One size doesn’t fit all: Choosing the right SD-WAN solution for your business

By: Srinivas Prasad

The benefits and business value offered by software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions are so compelling that all industry verticals seem to be jumping on the WAN transformation bandwagon. Ever since this technology burst onto the scene, the adoption rate has been rising exponentially. But as exciting and advantageous the SD-WAN journey is, it can also be confusing – mostly due to the plethora of vendors in the market offering a bewildering array of options and complex solutions. And as with any other kind of shopping, unrealistic promises and vague terminology can make it difficult to compare products. Many IT managers are having a hard time determining which SD-WAN solution is the right one for their organization.

SD-WAN providers

The competitive landscape of SD-WAN providers can be broken down to managed service providers, WAN infrastructure–based providers and pure-play vendors, while the emerging SD-WAN market landscape consists of a mix of service providers providing SD-WAN solutions based on WAN infrastructure and WAN optimization, pure-play SD-WAN solutions, managed communications service provider (CSP) SD-WAN service and cloud managed SD-WAN services.

As the technology finds its footing, SD-WAN players are expanding their capabilities to ensure reliable, high-speed and low-latency connectivity between multiple cloud providers and enterprise networks. As a part of this initiative, some SD-WAN players have partnered with cloud vendors. Of course, there are vendor specializations that differentiate them from the others and the gap is getting narrower and narrower. The main differentiation exists in the breadth of a vendor’s ecosystems, in the variety of deployment models and in flexible licensing plans.

Industry requirements

Choosing the right SD-WAN solution for your business is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Each industry has its own specific requirements:

–  Manufacturing: Drive network segmentation, cloud enablement and IoT, and support industry standard  specifications

–  Retail: WAN deployments must meet PCI norms, enable high performance while accessing hybrid networks and support for cellular

–  Healthcare: Drive segmentation, cloud enablement, remote access and compliance

– Financial: Business depends on highly secured, reliable and high-performing WAN

Comparison shopping

The SD-WAN market has become quite crowded with numerous vendors, many start-ups, shipping products and more entering the segment every day. Perhaps the biggest issue facing any vendor offering SD-WAN products is differentiating from competitors. Ultimately, your SD-WAN solution needs to have the right cost-value propositions that align with your organization’s strategy and tactical goals. This is achieved through very careful and deep technical comparisons between leading solutions in the market. Shortlisting and finalizing the right SD-WAN solution for your organization can be a daunting task. The choices may seem overwhelming.

How can IBM help?

IBM can help you select the right SD-WAN vendor to guide your deployment and invest in your future success. IBM’s SD-WAN consulting services are supported by tools and techniques to provide a clear, quantifiable technical comparison and ROI measurement for a proposed solution. There are also non-technical criteria to consider, like customer references, experience with large-scale deployments, flexible pricing models and overall company health.

Build your transformation journey with IBM’s lifecycle-based approach that spans strategy, design, implementation and management. Know more about IBM MultiNetwork Services.

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