If your enterprise has embraced a digital transformation strategy involving shifting major workloads to the cloud, it’s likely that you’re also considering an infrastructure upgrade to support bandwidth and performance requirements. For most enterprises, that means deploying software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).
What Is SD-WAN? While there’s a lot of buzz around SD-WAN, you’re also probably hearing some inflated ideas about what it can and can’t do. SD-WAN adds a virtual layer to the network, providing a centralized dashboard for improved control and visibility. Through that dashboard, network administrators are able to segment and prioritize traffic according to business policy.
While there are many benefits to deploying SD-WAN, including the enhanced management capabilities listed above as well as scalability and better security, there are also some expected benefits that are more elusive. One of these is cost savings.
SD-WAN is often first considered because of its reputed cost savings of upwards of 50% of the cost traditional WAN solutions. While it does offer alternative connectivity to reliable-but-costly multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) links, there are some pitfalls to avoid. When deploying SD-WAN, there are a few considerations to keep in mind so you can maximize your potential cost savings on networking solutions:
Do an Assessment of Your Current Network: Before choosing to transition to SD-WAN, it’s a good idea to map your existing network, including its configuration across multiple branches and whether your locations are somewhat equal in network demand. Doing a full assessment helps ensure you are choosing the right SD-WAN product to meet your needs.
Determine Your SD-WAN Approach: Will you build and manage an SD-WAN solution in-house, or do you prefer to outsource to a third-party managed services provider? In most cases, unless you have extensive expertise in software-defined networking and a large IT team, it makes sense to choose a managed services provider.
Examine Your Existing WAN Contracts: It’s a good idea before deploying SD-WAN to have a clear understanding of your obligations to existing network providers. Enterprises often rush to transition to SD-WAN, assuming they can simply rip out MPLS circuits without incurring early termination fees.
You need to examine your individual term commitments for MPLS, which can be anywhere from 12 to even 36 months. You may also have to pay installation charges and other fees that were waived when you initially signed the contract. In addition, even if you stay with the same provider, if you fail to meet a minimum amount on your annual revenue commitment, your provider may charge you the difference.
With SD-WAN, you may also need fewer edge devices, but check to see if you’ll have payment obligations on routers if you decide to terminate use.
These are common pitfalls that can offset the cost savings you’re expecting by deploying SD-WAN. It’s important to have a clear path to implementation that includes a careful assessment of the fees that may emerge once you’ve determined it’s time to terminate your contract.
A network upgrade can be a complex undertaking. Contact us at Cory Communications for a smoother path to deploying SD-WAN. We can help you identify any potential hidden costs, develop a strategic plan for assessing your network needs, and leverage the right solution for your enterprise.