What Should you Consider when Picking the Best-Fit Solution

Explore different SD-WAN delivery models and network considerations

With ongoing digital transformation and a fast-changing business landscape, enterprises today need agile, flexible, reliable, and secure networks to operate effectively, efficiently, and economically. Therefore, to survive and thrive in the current business landscape, network considerations can be a determining factor in your enterprise’s viability.

In this article, we will be exploring Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) delivery models and network considerations, so you can choose the best-fit solution for your business needs.

How do telco solutions differ from telco-independent ones?

Significant investment in legacy networks and long-term, often ongoing agreements with infrastructure owners are two key features associated with the traditional, telco-delivered Wide Area Network (WAN). On one hand, with their strong market presence and extensive long-term client portfolios, telcos are often perceived as the safer and easier choice. Yet, there are limitations to this model.

Large investments in legacy infrastructure make it difficult for carriers to change or evolve their offerings. As a result, telco-delivered offerings may impose restrictions on how enterprises can use the network. This also means carriers tend to offer solutions of limited customizability and flexibility to their clients.

In contrast, telco-independent networks, delivered through Managed Service Providers (MSPs), allow for greater customizability and network optimization, while utilizing traditional carriers’ network underlays.

Why are some enterprises unsure about moving away from traditional carriers?

Despite the benefits of the telco-independent approach, some companies are still hesitant to transition away from traditional telco-delivered solutions. The reasons vary and may include unfamiliarity of alternative options available and contract complexity — enterprises may have difficulty managing contracts that expire at different times.

Others may be wary of new technology. In the last 10 years, the networking space has seen several new technologies and frameworks, including SD-WAN, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), cloud, and multi-cloud networking. SD-WAN first emerged in 2014 but gathered steam during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now emerging as a tech platform of choice for global enterprises as it makes for a compelling business case, given increasing traffic due to the use of cloud and analytics, and widespread acceptance of hybrid and remote work.

Things to consider when reinventing your network

The question is, how can business leaders find the best-fit network solution for their organizations? We share five tips to help you reinvent your network infrastructure.

Keep the big picture in mind

For all agreements and contracts, enterprises need to balance resources and costs against the necessary network architecture, infrastructure, and capabilities, and must keep in view the current business landscape. Does architecture allow for scalability? Do the network capabilities align with your business direction and goals?

Additionally, a good SD-WAN provider must be able to establish a high-level comparison of the network’s CAPEX and OPEX costs, so you can make an informed decision.

Review the existing WAN environment

The enterprise must analyze key traffic flows to develop potential migration strategies. The exact network architecture design will vary depending on business requirements and gaps between the current and required network capabilities, and the environment migration strategy should take this into account.

Additionally, it’s important to build with the future in mind. Enterprises must build a sustainable network infrastructure that can support smooth business operations today, but also enable the enterprise to grow and develop going forward.

Determine what features may be needed

Where does your enterprise need network coverage currently and in the future? You need to consider this before building your network, as it could influence how you go about doing it. For example, if your business has global requirements the network must be able to support the coverage expansion your business will require in the future. What is the network going to be used for? As varying business applications have different bandwidth requirements, monitor your enterprise data needs to ensure your network can handle these. For instance, cloud services running business-critical applications will require more bandwidth than locally hosted files.

Identify any other specific features that may be required to meet your business needs, and determine how many people are using the network. Does your network need to serve only internal employees and staff, or external partners as well? By identifying specific network features business leaders can create clear expectations around network requirements and capabilities that are “non-negotiable”.

Ensure strong network security

Given that hybrid and remote work models have been integrated into the work environment in most places, network security and secure interconnectivity are table stakes now for enterprises. Enterprises must ensure consistent security protocols irrespective of where the end-user is located while adhering to security regulations for the regions they are in.

Ultimately, the MSP and the network must continuously evolve — deploying the latest tools, technologies, and best practices to keep ahead of cybercriminals and be able to deal with any red flags proactively rather than reactively.

Ascertain network redundancy

How critical is this network to your operations? If it is truly mission-critical — as is often the case — then your enterprise network architecture must be able to sustain and self-heal through the failure of an individual switch, link or access point. You will need to budget for an increased cost to plan for and build such redundancies into your IT infrastructure. Additionally, going behind the network architecture, a good MSP will have different flavors of management so that you can choose a level of support suitable to your needs.

What’s next in the move to telco independence?

Your enterprise network needs are unique to your context and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For enterprises, the flexibility and customizability of the telco-independent approach are very attractive. That said, it is imperative to understand network considerations and delivery models so you can choose the best-fit solution for your business.

Should you decide to transition to a telco-independent network, the best transition entails gradually decreasing your dependence on a single carrier and leveraging SD-WAN to make your network telco-agnostic. It is important to first prepare your enterprise’s internal operations and expectations for the upcoming transformation. You may want to set out a clear structure to map responsibilities in the new network operating model, as well as best practice guidelines. Also, expect a collaborative onboarding and client training process to help ensure your partnership with the MSP of your choice is easy, smooth, and productive.

If you’re planning to move away from traditional carriers and toward an MSP that can deliver telco-independent solutions to support your business growth and needs, schedule a chat with our team today.