Six Questions to Ask Your SD-WAN Provider

By Rosa Lear
Director of Marketing, Content
July 20, 2017


As true cloud-delivered SD-WAN industry pioneers, we’re comfortable saying that we have a solid understanding of  this market. Based on experience with over 600 customers across every industry vertical and partnerships with over 40 service providers, including the biggest players, we’ve developed a set of criteria that can be used to determine if the SD-WAN provider you’re evaluating or have chosen is the right fit for your business.

As with any technology that is innovative and market disrupting, SD-WAN has garnered much media attention and, in turn, attracted a large number of entrants wanting to grab a piece of the market. Sifting through all the offerings is daunting especially as you start to peel back the layers to examine what’s really driving the solution. Without industry standards, each solution may look dramatically different and be in varying stages of market readiness. This list will help clarify the key attributes that separate vendors from each other.  

Who powers the SD-WAN component of your solution?

SD-WAN solutions are cropping up on many product offering lists across the industry from service providers, MSPs, services integrators, VARs, and on and on. Often times, the SD-WAN component is not proprietary to the provider, but is delivered by a third party SD-WAN vendor. It’s important to understand who this vendor is and if they are established and experienced.

We suggest that much time be taken in evaluating the track record of the SD-WAN solution, because many SD-WAN vendors will claim to have been in-market for a while, but may just be doing so to capitalize on the popularity of SD-WAN. In this case, their solution has likely not been exposed to enough use cases and tested in enough complex environments to be able to withstand any off-blueprint situation. SD-WAN solutions that have truly been in market for several years, and are still around, have withstood enough tests and lived to tell their tale.  

What are the proof points for this solution?

The ability to provide multiple ironclad proof points as to the legitimacy of a solution is critically important. In an industry that is continuing to evolve, there are a few points that matter more than others. For example, you’ll want to post the following questions to your provider of the SD-WAN vendor they’ve chosen:

  1. How many successfully deployed customers do they have?
  2. How many sites have they deployed?
  3. Do they have use cases that are representative of your business model?
  4. How many POPs or Gateways do they have and are you able to leverage them immediately?
Do you have an established and realistic roadmap?Image_product_roadmap

When you make the critically important decision to choose an SD-WAN vendor, just like any long-term relationship, you want to know they have your best interests at heart and that they’re going to grow with you. A big part of that commitment to you and the rest of their customers is the roadmap and how it supports your long-term strategy.

Putting together a roadmap can be relatively simple, but a good one will take significant time, research, and vetting. It needs to be realistic and attainable and aligned with the resources available to the vendor. It also needs to able to support your evolution as a company whether that be in changing IT requirements or allowing you to extend services to serve an additional customer base.

How easy and simple is deployment of the solution?

Cost is a critical concern in business: Minimizing Capex and Opex costs is desirable. Upstart costs in deploying a solution can be costly and the ability to get those costs as close to zero as possible is key.  

Any SD-WAN provider worth its salt will make it a priority to build their solution to help  customers reduce their migration or implementation time as much as possible. The key is the simplification of deployment which includes such functionalities as:

  • Established and dynamic network infrastructure that can be leveraged by the customer
  • A robust back-end infrastructure that is pervasive and global in nature and able to be leveraged by the customer, such as gateway federation
  • Zero-touch provisioning at customer premises
  • High touch support from the time a contract is signed
Is the SD-WAN solution flexible, scalable, and adaptable?

The right SD-WAN solution is inherently flexible, scalable, and adaptable. As it was designed to be complementary, or sometimes, as an alternative or replacement to an MPLS platform, it needs to break the chains imposed by MPLS.

A primary goal of SD-WAN is to eliminate a differentiation between “branches” or “remote locations” from main offices, transforming the entire organization into a completely unified enterprise where the service experience is optimized and the same for everyone, regardless of location or proximity to services. This mandates architectural flexibility.

Who are your ecosystem technology partner?

Ecosystems are important to the success of businesses today. By extending the interoperability of a solution with others not only allows for an easier integration process, but also opens the doors to integration with best of breed solutions such as security and cloud services down the line.

Additionally, an extensive ecosystem integration represents a few things:

  1. An SD-WAN vendor that has considered the numerous permutations of the use of its solution and partnered with companies that can augment the service or that can allow for an easier installation as solutions have already been proven to be interoperable.
  2. The SD-WAN solution has been vetted by numerous organizations to the point that they are willing to associate their valuable brand with the vendors. This takes a great level of trust and cooperation to align with another company is this way.

If you’re interested in learning more about VeloCloud and who has chosen us as the SD-WAN engine, click here.

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