SD-WAN is revolutionizing networking by improving how businesses connect. But before hopping on the SD-WAN train, you need to decide whether you want to manage the solution yourself or outsource the task to a managed services provider. In this post, we’ll compare the two approaches and how to choose the right one for your organization.

There are three reasons SD-WAN is overtaking traditional WAN as the go-to networking technology.

First, it gives mid-market and enterprise businesses what they can’t get from traditional WAN – which struggles to optimize their increasing bandwidth and availability needs. Second, it uses software to control and direct network traffic. This increases application performance, reduces IT operating expenses and increases productivity. Lastly, it’s completely cloud-based, dramatically reducing or eliminating installation and maintenance costs.

SD-WAN makes it easier for businesses with distributed locations to optimize traffic and delivery at each branch. It makes it simple to prioritize bandwidth for whatever cloud-based applications you depend on most – from voice to video to transactional data. This makes it possible for branch networks to operate disruption-free, with minimal downtime.

But here’s the catch. In order to experience these benefits, you need someone to deploy, install, implement, optimize and manage the solution. And when it comes to management, most businesses have two choices: in-house IT (DIY) or outsourced MSP (Managed).

Let’s explore the differences between the two.

DIY SD-WAN

The DIY SD-WAN approach can be effective for businesses that have the in-house IT expertise and resources required to manage the solution. Businesses that decide to DIY usually will partner with a third-party supplier to develop and set up the network. Once it’s set up, they’ll take over control and be responsible for prioritizing traffic.

With DIY SD-WAN, organizations often save on IT costs, mostly due to the reduction in hardware and maintenance. Additionally, they might prefer to have total control over the use and evolution of their network.

But while there are benefits, managing SD-WAN in-house does come with more responsibility. Businesses that take the DIY approach must take on the all-day-every-day responsibility of monitoring the performance and security of their network solution. This is resource intensive and will almost certainly add work to the IT team’s plate.

The IT staff responsible for maintaining the solution must also have the required knowledge and skillset needed to manage the solution effectively. If they don’t, the company will have to train current employees, hire new IT staff – or both. This unplanned expense could offset whatever savings a DIY SD-WAN approach would offer in the first place.

Managed SD-WAN

Managed SD-WAN involves outsourcing the design, deployment, management and monitoring of the SD-WAN solution to a managed services provider. Instead of using an in-house IT team, the business relies on the MSP’s team of trained engineers to administer and maintain the whole SD-WAN environment.

This approach is attractive for enterprises that don’t have the in-house resources, or interest, to manage the solution themselves. These businesses prefer to have someone else install, implement and manage the networking complexity cost-effectively.

While managed SD-WAN does require an ongoing partnership with a service provider, and changing providers can pose challenges, this is more than made up for by the time and bandwidth it can save a business.

Managed SD-WAN is fast becoming the preferred method to quickly deploy a more modern network to distributed locations. And it’s easy to see why. The right MSP will provide fast setup with low-touch installation and point-and-click provisioning. They will also offer 24/7 monitoring and support, offloading concern about network outages or downtime. Finally, billing is usually very simple, with one flat, monthly charge on one consolidated invoice.

Conclusion

The benefits of SD-WAN are obvious, but only if the system is properly managed. An organization with the ability to handle the complex features and demands of SD-WAN will be able to realize these benefits throughout the lifecycle of the solution. But for most organizations, partnering with a trusted managed services provider to prioritize bandwidth, monitor network performance and optimize for the future is the way to go.

Need help streamlining your network and optimizing bandwidth? We can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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