Should you buy an SD-WAN service?


When we first started evaluating SD-WANs, the market was pretty straightforward. You had a few appliance (virtual and hardware) providers, a service provider and that’s about it. Today, more than 30 vendors deliver some kind of SD-WAN.

Mind boggling? A bit, but we can help. There are three categories of SD-WAN offerings today. You can buy SD-WAN equipment (and software) and do it yourself (DIY), subscribe to an over-the-top (OTT) SD-WAN service, or have your SD-WAN bundled with a carrier network, such as MPLS or Direct Internet Access (DIA). We’ll look at each one of them.

DIY SD-WANs

One of SD-WAN’s major selling points is the freedom from carrier commitment. There’s no carrier lock-in, no maintenance windows, and no service delays. If you have a problem with your MPLS service, there’s not much you can do, assuming there’s no violation of the service-level agreement (SLA). (And even then, there’s often not much that can be done). However, with DIY SD-WANs you can just switch to another service provider. 

+ Also on Network World: IDC: SD-WAN market to hit $6B by 2020 +

The downside? Be ready to take on the heavy lifting involved with building any WAN. Vendor research and selection is complicated by the range of vendors and offerings. To make matters worse, sales and marketing people tend to blur the lines between “slideware” and shipping features. Preliminary vendor selection based on accurate product information will dramatically shorten, simplify and reduce the costs of selecting an SD-WAN vendor. 

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