Managed SD-WAN is transforming how businesses deploy – and benefit from – enterprise network environments. But “managed services provider” can mean different things and finding one that specializes in SD-WAN can be tricky. In this post, we’ll cover five key factors to have on hand when conducting your search.
SD-WAN – software-defined wide area networking – helps businesses increase network performance with the convenience of cloud-based control. A core benefit is the way it helps prioritize bandwidth so applications perform when you need them to.
But to experience the benefits of SD-WAN, it must be managed effectively. And that can be a lot for a business to take on in-house. For this reason, many companies turn to outsourced managed service providers (MSP) to manage the SD-WAN so they can focus on more important functions.
But before you rush headlong into a partnership with an inexperienced vendor, take a minute to consider these five factors.
#1 Proactive Management
The first thing to determine when looking for a managed SD-WAN provider is what kind of management functionality they offer. A good MSP will likely offer monitoring, but how often do they do it? And what kind of team is doing it? A fully managed solution, with proactive monitoring, will ensure someone is always watching your network.
MSPs that provide proactive 24/7/365 monitoring will have a team of trained technicians and engineers available to monitor your network and alert you if problems occur. This works to guarantee quality of service (QoS) day and night, so your network is always performing when you need it. This also helps improve bandwidth. Proactive bandwidth monitoring can help shape and steer traffic to optimize application performance.
#2 Ease of Deployment
The main benefit of partnering with an MSP is to offload from your internal team the burden of implementing and maintaining an SD-WAN solution. Ease of deployment is crucial when selecting a managed SD-WAN provider.
There are multiple ways to deploy SD-WAN: on-premises, in the cloud or a hybrid solution. All have advantages depending on the situation. A good MSP will help you identify the one that offers the most flexibility for your application and bandwidth needs. A managed service provider that can’t support your deployment needs means more work for you, which defeats the purpose of outsourcing management altogether. So, find one that can.
#3 Hybrid WAN Solutions
One of the biggest advantages SD-WAN affords is the ability to combine multiple types of public and private WAN connectivity in one solution. This is why you should find an MSP with experience deploying and managing solutions for MPLS, broadband and 4G/LTE. A hybrid solution with a strategic mix of public and private options will lower overall connectivity costs but still be able to maximize bandwidth for your applications.
To avoid high capital costs in improving network performance, a trusted managed service provider can offer an affordable and easy-to-deploy SD-WAN approach that interconnects branch offices to an enterprise-class cloud network for reliable connections. In most cases, the MSP will handle all the installation, configuration and management, freeing your IT staff to work on high-priority tasks.
Another major benefit of SD-WAN is that it can utilize public internet to route traffic more efficiently for a lower cost. But this also means the traffic must be secured. MSPs typically do this by integrating the SD-WAN solution with built-in firewalls and security tools to strengthen the security profile.
However, not all SD-WAN solutions have built-in security solutions. Here are some additional questions you should have in mind:
- Does the provider offer managed security with 24/7/365 monitoring?
- Does the provider offer next-gen firewall and IPS management?
- Does the provider offer preventive and detective solutions to proactively block malicious traffic coming to the network?
Managed SD-WAN offers a great way to deploy an optimized network solution, but only if you have the right partner to manage the details. Now that you know which factors matter most, you’re ready to start the conversation.