Enterprise SD-WAN deployment case studies
Image credit: Flickr user Didriks
An enterprise looking to deploy SD-WAN has several routes it can take. The decision will be based on the balance between several considerations:
- IT technical capabilities
- Requirements, can the enterprise live with the SD-WAN service/vendor cookie cutter options available
- Vendor lock sensitivity in terms of support for future needs, cost and risk
The common SD-WAN deployment model
Speaking with enterprises I typically see a pretty common decision process and deployment model. It starts, as any such project, with the definition of the requirements (RFI/P or other types of requirements documents) followed by identification of options for answering these requirements. These options would typically include the option to use a managed service by a service provider, systems integrator or a vendor that offers his solution as a service; The other option considered is to use a vendor and self-manage the deployment.
Further down the road, the enterprise discovers the reality of SD-WAN and the closeness of the services and solutions available today on the market, even in the case of a self-managed deployment, there are many times requirements that can’t be met. Additionally, most of the characteristics of the SD-WAN solution are wired into the selected option with limited or no option for the enterprise to select the building blocks of the solution.
We are the experts
SD-WAN solutions available today on the market are closed solutions. Yes, some provide APIs but these are more on the management side of things, for integrating with other management systems. Since these solutions are closed, they don’t allow the enterprise or service provider to control the building blocks of the solution. This closeness of SD-WAN leaves the vendors with no choice but to be experts in many fields:
- Networking: Routing, tunneling, path selection…
- Application optimization: Identify any application and best optimize and prioritize each and every one of them and any data type (VoIP, Video, transactions…)
- Services: Security, management, automation, network monitoring…
But can they really be experts in all these fields? Probably not.
2 Enterprise case studies
At the last SD-WAN Summit held in Paris I moderated 3 panels, the last one was with enterprises that deployed SD-WAN but their choices for deploying SD-WAN and managing it were rather less common. They selected the D/MIY (Do/Manage It Yourself) option.
First up to present his SD-WAN deployment and lessons learned was David Dot from Interroll. As it looks, Interroll did a lot of homework before starting the process of deploying SD-WAN. The homework started back in 2015 with analysis of their MPLS traffic and network changes for allowing local internet breakout along with looking at the alternatives for realizing their SD-WAN dream.
Only a year later, in 2016, they have started a PoC with one of the SD-WAN vendors and in parallel, started the deployment of redundant broadband lines.
In parallel to the deployment of SD-WAN in 2016-2018, they started gradual dismissal of their MPLS lines.
As mentioned, Interroll has done their homework before getting to this project and their conclusion was that they need maximum control. Although Interroll selected an SD-WAN vendor, they decided to go for a self-managed option and are actually keeping control of as many parts of the solution as possible which are external to the closed SD-WAN product.
There are 2 interesting data points mentioned by David:
Cost reduction of 50% – Since they have selected to take their destiny in their own hands, as much as this is possible when using a closed solution from a vendor, they are also experts in the details of the deployment and management of the system so they have the ability to keep pressing for lower prices and will have an easier task to manage if required to switch a vendor vs. an enterprise that purchases a fully managed and closed solution.
5 times increase in bandwidth – Now this was really surprising to me so I asked David for details of this increase and specifically if all of this increase was due to SD-WAN or not. The answer I got was that this increase includes the natural growth of bandwidth BUT, SD-WAN accounts for about X3 bandwidth increase because all traffic is duplicated and SD-WAN introduces overhead to the packets.
I find this data alarming because there are ways to have a finer grain control over how each part of traffic generated by a given application is handled, but in the reality of closed SD-WAN products, this is not possible. This is one of the things we are working on at the SD-WAN Foundation to solve, how to give better control in the hands of the enterprise and service provider.
A similar approach can be taken regarding cost reduction and cost in general, when enterprises and service providers have better control over the building blocks of their SD-WAN deployment, they can better control cost (and features, differentiation, and value to service providers’ customers). That is another thing we are working on at the SD-WAN Foundation.
On a webinar by Light Reading, Oren Marmur, VP & Head of NFV at Amdocs basically said that SD-WAN is also a threat to service providers because when enterprises look for SD-WAN, they consider a service provider managed service or purchasing a solution from a vendor but they also consider the DIY option.
The second enterprise on the panel was carrefour. I guess there is no need to introduce this large French enterprise. The presentation of Gregory Cauchie from Carrefour was a surprise to all as they have built a team of experts in networking and SW in order to built their own SD-WAN based network. They are of course using various open source components but at the end of the day, it is a full-blown DIY SD-WAN deployment. Their reasoning for this choice was similar to the one of Interroll, Special needs that also require much more control than what is offered by the existing SD-WAN options on the market today.
SD-WAN is offered today as a closed system with limited control available for the service providers and enterprises. As SD-WAN services are maturing and the market is growing this becomes a real issue for service providers due to the lack of their ability to differentiate and the growing competition coming from the same vendors they are reselling. Enterprises are also realizing the risk embedded in the one vendor to rule their network and their inability to adjust the SD-WAN based network to their needs.
- Check if the SD-WAN Foundation is relevant for you
- Learn more about the MEF work on SD-WAN specification
- Never miss a post. Subscribe to TheNewDialtone