Why carriers aren’t ready for SD-WAN services

Throughout my early years as a consultant, when asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) was the rage and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) was still at the outset, I handled numerous roles as a network architect alongside various carriers. During that period, I experienced first-hand problems that the new technologies posed to them.

The lack of true end-to-end automation made our daily tasks run into the night. Bespoke network designs due to the shortfall of appropriate documentation resulted in one that person knows all. The provisioning teams never fully understood the design. The copy-and-paste implementation approach is error-prone, leaving teams blindfolded when something went wrong.

Designs were stitched together and with so much variation, that limited troubleshooting to a personalized approach. That previous experience surfaced in mind when I heard about carriers delivering SD-WAN services. I started to question if they could have made the adequate changes to provide such an agile service.

As with most network services, carriers such as Verizon are integrating SD-WAN and security devices together to form SD-WAN services. This is very different from new SD-WAN providers, such as Cato Networks, who wrote their own networking and security code together. Other providers, such as Silver Peak, Viptela (now Cisco) and Velcloud (now VMWare) offer an SD-WAN appliance model approach.

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