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Will 2018 be the year for SD-WAN?

Demands on your network continue to escalate, can your WAN keep up with your ambitions?

Is SD-WAN the right solution to get you there? Do you need some help navigating the SD-WAN maze in 2018?

As principal consultant for Managed Network Services/SD-WAN I wanted to write this blog to share my thoughts on the key trends likely to hit this market in 2018, while also aiming to answer to some of the big questions likely to face customers moving forward.

If you are in the technology industry, it's likely you have heard of SD-WAN and how it is going to make big waves in the networking space. The biggest problem however is the question of how. Specifically, how is SD-WAN going to make IT operations more effective?

There have been a lot of promises made about SD-WAN. Claims ranging from internet-only VPNs to fully automated network deployment and operation via self-service models have been all the rage; however, the question for 2018 clearly is: Will SD-WAN deliver on the hype? The short answer is effectively, no.

This is not to say that there are no advantages in deploying SD-WAN, but the key is to truly understand what the benefits of SD-WAN could be for your business and then working on a plan to incorporate them into a deployment time frame that works for you. Short, medium, or long term plans all can be accommodated with the right model.

For starters, what we're seeing in the market place now is a desire to move more towards a hybrid network model as opposed to the hyped internet-only model, one that consists of both an MPLS circuit and an internet circuit at the branch office location. Some customers are also looking to capitalise on 4GX and upcoming 5G capabilities in order to strengthen their WAN positions over and above a dual link model.

The desire to do so allows customers to continue to trust their business-critical applications to MPLS carriage services that have long supported them and allow internet-based services (such as Office 365 and other SaaS providers) to be routed via the direct internet link at the site. Mobility backup (4GX/5G) allows customers to provide next-level resiliency for one or more terrestrial service.

As a result of implementing a model like this, customers are able to add a lot of flexibility, scale, and resiliency to their networks, whilst undertaking a 'right size' operation from a commercial perspective, so as to ensure they are consuming each service in a manner specifically suited to their needs. From an automation and orchestration perspective, this is where the strength of SD-WAN really shines; however, is it really as simple as clicking a button and watching the network come alive? As cool as that sounds, the short answer again is, unfortunately, a no.

While SD-WAN providers have gone out of their way to make deployment and operation as easy as possible, it still relies heavily on traditional network technologies to make it all work. As such, it is important to ensure that when speaking with anyone about an SD-WAN solution, you speak with someone who understands these capabilities in order to ensure your SD-WAN solution is done right.

Finally, with many SD-WAN providers in the market, it's only natural to ask who the best hardware/software provider is for your business and network requirements. More importantly, you should also ask if SD-WAN is the right solution for your short, medium, and long-term objectives. Maybe it is, maybe it's not, but by engaging Telstra's consulting-led service capability, we can help you answer this key question, the best vendor question, and the many other questions you're likely to have when considering a SD-WAN solution.

So, will 2018 be the year for SD-WAN? If we get it right, I believe that it will be.

Read more now about SD-WAN.