as companies accept the need to scale up operations to compete globally.  Regardless of their industry, CIOs see the need to have the cloud and an intelligent network in place to access data and applications their business requires. As companies plan for DX and assess their networks, they increasingly turn to SD-WAN as the solution to transform their legacy WAN.

SD-WAN’s benefits are by now proven and well-known as a future-proof solution to optimize network performance, enhance security, and provide network management visibility to identify trouble before it impacts the user experience.

The big decision for CIOs, however, is not whether to adopt SD-WAN, but the best approach to deploy it. The decision to take a do-it-yourself (DIY) or a managed approach to implement SD-WAN can have a significant impact on the company – including disruption of operations, a compromised user experience, delays in deploying new applications and, in the longer term, IT management staffing and costs. 

The likelihoodof adopting a DIY approach to SD-WAN is comparatively high for organizations that have enormous global and local IT teams capable of effectively managing all their technology stacks, from the network to the customer facing websites. An example is the financial sectors that are heavily regulated by a local monetary authority or central bank. 

On the other hand, companies with less resource to maintain a big IT team would find managed SD-WAN service more efficient with the following reasons:

Talent gap challenge

The DIY approach to SD-WAN requires IT departments to learn about the technology, analyze players, and procure and deploy new equipment in-house. DIY SD-WAN requires considerable internal talent to bridge in-house gaps in skills and experience across multiple domains – not simply network architecture, but also hybrid cloud, application performance, security and more – which is difficult and expensive to find. Building such an IT team can be a significant distraction for CIOs whose primary focus should be adding value by supporting the company’s core – and revenue generating – activities. 

Solution design knowhow

Compared to DIY, managed SD-WAN takes many of the “unknown’s” out of transforming a global network architecture. The expertise managed services providers (MSPs) bring to deploying SD-WAN will simplify the deployment process and ensure a smooth, secure and seamless transition. MSPs adopt a holistic approach to understand enterprises’ entire ICT infrastructure and business needs, and then design and plan the SD-WAN architecture with the enterprises’ business environments in mind. 

Seamless network integration with local carriers

It has been a struggle for IT departments to efficiently manage their local ISPs across multiple branches and geographies. Without a single point of network management, it is difficult for in-house IT to have a bird’s eye view of all the global network operations. What sets MSPs apart is their technical expertise to effectively manage all the traffic from multiple ISPs with different SLAs and capabilities to ensure seamless integration. 

Managed approach for CAPEX reduction

Traditional networks require significant upfront CAPEX costs for IT and networking gear to manage expanding operations. But SD-WAN also involves its own hard and soft costs. Companies opting to use the managed services SD-WAN approach can replace much of these CAPEX costs while still enjoying an agile and scalable solution as business expands as the lion’s share of CAPEX is accounted for by the MSPs.

Managed services as a competitive edge 

Outsourcing SD-WAN deployment to MSPs is a trend expected to gain traction as more   companies face the complexity of DX and the need to expand business to a global scale. SD-WAN deployment and management taking the DIY approach can overwhelm an IT department and become a full-time job.  MSPs, on the other hand, offer resources and expertise based on long experience that ensure IT departments can stay focused on core, customer facing and revenue generating activities. MSPs can ensure SD-WAN is implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner, limiting the need for companies to expand IT staff and purchase new network equipment. On this basis, managed SD-WAN will increasingly become a centerpiece of corporate strategy and a path to winning a competitive advantage in any industry.  

By: Boon Hock Goh, Senior Director, Solution Design, Network Services, APAC, NTT Communications

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