To put it in pop culture terms, SD-WAN is having a “moment.” It’s now the fastest-growing networking technology segment, on track for 30 per cent annual compound growth through to 2023. Canadian organizations – attracted by the promise of better security and reduced network sprawl – are actively considering SD-WAN adoption.
Although networking is in many ways a legacy technology, the market for SD-WAN solutions is still relatively young. The result is that there has been an explosion in vendors looking to take advantage of a lucrative market.
The benefits of SD-WAN when compared to the high-costs and inflexibility of MPLS are by now almost indisputable. The question for most IT teams is less about the “if” of SD-WAN, and more about the “when”, with the biggest obstacle being execution. They worry about resourcing, complexity, building a business case and, above all, identifying the right solution.
The opportunity for partners is to show they can balance a seamless network migration with helping companies put in place a platform that can help achieve digital transformation goals.
Simply put, businesses know where they want to go, they just need help getting there. For that reason, the role of trusted SD-WAN advisor has never been more important. Winning that trust and growing an SD-WAN practice, comes down to mapping out a clear execution roadmap, while also helping IT teams win the support of their executives.
Here are some tips for channel services partners looking to grow or deepen their SD-WAN offering.
Security is just as important as performance. The number of SD-WAN solutions can seem overwhelming to time-pressed IT teams, and all of them come with promises of performance and efficiency. But when it comes to SD-WAN, that’s only half the story. According to one Gartner survey, 72 percent of respondents pointed to security as their top WAN concern.
Partners not only need to come to the table with security top of mind, they must also come with SD-WAN solutions that provide cutting-edge, natively integrated security features. That includes deep and near-instant inspection of VPN traffic, next generation firewalls and seamless connectivity with enterprise security solutions. Demonstrating a deep understanding of security will go a long way to helping partners gain the trust of companies increasingly worried by the growing number of sophisticated cyberattacks.
Network performance benefits end users as well as IT teams. All traffic needs bandwidth to function. But, as network managers know, some applications, especially those focused on voice and video that are growing in popularity, have requirements that need constant monitoring. When those applications fail to perform as expected, the impact can be felt across the organization.
Look for SD-WAN solutions that can identify a broad range of applications and apply routing policies at a granular level, in order to maximize network performance. They should also be able to intelligently identify and distinguish between thousands of applications in order to place a priority on specific applications, such as voice over IP. The end result is that employees enjoy a better user experience and IT teams face less pressure to constantly maintain uptime for crucial applications.
It’s worth noting that Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN is powered by the industry’s first purpose-built SD-WAN ASIC designed to provide faster application steering for over 5,000 commonly used applications.
Worry-free remote connectivity. The rise of public networks has added yet another element of worry when it comes to security. With this context in mind, partners should look for SD-WAN solutions that offer meshed overlay VPNs and other special VPN functionality. Dynamic overlays that provide quick and reliable connections between various branch offices and devices. The ability to help IT teams monitor VPN connectivity performance in real-time, can make for a compelling argument when service providers are having SD-WAN discussions with their clients.
Don’t forget the “single pane of glass.” Some IT departments worry that migrating away from MPLS will introduce its own host of complexities, among them is efficiency. Often when an SD-WAN solution has been deployed, IT staff are left dealing with two important interfaces, one focused on WAN optimization, the other on security.
The best offerings avoid this problem altogether, providing users with consolidated viewing and management features. This enables network administrators to manage policies and protocols across the entire distributed network, including branch deployments. The benefit for IT teams is clear, the significant reduction of administrative overhead, while alerting administrators to issues they may not have noticed otherwise.
Clearly, not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal, which is why it’s important to find one flexible and powerful enough to handle all current needs, but that can also grow with an organization.
The time is right for partners to have serious conversations, backed by the right technology.
Learn how Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution includes best-of-breed next-generation firewall (NGFW) security, SD-WAN, advanced routing, and WAN optimization capabilities, delivering a security-driven networking WAN edge transformation in a unified offering.