Enterprises across all industries are working to incorporate technology with the goal of driving down costs and increasing efficiencies. That is no easy feat as new technology continues to get more and more expensive and convoluted. A few underlying questions then arise:
  •        Can we get rid of other services/suppliers upon implementation?
  •        Where will we see savings/efficiencies on the backend?
  •        What does the timeline look like before benefits are noticed in the bottom line?
In the case of network connectivity; mergers, acquisitions, and new solution rollouts within the market are constant. The latest buzz word in the Telecommunications and Network Industry is SD-WAN. Organizations want to know how to implement, which provider(s) to use, and how it will impact their current network layout.

As it stands, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) appears to be the future of wide area network connectivity solutions that is taking over a spot previously held by multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). SD-WAN enables your business to utilize its MPLS, dedicated internet, and broadband links in a more efficient and effective way, while optimizing network traffic based on changing conditions. For example, if a connection point is being affected by packet loss or jitter, SD-WAN will route traffic to a connection with more availability without the need for your IT team to take action. While calculating and chosing the best path, SD-WAN also supports prioritization of traffic and provides visibility into cloud-based activity, which has been a struggle for corporate IT departments in the past. This technology identifies certain types of network traffic and prioritizes critical over less important traffic. Additionally, the traffic flows over fully encrypted tunnels and can be broken down, providing a high level of security. It’s as if you have a third party essentially manage network activity at each of your locations. Ultimately, SD-WAN helps to ensure that minimal bandwidth is wasted and you’re not paying for links that sit idle. Best-in-class corporations using SD-WAN are realizing substantial savings through optimization, have better access to cloud based services and notice better performance, control and redundancy.

SD-WAN is unique as solutions are offered by the large carriers and hardware manufacturers as well as smaller, emerging players, all while mergers and acquisitions seem to be occurring each week. Each supplier has their own approach, and no “one size fits all” model exists. An SD-WAN solution can be laid on top of your current network, enabling it to utilize all types of links in a resourceful, robust fashion. There are different tiered suppliers with different capabilities and functionality who are purchasing companies and platforms while adjusting their own footprint and technology. With all of this in mind, it’s critical to develop a well-defined strategy to procure an SD-WAN solution.

To begin evaluating the market landscape and identifying the appropriate provider(s)/solution, consider an elaborate RFP process. Though the task may seem initially daunting, you’ll find an SD-WAN RFP process valuable in learning which services and providers best fit your network requirements. A comprehensive baseline and spend analysis are beneficial exercises in understanding which department utilizes each component of your network and the potential for right-sizing within your organization. A company must understand their unique underlying services in order to grasp the sensitive balance between retaining incumbent providers and building a new SD-WAN strategy. Up front cost and overarching changes to your network can appear overwhelming but benefits from a swifter and more agile network are endless. SD-WAN will empower your employees to do their jobs more effectively and set your company up for growth in the future. For additional support navigating the SD-WAN supplierlandscape, contact Source One’s IT Sourcing experts to help you partner with the best-fit SD-WAN vendor and negotiate a best-in-class contract.
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