We have seen a rapid increase in the deployment of SD-WAN by organisations of all scales. It is essential to understand the various methods of SD-WAN deployment. Generally, there are two approaches to deploying software-defined networking: managed SD-WAN providers and do-it-yourself (DIY) methods. In the latter approach, any external service provider is not hired for the deployment of SD-WAN. Instead, it is managed and set up by the company’s own IT teams. Due to developments in business demands, organisations are rapidly moving towards SD-WAN solutions. However, choosing between a managed SD-WAN deployment and a DIY approach can be a tricky decision. Doing-it-yourself (DIY) requires technical IT teams with good experience, knowledge of broadband options, network solution designs, and resources needed, whether tangible or non-tangible. Small-sized enterprises may not be able to leverage the advantages of such technologies. Managed SD-WAN solution therefore offers such enterprises with the management of multiple network connections, security, and critical applications.
DIY vs Managed SD-WAN
Now, the question arises, which deployment approach suits best to an organisation? DIY or Managed SD-WAN? Different enterprises have different needs, goals, and resources available. For example, a large-sized company with a large IT team that has grown over time, and whose security needs are also manifold, is more likely to go for a DIY SD-WAN solution. Such companies host in-house expert IT professionals, aware of the company’s existing structures and security needs. With knowledge of available technologies in the market, the various solutions, and he different SD-WAN vendors, it is easy for such professionals to upgrade to SD-WAN independently without hiring the managed services of any solution provider. Following the selection of SD-WAN product, installation, management, and SD-WAN network monitoring, setup can be done quickly by internal IT professionals. In contrast, a small enterprise, with a small IT team already overburdened with other concerns, would be better suited to a managed SD-WAN solution. By hiring a managed service provider for SD-WAN installation, in-house IT teams of small corporations can focus on their own responsibilities and performance maintenance. Due to lack of experience and inability to handle installation, management, and network monitoring, the DIY approach may in fact be impossible. This is how we can check suitable deployment approaches for any organization.
But a DIY is not necessarily the right choice for big businesses either. For large-sized corporations, connectivity at a large scale also creates a massive web of complexities for in-house IT teams. Key factors to be considered here are the transportation speed of data and the large number of locations to be connected securely. A large volume of data must travel quickly and securely to the data centre for processing purposes; WANs therefore become business-critical and crucial to manage and control.
SD-WAN & Security
In the case of organisations dealing with financial services, the security of data and performance are of crucial importance. Such transactions are made secured through MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching) transport instead of traversing through any public internet. Such financial organisations are much more likely to manage their SD-WAN in-house rather than deferring to an external agency. For security purposes, such organisations also undergo continuous revision of their internal policies in compliance with internal requirements at a large industrial scale. For these large, security-oriented organisations, the in-house DIY approach can be important, but may result in tradeoffs on complexity.
Take these four steps to get started with your DIY SD-WAN. First, you need to select your network design, and may choose either a private traditional network or an internet-based network. Secondly, you need to choose a network technology, whether to go with private (MPLS, ethernet) or public (wireless, broadband, satellite, dedicated internet). Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right option for you will depend on your unique situation. Then, you must figure out broadband options, especially outside large metropolitan areas where service providers become limited and services can be compromised. You may need to look for multiple technology options and alternate carriers to counteract these issues. Finally, looking for the best SD-WAN vendor is another choice to be made. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and online ratings can be helpful to look for a good vendor. After checking their references, you may ask them about their solutions to help you choose according to your needs.
DIY deployment of SD-WAN can raise considerable concerns for in-house IT teams. Along with designing and managing the deployment of the WAN, help desk staff for WAN supply is often required 24/7/365 in some organisations. If the running sites are global and applications are running critically across multiple countries or regions with various carriers, it becomes challenging to deal with. Sometimes, managing the network does not add ultimately add value to the organisation. In the case of public clouds, whether one’s DIY model is supporting the cloud infrastructure and SaaS must also be determined. Different security protocols to reduce risk are also very important. These can be difficult to administer through the DIY approach.
Due to the complex nature of managing an SD-WAN in-house, organisations are increasingly going for managed solutions, no matter the size of the organisation. Providers have extensive experience, comprehensive knowledge, and the sole purpose of many is to integrate SD-WAN solutions with cloud infrastructure. Another distinctly attractive aspect of managed solutions are additional features like value addition, centralised management, ease of use, analytics and reporting, etc. DIY SD-WAN has its significance and security-oriented goals depending upon the organisation within which it is deployed, e.g., a specific in-house SD-WAN implementation in financial organisations. However, these purpose-specific options may often be more complex to implement. Finally, an organisation may find a hybrid model borrowing aspects of both DIY and managed SD-WAN to be the best and most flexible option for their needs.