Software Defined Wide Area Networks, popularly known as SD-WAN has grown to be one of the preferred choices when it comes to network routing technologies in recent times. It aggregates various transport media while sharing traffic across networks and results in superior performance, enhanced efficiency, and capability at a comparatively lower cost. It helps organizations that have distributed locations to improve the performance of applications through smart routing of traffic along with its several WAN circuits such as 4G, 5G, internet, etc. That is perhaps why it has become the most widely used substitute to other very popular networking technology called MPLS.
SD-WAN technology has also enabled several MSPs, CSPs, system integrators and cable providers to increase their offerings around managed WAN services. There are a number of service providers available in the market that offer SD-WAN technology solutions through various business models like software licenses, SD-WAN as a service, and managed SD-WAN. As an enterprise, you can use these services and improve your network performance. Please read through this article to learn in detail.
What is SD-WAN as a Service?
To understand at a very basic level, SD-WAN uses software initiated networking technology in WAN connections which are used by networks to communicate among its various branches over long distances. In this type of technology, more control is moved over cloud using software orchestration to deliver more efficient and consistent transport of data.
When SD-WAN connectivity is delivered by a third party as a managed service, it is called SD-WAN as a service which is also termed as SaaS. It is basically a software distribution model where third-party vendors are hired to host applications and which is then made available to customers on the network. SaaS fundamentally works as a technology delivery model and under this, organizations are billed on a monthly subscription basis. Here the monitoring and managing of SD-WAN service is done by the organization itself using a cloud-based portal. As per the need in different branch locations, the organization may have to connect with different CSPs for SD-WAN connectivity.
Using SD-WAN as a service, organizations also enjoy the benefit of upgradability over the cloud. As per its requirements, organizations can select the level of functionality and can change it over a period of time and accordingly monthly subscription can be modified.
SD-WAN from Service Providers
As a business opportunity, SD-WAN as a service is seen as a lucrative option by many providers these days. There have emerged several big players in the industry that are managing enterprise WAN and providing SD-WAN as a service. On the other side, enterprises also look at this as a value proposition to outsource the activity and let expert service providers manage their WAN network or applications using software and they can focus on other key business priorities.
AT&T, Verizon, Singtel, Windstream are some of the big CSPs that are offering these services. VeloCloud was selected as a partner by Windstream in early 2017 to manage its SD-WAN networking technology. AT&T has also partnered with VeloCloud and is offering SD-WAN as a service. Similarly, other major partners who are helping service providers managing their SD-WAN technology are Cisco (partnering with CenturyLink, Vodafone, and Verizon) and Versa (partnering with Verizon, Singtel, China Telecom Global, and Comcast). Verizon also uses Viptela for its large enterprise customer base. There are other MSPs like CommandLink, ISS, GTT Communications, Step CG and CISSDM that offer managed SD-WAN services through other partners like Fortinet, HP, Riverbird, CloudGenix, Silver Peak, VMware, and Versa Networks. Most of these vendors use their same IP backbone to converge their data, voice, and video applications. They offer a comprehensive package of services and merge the video, data, and voice applications into one solution which helps enterprises optimize the network bandwidth and prioritize the traffic over the internet.
SD-WAN as a Service v/s Managed SD-WAN
Basically as a business model, managed network service can be described where an organization’s networking services and applications are outsourced to another MSP (Managed Services Provider) or CSP (Customer Service Provider). These service providers manage the monitoring and securing of SD-WAN services. The agreement between the MSP and enterprise is typically based on a number of locations and sites, speed of links, and other SLAs. One can refer to managed SD-WAN as an extension to SD-WAN as a service. Typically an enterprise uses SD-WAN managed service providers for end-to-end installation, delivery, application management, monitoring and maintenance services, and payment is made accordingly. Here managed SD-WAN can be termed as an opportunity for the service provider to offer other value adds such as application performance enhancement and SD-WAN security. Under this service, the provider gives end to end solution concerning networking solutions includes software, hardware and other transport services which are required to deliver appropriate service or application. Once finalized, service level agreements are made to ensure the performance and uptime of the network.
We are providing a point by point comparison between SD-WAN as a Service v/s Managed SD-WAN which will help you understand the fine difference between the two kinds of SD-WAN services:
SD-WAN as a Service
- SD-WAN connectivity is delivered by the third party vendor
- The provider uses its own private network
- Monitoring and managing of SD-WAN service remains enterprise’s own responsibility
- Billing is typically done in short term on the basis of selected features and functionality by enterprise
- Enterprise connects with the provider for WAN connectivity
- Extension to SD-WAN as a service and includes complete software, hardware, and other maintenance services
- External partner is hired to add SD-WAN services to its overall offering
- The external vendor is responsible for monitoring and managing of SD-WAN service
- Long term agreements are made on the basis of locations, sites, and link speed
- End to end management is done by external vendor
Benefits of SD-WAN as a Service for Businesses
SD-WAN as a service and Managed SD-WAN services have proven to be an extremely attractive proposition to organizations in recent times. It is because of the fact that there are multiple benefits associated with SD-WAN as a service. Some of these benefits are:
Optimizing installation, maintenance, and monitoring activities
Organizations hire the SD-WAN service provider for the installation and delivery of WAN connectivity. There are other services like maintenance and monitoring which are also included as part of the package