27 October 2016
Blogs by author: Mike Vincent, Network Practice Lead, Professional Services, BT.
SD-WAN offers a quick and easy way to gain greater control of your entire network. But only one in five organisations believe they have the in-house expertise to introduce SD-WAN solutions themselves (IDC Worldwide SD-WAN Survey Special Report July 2016).
Leave the DIY for home, and not your IT.
Deploying SD-WAN is a little like assembling an IKEA kitchen. Sure, ‘anyone’ can put together flat-pack furniture, and there are always simple graphical instructions. But you probably already know that this rarely turns out to be as easy as you expected.
And, with an entire kitchen to fit, are you going to install the sink, water feeds and drain too? If you take an honest look at your skills, there’s a good chance plumbing isn’t one of them. While you might not want to hire a contractor to do the work, you’re certainly not going to get the job done by yourself.
SD-WAN is the same, in that there’s far more integration work involved than you might have thought at first glance. And this can become a major issue for organisations as they look to make the most of their new network technology.
Be honest about your in-house skills.
According to IDC research, nearly two-thirds of organisations are set to adopt SD-WAN within the next 18 months. And, similar to what I said in a previous article, you have to separate the hype about the plug-and-play nature of SD-WAN from the actual work you’ll need to do to deploy it properly.
It’s true, the model of a fully-managed, outsourced WAN is shifting slightly. You may be moving away from a general contractor, but you’re not likely to go back to full-on DIY mode anytime soon.
The latest research from IDC shows that six in ten organisations will shift from a DIY approach to a carrier-managed virtual private network (VPN) in the next two years. This makes sense when eight out of ten companies identify the need to involve professional services in any rollout of SD-WAN services.
Assess the true scale of your deployment.
A successful deployment relies on having a plan to address a host of integration issues, including:
With SD-WAN, we’re still designing and building complex networks. Software in a virtual controller might make it easier and quicker for the skilled architect to execute, but make no mistake, you still need a skilled architect to execute a design and make it ‘real’ in the controller.
SD-WAN equipment can distinguish traffic types and applications. But without the right policy in place to explain how to treat those traffic classes, you won’t be able to add services like optimised path selection, compression or security to your default configuration.
Do you need IT skills at a remote site to install complex stacks of network equipment? Not with SD-WAN. However, just as the SDN controller centralises your complex WAN services, the switch to SD-WAN means you might need a small team of highly-skilled IT architects at your HQ — rather than a large group of remote network trouble-shooters.
Avoid a DIY SOS by getting the right people for the job.
When it comes to deploying SD-WAN across your organisation, you don’t have to do everything (including the kitchen sink). You can bring in highly skilled consultants who work with your team to design and deploy your new network services — allowing you to make the most of your technology.
So avoid a DIY SOS with your network — BT has teams of expert consultants who can help you unlock the full potential of SD-WAN, in the right way for your business.