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Blog · 28 Nov 2019

Consumer’s choice for SD-WAN solutions

What do the different SD-WAN products offer, what are the challenges associated with them and which customers do they best suit?

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Head of dynamic network services

The future of networking is all about finding the solution that best solves a customer’s unique problems.

In the SD-WAN space that’s not an easy task, as customers now have a huge range of different options to choose from.

So, what do the different products offer, what are the challenges associated with them and which customers do they best suit?  Our partnership with Cisco gives us a view of new developments on the horizon and enables us to develop innovative services to meet evolving customer needs.  Some of this innovation you’ll see reach the market over the coming months.

The here and now of SD-WAN

Networking expert, Anne-Galle Santos, explains:

SD-WAN technology is developing at an ever-increasing pace. Already there’s a wide range of solutions for customers to choose from. One of the first decisions is around hardware. Here are some of the choices and who they might be best suited to;

  1. The first level of hardware includes low end devices (vEdge) that are suitable for sites that don’t require a lot of through put. It’s for customers who want a “does what it says on the tin” solution — offering them a fast, reliable and secure standard SD-WAN solution.
  2. The next level leverages Cisco’s ISR routers. SD-WAN software can be directly integrated into these existing customer-premises devices and this provides a very stable, robust and highly reliable service. They also offer a range of optional additional security features, above and beyond those included within the basic SD-WAN solution mentioned above.
  3. The Cisco Enterprise Network Compute System (ENCS) provides the next progression in terms of SD-WAN options. This allows customers to use a single customer-premises device to deliver a number of virtualised services, including SD-WAN. This is a great choice for medium-sized sites where the customer wants to consolidate a number of different services onto a single device. Some examples of what can be included are additional security services, application optimisation and/or management services, and there are lots more options.
  4. Finally, setting up a virtual instance of SD-WAN can help customers reap end-to-end benefits across all environments.  For example, those who are aggressively adopting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications within their business can deploy both a virtual instance of SD-WAN with cloud OnRamp, and also deploy it in their private data centre. This means they can take advantage of any of the options outlined above and still benefit from a managed service wrap. This solution can be adapted according to each customer’s business needs and security requirements.

An eye on the future

With so many great options, it can be a challenge finding the best fit for what customers want both today and tomorrow. It’s always important to have one eye on the future and understand how the network needs to evolve alongside the organisation. That’s where BT can work with customers to make sure the services and solution are future proofed.

With a bird’s eye view of the Cisco roadmap, we know what’s coming to market in the next 12 to 18 months and can therefore align our recommendations with the solutions we know will be available. Plus, we’ve got a wealth of experience in matching networking technology to customer need and can provide recommendations based on how other organisations have evolved and how their needs have changed.

The risk and reward of networking

While we’re pushing the boundaries to ensure that we offer clients the best possible networking fit, there are, of course, challenges accompanying the latest technological developments. Put simply, moving from hardware to software means more risk. The security landscape for cloud networking is completely different and far more complex than traditional networking hardware.

Luckily, this is something we work to mitigate long before the latest technologies are passed on to the customer. We validate the software for a number of things, including:

  • functionality (making sure it does what the vendor says)
  • performance (making sure it can support the customers’ through-puts)
  • maturity (making sure that there are no bugs that affect the set-up or use of the deployment).

All of these checks help to take the risk out of any technology we pass onto the customer. Plus, we make sure that throughout the lifetime of the contract, we perform in-life management on any software we deploy. So, we’ll manage any of the potential entries for new security risks that an SD-WAN introduces. For example via public network, public cloud capability, new devices and new software introductions, all can be dealt with by us to keep our customers secure.

What’s more, all these great solutions, and BT’s support, are already available all around the world. Regardless of the country and networking option a customer chooses, BT’s deployments are repeatable globally, so you’ll always receive the same high standard.

Find out we can help you deploy your SD-WAN.

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