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SD-WAN To The Power Of Three: Enabling A New Generation Of WAN, Cloud Connectivity & IoT Managed Services

By Nav Chander

When you’re in the midst of a seismic industry shift, we, in the tech world, get caught up in a “how we do it” mentality. What’s sometimes lost in translation is the value to customers and partners. The SD-WAN revolution is no different. For today’s blog, I want to focus on the implications of SD-WAN in the context of managed services for service providers. This blog, in part, was triggered by three recent blogs from well-respected industry analysts on SD-WAN and the implications on the evolution of managed SD-WAN services.

The theme for my blog is “the power of three”, expanding upon the three related business opportunities for managed SD-WAN services that these three recent blogs explore:

  1. Managed SD-WAN connectivity
  2. Cloud Connectivity
  3. Internet of Things (IoT)

Managed SD WAN Connectivity

From a revenue and time-to-market perspective, managed SD-WAN connectivity services represent the largest of the three business opportunities. In her most recent blog, Roopa Shree of Frost and Sullivan, shared the results from a recent SD-WAN enterprise survey that highlights how enterprises are likely to purchase a managed service either from an existing network service provider or from an MSP that may not necessarily own the underlying network infrastructure. The survey also highlights speed-to-deployment for new branch sites as the leading reason to deploy an SD-WAN solution.

According to IDC, most of today’s $80B annual managed service revenue is represented by managed CPE, MPLS VPN, IP VPN and Dedicated Internet Access services which have traditionally required dedicated physical network infrastructure and customer premise equipment at all sites.

A managed SD-WAN service is by definition, an overlay solution that utilizes the existing network infrastructure as an underlay. Service provider managed services, like Masergy’s managed SD-WAN service, leverage the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnectSP SD-WAN solution to extend managed WAN services with SLA’s to branch office locations that are not always accessible to existing MPLS offerings by leveraging ubiquitous broadband connectivity to each site. This can yield net new revenues and an opportunity to extend hybrid WAN or SD-WAN services and revenue beyond the service provider’s own physical footprint.

Cloud connectivity

The second driver for managed SD-WAN services is as an enabler of new functionality, such as optimized cloud connectivity or an improved enterprise user experience, particularly for direct access to SaaS applications. Jim Metzler’s blog highlights that a managed SD-WAN service must address performance and customer experience in a world where applications are moving to the cloud, and that network SLAs alone, are not enough in this application-centric world.

The Silver Peak EdgeConnect SP SD-WAN solution is transport agnostic and enables service providers to develop and offer SLAs over any mix of WAN technology where there are two or more WAN services available at each site, including any backup service that may be leveraged by the Silver Peak tunnel bonding feature. SD-WAN solution attributes should ideally address performance, security, visibility and agility that enterprises have to consider for using new cloud-enabled services.

The Cloud Connect use case provides an opportunity for service providers to offer connectivity from enterprise WAN locations and then enable SaaS and IaaS applications to perform with SLAs and over any transport, including broadband.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The third blog written by written by Zeus Kerravala focused on IoT and SD-WAN offers some interesting perspectives. First, IoT endpoints can sometimes be located in very remote and even hostile physical environments (think of a natural gas pipeline or water conduit traversing a desert with little or no population). An SD-WAN solution with zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) and centralized orchestration, designed to run over any network including satellite, 3G, or other wireless technologies, may be the only way to manage the pumping stations, valves, temperature sensors, and overall health of remote pipelines, without having expensive personnel dispatched to these locations.

By leveraging application micro-segmentation within the EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution, service providers can quickly create fine-grained policies that leverage business intent overlays to enable unique security overlays for different classes of machines or industrial equipment for tiered services.

An example of a three-tiered managed IoT service could be:

  • Tier 1: Provides different types of networking reports on the real-time health of the equipment, sensors, and machinery
  • Tier 2: Control and optimize the use of power or cooling for the equipment from a central manager.
  • Tier 3: Collect and analyze the data to control and schedule maintenance service for the remote equipment, including anticipating and adapting to network brownouts or disruptions.

In the pipeline example above, the compressor stations may have a highly secure zone, that is only accessible by an IT manager or admin and chief engineer. The individual valves and sensors may have a second security overlay and that can be accessed by technicians, field engineers and vendors via a secure encrypted link. The video security cameras and temperature sensors may require a third level of security that is accessible to service provider engineers in the NOC, enterprise customer field technicians and enterprise IT via the service provider web portal.  The Silver Peak Unity OrchestratorSP enables this level of flexibility while maintaining continuous compliance with security policies.

As geographically distributed enterprises increasingly employ internet and cloud-hosted applications, service providers are at the intersection of the enterprise’s digital transformation and the future role of their communication networks. Offering tiered, managed SD-WAN services, enables service providers to drive a new routes to monetize the connectivity and optimize application performance across any WAN environment, including the emerging world of managed IoT services. The Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution can serve as a foundation for service providers to capitalize on these new business opportunities and deliver new tiered managed SD-WAN services.

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