SD-WAN is not an all-encompassing solution. It’s part of a much broader application delivery ecosystem. And it’s not as simple as vendor marketing messages make it sound. There are additional costs, time, and IT resources required for negotiating multiple carrier master service agreements (MSAs), deploying multiple carrier transports, and coordinating various carrier network operation centers — for every location.
A fundamental capability of SD-WAN is its ability to aggregate multiple, diverse network links. SD-WAN uses policies to intelligently and proactively manage traffic across physical and logical paths to avoid congestion, latency, and jitter. This improves application performance and eliminates outages from any one carrier network.
SD-WAN, when purchased as a stand-alone, edge solution is accompanied by additional long-term costs and resources. When SD-WAN edge products are sold to enterprises, their IT teams and/or network integrators are responsible for deploying, integrating, managing, monitoring, and supporting everything associated with the SD-WAN.
SD-WAN services procured from a carrier are typically limited by the carrier’s network, as they loath to bring competitor networks into their solutions. This means the customer may not receive the lowest price and most advantageous network solution. More importantly, if the carrier has a major outage, the customer WAN will go down with it, defeating the reliability benefits of SD-WAN. This can be avoided by using a carrier-neutral SD-WAN service.
If the carrier doesn’t have fiber in a particular building, it may require an expensive network buildout. If another carrier’s fiber is available in that building, the customer can have them provide WAN connectivity for that location. But, this places an additional burden on the customer, to manage and coordinate multiple carrier negotiations, deal with different NOCs’ support organizations, and separate contracts and often complex billings.
This is where the SD-WAN supply chain, and the management of its ecosystem, begins to come into play.
SD-WAN Supply Chain
The SD-WAN supply chain is comprised of the entire ecosystem of people, activities, information, technologies, and resources involved in delivering SD-WAN as-a-service. This includes the planning and management of all application delivery infrastructure and activities involved in sourcing, procurement, deployment, and logistics.
For carrier-neutral SD-WAN as-a-service to be successful, the integration and management of the SD-WAN supply chain’s functional operations becomes all-important. The business processes, policies, and controls that create a fully managed, cohesive, and high-performing SD-WAN service, are dependent upon the “secret-sauce” that drives the supply chain management — streamlining logistics, reducing time-to-market, and simplifying complexity.
SD-WAN service offerings are not created equal. Some are proprietary, with the network owned and operated by the traditional carrier. Others, are carrier-neutral solutions, that are designed and built to each customer’s specification.
This is where the entire SD-WAN supply chain becomes critically important, as it includes the planning and management of all application delivery infrastructure involved in sourcing, procurement, deployment, and logistics. The provider of SD-WAN as-a-service manages everything as a single point of contact.
A fully managed, carrier-neutral SD-WAN service will evaluate each customer location, and recommend the best circuits based on proximity, price, deployment time, and service quality — which is a very specific and personalized approach. A global SD-WAN supply chain includes SD-WAN edge appliances, multi-carrier network procurements and negotiated contracts, sophisticated data intelligence on millions of buildings to streamline the search for competitive circuit pricing, and multi-carrier administration of financing and billing. To accomplish this, a global SD-WAN supply chain requires robust internal systems, tools, and processes to coordinate and optimize relationships among hundreds of suppliers.
The ever-evolving application delivery infrastructure will always pose challenges for the multi-location enterprise. To keep pace in this dynamic environment, the SD-WAN as-a-service supply chain is increasingly important to driving efficiency and reducing costs. But, it’s not the only factor required for success. As with any service, customer experience is the cornerstone of success.
A personalized, consultative approach when working with a customer will ensure that their particular business objectives and needs are met. Streamlining processes, and evolving the SD-WAN supply chain to adapt to the customer’s requirements, are ultimately driven by the quality of customer relationships. A customer-first approach includes providing them with guidance and education regarding the various decisions that must be made. The SD-WAN supply chain is really a means to an end, for achieving the best application delivery infrastructure that meets each customer’s diverse business needs.