Picking your SD-WAN partner – Lessons from the WAN Summit in New York

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My colleague John Isch recently participated in a panel at the annual WAN Summit in New York. The panel, “Picking Your Partners – Strategies for the Infrastructure Manager,” offered the audience a compelling discussion on the best way to deploy SD-WAN technologies.

Among the many issues discussed was the criteria to best evaluate managed service providers and the importance of setting expectations ahead of any deployment. An SD-WAN’s true value is in designing it for real-world business challenges. This panel touched on the different factors that need to be weighed when rolling out SD-WAN, starting with security considerations, but equally important, the business drivers and the spectrum of services needed.

Determining the ultimate outcome of your SD-WAN deployment is an important first step that was debated, but perhaps the topic that generated the most enthusiastic discussion was around how you achieve that end goal: Do It Yourself (DIY) or via a managed service.

In a DIY scenario, the customer would install and configure their own routing equipment. They might enlist a systems integrator to help with the installation, but the configuration would still need to be managed on an ongoing basis by the customer. From a customer’s perspective, the downside is that DIY is a very heavy lift with a limited safety net; if the SD-WAN runs into issues, there is really no one to turn to for help or a quick fix.

Another approach discussed was co-managed, which allows a service provider and customer to share management of specific sets of services, while a fully-managed SD-WAN puts the entire process – from installing and configuring equipment to managing all the services – in the hands of a provider, including possibly consulting services, field operations and contracting Internet service providers. With Orange Business Services, we have agreements in place to manage ISPs in more than 120 countries around the world – all with a single contract.

In the end, the panel agreed that it’s essential to understand what business value SD-WAN will deliver, acknowledging your current capabilities, and then figure out the best path to get there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure that everyone – both within the company and with the provider – knows what the end goal is.

Want to discuss more? Reach out to me on twitter @WillcockRob.

Rob Willcock
Rob Willcock

Rob Willcock is President of the Americas for Orange Business Services. He leads the company’s enterprise activities across North and Latin America, positioning Orange Business Services as a trusted partner in the digital transformation of multinational corporations. Rob has more than 20 years of business and technology experience in the telecommunications industry encompassing consulting, business development and global customer programs across multiple regions. He was previously the Country Manager for Orange Business Services in the UK and Ireland, and Vice President of the Orange European customer division. Rob is a member of the International Business Leadership Team at Orange and chairs the Americas Customer Advisory Board.