While the advantages of a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) are obvious to those in the networking house, outsiders can sometimes struggle to see the strengths of this new type of technology. Fortunately, Chris Donlan, a Solutions Architect and SD-WAN Evangelist for MicroCorp, is here to break down the challenges plaguing many partners.
“The value of SD-WAN is simple,” says Donlan. “At its core, SD-WAN is an evolution of WAN technologies that allows end-users to overcome inherent network vulnerabilities to meet the new demands of business applications today and increasing migrations to cloud solutions.
Think of it this way: cable networks pose their own challenges with network performance, and telco carrier networks aren’t infallible either. Add in the inherent nature of the internet as an uncontrollable entity, and there’s a lot of opportunity for uncertainty and exposure to poor application performance. SD-WAN empowers end users to bypass these limitations with software-based solutions utilizing multiple WAN connections.
Here are a few of the more tangible benefits SD-WAN offers:
- Connection resiliency
- Network visibility
- Intelligent packet routing
- Rapid deployment
- Improved network management
Despite these benefits, however, partners still face a variety of roadblocks when presenting SD-WAN as the most appropriate solution for customers.
“One of the current challenges of SD-WAN is that it’s new to the market as the SD-WAN ‘package.’ The technologies have been around a while, just not all packaged together,” says Donlan, “so there’s hesitancy to adopt what appears to be new technology. Another issue is that the provider landscape makes it very confusing for end users. It seems every week there is a new provider promoting their SD-WAN. And what do people do when they’re confused? They do nothing; it paralyzes them.”
But it doesn’t have to come to that deer-in-the-headlights situation for your customers, as Donlan explains. Shifting the way you think about SD-WAN, and changing the way you position it to your customers can instantly erase any confusion.
“A lot of people ask me how to sell SD-WAN,” says Donlan. “I tell them, the the important thing to understand is that SD-WAN isn’t an it. SD-WAN doesn’t have features and benefits, and it’s not something you can sell like a phone system. Instead, SD-WAN has the technological capability to allow a business to run much more efficiently. Notice, however I haven’t said it reduces costs.”
Donlan explains how some unenlightened folks may attempt to position SD-WAN as a cost-saving solution for any customer, but the technology doesn’t necessarily boost everyone’s bottom line.
“Unfortunately, it’s a common misconception that SD-WAN can save everyone money,” says Donlan. “That’s not necessarily the case. In one scenario, it might, but in another scenario, it might not. SD-WAN can, however, save you soft costs such as downtime, and it makes networks easier to manage. But partners who start the conversation with ‘It’s going to save you money,’ might not end up where they thought they would.”
So what benefits should partners suggest first when presenting SD-WAN to customers? In Donlan’s view, it largely depends upon the business.
“Connectivity assurance, network visibility and management, as well as application performance are important advantages of SD-WAN,” says Donlan, “but network visibility isn’t going to mean anything to a CEO. However, for somebody whose job it is to manage the network, being able to make decisions based on visibility and analysis is incredibly valuable.”
In today’s data-driven world, there’s endless information at our fingertips. SD-WAN gives you the tools you need to derive insights from that information. “For instance, SD-WAN can show you historical reports about network performance,” says Donlan. “And whether it’s internet or MPLS, you can review your network’s performance during the last 30 days and confront your carrier if they’re not living up to their end of the SLA. But that’s just an example. There’s all kinds of information there that’s available with SD-WAN.
SD-WAN can be confusing for many individuals who aren’t familiar with the in and outs of networking. But by positioning the technology in the right light and explaining in clear terms what your customers stand to gain, SD-WAN should be an easy sell.
Contact MicroCorp and Chris to learn more about how to sell SD-WAN.