SD-WAN is currently a widespread game-changer to improve WAN optimization for multi-branch organizations. In fact, SD-WAN solutions today are delivered to customers in a variety of service models, mainly “SD-WAN as a Service” or “Managed SD-WAN”, and actually the two are related in some ways. Thus, the article is going to discuss how the two models function, hopefully providing the help for making the right decision of SD-WAN model.

SD-WAN as a Service

SD-WAN as a Service is particular popular among small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) with limited resources to manage their own SD-WAN infrastructure. SD-WAN as a Service works like a SaaS (Software as a Service), as customers pay their service providers in a subscription basis to have SD-WAN services. In other words, SD-WAN services are outsourced to a third-party service provider.

For SMEs, there is no CAPEX involved to build up their own SD-WAN infrastructure. They only have to monitor and configure their WAN through a cloud management interface running on the network channels of the service providers. In fact, whenever the service provider performs a functional upgrade, SMEs can enjoy it right away, without additional investment in the hardware and software development.

Today, SD-WAN as a Service comes in a wide range of options, depending on the needs of the customers. For example, some customers may have to perform some WAN optimization settings on their own, such as traffic routing, monitoring and security instruction across branches, through an exclusively private WAN environment from the service providers. For some corporations, they prefer all their WAN related services and applications handled by service providers so that they can concentrate on their business operations, and this article will address that.

Managed SD-WAN

Managed SD-WAN service model can be considered as a full-package version of SD-WAN as a Service. This model is popular among large corporations who prefer licensed agreement for customizable services and technical supports.

In this model, all the WAN connectivity and applications, even including traffic routing, monitoring, load balancing and policy configuration, may be entirely outsourced to selected service providers. Due to QoS (Quality of Service) and security considerations, Managed SD-WAN model usually requires a certain level of contract, mainly Service Level Agreement (SLA), in order to determine the requirements that the service providers have to meet for their customers.

Currently, many of the global SD-WAN vendors and service providers adopt this model to consolidate all the services, including traffic analysis, hardware performance, application delivery and edge-to-edge security in order to improve QoS, as a motivation for customers to sign multi-year deals with them.

Recommended Hardware

As discussed, SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN have their distinct markets, and companies should make their decisions by taking their IT resources and business models into considerations. However, there is one more consideration. Companies planning to implement SD-WAN shall first ensure flexible hardware options, which play a critical part in the interoperability with other equipments in the real-world environment.

If the service providers use products that are bounded to a specific vendor, it is a sign for another service provider. In other words, the hardware vCPE must be in open architecture to assure flexibility and interoperability. For instance, Lanner Electronics has a wide range of vCPE devices, from entry-level to high-end performance intensive appliances. Lanner’s vCPE hardware has been pre-validated by major SD-WAN vendors around the world to accelerate the deployment process.