When customers are considering SD-WAN, they should be adopting a “Pick Your Carrier” (PYC) methodology when selecting a service provider, this approach provides them with more power to choose the service that meets their needs.
The RIOT Solutions team and I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of the most significant and largest SD-WAN deployments in the country over the last four years. Although the building blocks of SD-WAN have been around for a while, refinement and adoption have reached the required level of maturity for all business types, sizes and industries. This adoption brings significant benefits in many areas and is currently the hot industry buzz word. This buzz has increased by analysts and vendors predicting that nine out of ten customers will be exploring and adopting SD-WAN over the next 24 months. In my opinion, this will be one of those significant lifecycle changes that many in the industry will remember.
This buzz is why many vendors have and continue to invest significantly into SD-WAN and Software Defined Networking (SDN) as the new frontier. This direction and focus make sense as we move towards more flexible programmability (API’s), self-healing, security challenges and the next generation of network engineers. Additionally, the benefits also include:
- The ability to create a secure overlay network over any carrier service
- Creating a secure always-on service
- Extending security to the perimeter
- Utilising multiple paths in an active-active state
- Using lower cost internet service for secure WAN connectivity
- Introduce local internet breakout where appropriate
- Removing the need to haul all traffic through the data centre to access cloud service
- Automation, programmability and templating.
One of the most significant benefits that SD-WAN provides customers is the ability to support a PYC methodology allowing them to move away from carrier lock-in, including the flexibility to utilise any carrier and any carriage technology where and when required. While this benefit is a driver for most businesses, the adoption of SD-WAN is being somewhat slowed by carriers and service providers due to the disruption this approach causes their traditional carriage service technologies.
Carriers and service providers certainly have done an outstanding job at educating the market, customers, partners and even integrators that they must remain locked into one provider end to end. They add doubt and confusion by claiming that the complexity of moving away outweighs the benefit. Remember the old days when you could not port your mobile number to a different provider and being locked-in, and when we could migrate and keep our number the sky did not fall in, it feels a bit like that.
Don’t get me wrong; there is no doubt that the idea of single lock-in includes some benefits such as discounts, vendor and contract management complexities and reducing perceived technical complexity. Understandably, carriers are in a problematic position knowing that SD-WAN disruption is forcing the market to be consumerized, giving the customers greater choice. Added to this the deployment of the NBN is providing customers access to much higher performing services which in many cases performs on par with private facilities such as MPLS.
While we as an industry get and understand the benefits of SD-WAN (well at least I hope we do), I think that we still have to do a better job of educating the market and customers on all the benefits that SD-WAN and SDN can provide. The reason I raise this is that over the last year with doing many more engagements around SD-WAN, workshops and discussions with customers, they seem to have missed one critical fundamental that is provided by SD-WAN; it can provide a secure overlay network over any network type such as MPLS, NBN, 4G or other internet services. This ultimately provides them with more choice and flexibility in their carriage investments.
Finally, promoting the idea of “Pick Your Carrier” (PYC) not only benefits customers but carriers as well. In many cases, the providers will be able to offer new or additional services to customers that they may not have had access to before.
Michael van Rooyen
Chief Technology Officer at RIOT Solutions