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A recent survey of SD-WAN managed services found that over 80% of enterprise organisations and end-users were increasingly aware of SD-WAN technology as they looked for managed services.1 The respondents were especially interested in hybrid and co-managed options. When asked, survey participants identified co-managed or self-service portals as the critical feature in a managed environment. Specifically, they wanted a dashboard or portal to incorporate the following:
- Trouble ticketing
- Service management
A close second in priority was support for multi-cloud connectivity and Service Assurance. Over 90% of companies believe that an SD-WAN strategy is central to growth and are actively pursuing delivery options. For service providers, now is the time to incorporate value-added SD-WAN services into their technology stack if they want to take advantage of the business opportunity.
How are SD-WAN Services being delivered?
Despite the fact that some kind of controller portal accompanies almost all SD-WAN packages, they are often limited in terms of functionality and user-friendliness. Most SD-WAN services are lacking in consolidated dashboards or portals that integrate with existing network visibility solutions. As a result of this common deficiency, consolidated SD-WAN solutions are fast becoming a priority feature for network managers.2
Today’s solutions use a three-tiered approach. The SD-WAN platform provider delivers technology to managed services providers who in turn offer the solution to their customers. Everyone in the delivery chain needs access. Unfortunately, SD-WAN technology was never designed for multi-tenant environments. Specifically they feature…
In most implementations, the MSP works with an SD-WAN provider to deliver services to the end-user. Sometimes, the MSP’s customers find themselves interfacing with the MSP and the technology provider. When clients work with multiple vendors to resolve an issue, they find that problem resolution may take longer and communication may be lacking.
To avoid complexity, service providers are deploying a business model that limits real-time communications to the provider and the client. The technology supplier interacts with the service provider, but the managed service provider restricts communication between the technology provider and the customer. However, MSPs should not restrict data access in the process of limiting communications.
Unfortunately, many existing business models add to the complexity of SD-WAN deployment and build barriers for clear communications. SD-WAN service providers need to provide powerful, integrated solutions for connectivity, security and value-added services if they want to participate in the growing SD-WAN managed services market.
How should SD-WAN Services be delivered?
When asked, customers considered SD-WAN portals or dashboards as essential. End-users felt that the centralised information provided more visibility and transparency in network operations. In fact, 80% felt that portals or dashboards were a key feature when looking for SD-WAN service providers.
Organisations want as much control as possible over their network, but they also want the flexibility to outsource some or all of their SD-WAN management. They also want the added benefits that come with increased control over port speeds, applications, IP addresses and service classes, including increased efficiency, reductions in downtime and improved security. Service providers will need solutions that let them deliver the functionality that companies want if they want to succeed in the growing market.
Part of that control is avoiding vendor lock-in when it comes to cloud services providers. Enterprises are looking for managed service providers that offer multiple cloud connections. Early adopters of cloud-based services learned that aligning with a single provider made it difficult to move to another service that offered lower cost or added features. Today, companies want the flexibility to move their applications across multiple public clouds for the best performance and cost-effectiveness.
With more companies entering the SD-WAN services space, service providers must look at how their services compare to their existing and future competitors. Of the seven 2021 trends identified in Futuriom’s survey, four trends were related to value-added services such as centralised management consoles and security integration. The remaining three focused on expanding connectivity to include multi-cloud, wireless and satellite.
If service providers want to effectively act on the SD-WAN opportunity, they need to deploy a solution that provides centralised management for all participants and ensures they have the capacity to add connections as the market demands. Most of all, they need to have a Service Assurance platform that delivers reliable and resilient SD-WAN technologies.
Why do Service Providers Need an SD-WAN Service Assurance Platform?
The short answer is because your customers want it. As more companies move to the cloud and look to technologies that support their need for agile infrastructures, SD-WAN will become commonplace, creating market pressures and adding to the commoditisation of IT services.
However, enterprises understand the importance of value-added services. They also understand the challenges a lack of these services creates. As a service provider, you need to incorporate SD-WAN into your product offering if you want to remain competitive — but this only works if your SD-WAN offering is good, not a half-baked attempt. An SD-WAN Service Assurance platform can provide the following:
If your customers are demanding SD-WAN, they are probably looking at the technology as part of a longer-term strategy. That means a potential loss of business if you are unable to demonstrate a commitment to SD-WAN technologies. If your connectivity sources are limited, customers may look elsewhere. They want the assurance that your company will have the resources to take advantage of improved connectivity without added complexity for their operations.
Existing SD-WAN users want centralised availability of network information. They want to see their network performance from end to end and to have control over how to improve it. They may be willing to outsource operations to reduce the demand on internal resources, but they are not ready to relinquish control. If providers are unable to deliver the single-pane-of-glass view of underlay and overlay connectivity, businesses will look for providers with a comprehensive solution.
Not all SD-WAN implementations are equal. Some solutions are merely tools layered on top of existing infrastructure that does not provide a seamless experience for the end-user. When changes in connectivity occur, problems can arise from existing tools that were not designed to support the new connection capabilities.
Reliability and Resilience
Most organisations understand the need for a reliable and resilient infrastructure; what they have come to realise is exactly how vital those capabilities are. For many, that means revisiting their service level agreements and incorporating Service Assurance for operational performance. If businesses are committing to an SD-WAN service provider, they want assurances that their network infrastructure will operate reliably and will have the resilience it needs to recover from unexpected incidents.
Highlight’s Service Assurance Platform
The SD-WAN market is projected to grow 34% (CAGR) in 2021 with a market value of $3.5 billion in 2022 from $2.6 billion in 2021.3 Its growth is based on the need for agile, high-performance and secure cloud connections. To participate in this market growth, service providers must offer Service Assurance for reliable and resilient infrastructures.
The Highlight Service Assurance Platform offers the transparency that organisations are looking for. It moves reporting and visibility away from a technically-oriented controller for a more user-friendly experience. It grants access to high-level views of LAN, underlay and overlay services without overwhelming the end-user with alerts. The solution is designed to help service providers deliver value-added services that promote growth and deliver the functionality that customers need all while reducing customer churn.
The Highlight platform delivers solutions to the 2021 SD-WAN trends of better visibility, centralised control and multi-cloud connectivity. It is designed to integrate with emerging technologies to ensure a stable platform from which to grow your business. Talk to an expert today and learn more about our service assurance platform and how it can improve your bottom line.
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