WAN Summit recap: challenges facing SD-WAN services


If the recent WAN Summit in New York where I moderated a panel on last-mile access (more on that later) was any indication, the SD-WAN market is shifting towards a service-delivery model where sufficient network security and predictability are baked into the SD-WAN so the service can replace MPLS.

In session and private conversations, topics related to secure SD-WAN services kept popping up. The challenges of today’s managed services. The impact of the cloud. The need for SLAs in SD-WAN services. How encryption complicates visibility and, by extension, enterprise security. These and other issues point to the change and challenges facing SD-WAN services.

SD-WAN and the rise of co-managed services

During his talk, “WAN design in the age of SD-WAN” Jim Fagan, director of global platforms at Telstra spoke about how the definition of what is a managed service changes with SD-WAN. It used to be that carriers provided fully-managed networking services —  the service delivery, design, maintenance and more were controlled by the carrier. To the enterprise, the a fully managed service is a black box. Got a problem? Open a ticket. There’s little visibility and no control over the service.

The cloud has changed how we think about networks, though. We’ve entered the world of co-management where the provider runs the underlying infrastructure, but the enterprise customer (or their MSP) is responsible for their SD-WAN instance across that infrastructure. Think AWS for networking services. In this new model, costs are much lower while control and visibility are much higher.

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