SD-WANs are a challenge for global enterprises where a large number of ISPs are engaged to meet business requirements. Some larger enterprises can have over 100 internet and telecom contracts, for example. These contracts can vary dramatically in terms of service level agreements (SLAs), incident management and reporting, amongst others. To manage them all requires a dedicated in-house team with a major investment in tools to carry out governance and tasks such as ISP incident management.
By going down the multisourcing service integration (MSI) route, enterprises basically eliminate all of this complexity by enabling a service integrator to take over the management of the contracts, while the enterprises remain owner of sourcing and contract management. This helps the enterprise realize on the promise SD-WAN makes and allows staff to be assigned to business-orientated tasks instead. The service integrator provides one point of contact between the customer and the individual service providers that is designed to orchestrate, integrate and make processes easier and more efficient.
Having an additional layer between the customer and each individual ISP means that the enterprise doesn’t have to spend precious time working out which ISP to call if there is a failure, finding out which times they are available and what language they operate in.
According to analyst firm Gartner, MSI is evolving rapidly in line with growing customer demand. This has created a segmented range of solutions on the market, ranging from managed services that include cloud services brokerage (CSB) to consultancy services to assist in building an MSI function, in addition to build-operate-transfer (BOT) project services that create a highly capable IT service management (ITSM) foundation.
By 2019, Gartner expects 50 percent of external services and solutions spend of global 2000 companies to be through less than ten strategic vendors in an organization’s entire vendor ecosystem.
One point of contact
An MSI ultimately provides convenience. There is one unified service desk. The customer calls into the desk and the service integrator takes care of incident management and problem resolution. The MSI works closely with ISPs to restore any services if they go down.
The MSI also provides end-to-end service monitoring. Relying on individual service providers to guarantee end-users SLAs is difficult, as they are tracked by the ISP individually from point-to-point. By unifying the SLAs, the service integrator can make sure they are end-user orientated and performance is monitored from end-to-end instead of via points, so enterprises get a 360 degree performance picture across their entire network.
In an MSI framework, enterprises usually want to retain ownership of their local contracts. In this scenario, the service integrator works on behalf of the customer through letters of engagement to govern and orchestrate all third parties and make sure they are working on continuous improvements in terms of lower number incidents, increased availability etc.
MSIs can collaborate with local ISPs to help them improve services with solutions they may not have previously had access to. The service integrator can centralize some functions, such as service desk and reporting, which means they don’t have to purchase this feature from the ISPs or telcos, which is yet another cost saving. Additionally, through a unified service catalog of their ISPs and telcos, enterprises can see exactly what services they have contracted for and the price they’re paying in real time. It is also easy to see when contracts need to be renewed or updated, for example.
On the security side, the MSI can ensure all the ISPs are implementing the customer’s security policies correctly – making sure they are translated into the correct technical configuration rules in the firewalls, anti-virus software etc. This ensures that processes don’t create security breaches and provides a single security policy across the board for all ISPs.
The MSI also provides support 24/7 and works proactively with the ISPs to make sure that any releases or changes are done in accordance with the customer’s business needs. This makes sure any downtime doesn’t impact productivity. Service integrators typically provide customers with an IT service management portal to ensure they have a complete view of their network and performance levels – making sure the service providers are doing their job.
MSI not only gives enterprises more agility and flexibility – it also helps realize major cost savings. Where duplications were made in team efforts previously, these can be significant. Cost savings estimates range from between 5% and 20%. MSI figures last year saw incidents drop more than 30%. We would expect similar when MSI is applied to SD-WAN.
For these reasons, it isn’t just multinationals who are looking at MSI for SD-WAN. We also see interest from domestic customers who rely on several ISPs nationally. After all, a multi-sourcing strategy using an MSI helps them get an improved service and better prices.
A modular answer to complexity
Many companies see the value in SD-WAN but are wary of the many ISPs and telcos they will have to manage. This can be a real deterrent. But, it really doesn’t have to be that difficult. MSI can easily remove all this complexity and risk, giving enterprises the flexibility and cost savings without the huge headache of managing the infrastructure.
Alex helps enterprises to simplify, secure and increase cost efficiency across their ICT operations using Multisourcing Service Integration (MSI). He joined Orange in 2001 and has held positions in strategic marketing, product management, pricing and business development. Previously he was marketing director for cybersecurity, our cloud computing Chief Operating Officer and worked at Orange Labs. Alex has 17 years’ experience in the IT and telecommunications industry. Earlier in his career he launched a startup and sits on the French Tech board in Rennes where he acts as a mentor and pitch trainer to innovative companies. Alex graduated from the EM Lyon in France, the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Universidad de Salamanca.