by Barry Bazen, President & Co-Founder, Profit Advisory Group
It’s true that SD-WAN has revolutionized how businesses function and how they connect with their disparate branches. It is also true that implementing SD-WAN into a business can result in major savings, but that may not always be the case. There are multiple factors that go into how much you can actually save with SD-WAN such as the number and size of locations and the current network topography of those sites.
There are certain misconceptions around SD-WAN cost reductions that are known but usually discussed quietly and behind the scenes, with one of the major ones being the hidden cost factors of the implementation process. Failure to shed light on this issue – and others – can mislead businesses or leave them blindsided by costs that they were not expecting.
So what are those misconceptions surrounding SD-WAN? I’ll explain below.
Misconception 1: You can save a tremendous amount of money with SD-WAN
The idea of automatic and instant savings is often a false narrative. Savings largely depend on the configuration of your offices and how large they are. If you have mostly small sites currently using MPLS, chances are GREAT that you can save (even significantly) as you can often replace MPLS with much less expensive Broadband or DSL. Conversely, a footprint of large offices still needing MPLS after the implementation of SD-WAN makes cost reduction much harder to achieve. Add in the need for diverse routing on MPLS primary and secondary circuits, PLUS dual dedicated internet circuits and you can easily see very little – if any – savings (although you will have a much more efficient network).
Adding in the costs of special construction, extending demarks for all circuits, and the duplicative charges (simultaneously paying for both your old and new network) for the duration of the install – as well as the hidden charges – have just turned your ROI upside down, at least for year 1. Ongoing license and support costs will also consume much of the savings you realized by replacing MPLS with Broadband. Most vendors and mainstream sources fail to address these components which is where the real economics of the deal are decided.
Additionally, it’s important to note that there is a significant cost difference in actual SD-WAN appliances. Just like shopping for a house or a car, SD-WAN appliances differ greatly. Some are designed for small shops, others are much more robust and include next-gen firewall and enterprise-grade features. This in itself is sure to create major cost differences with the applications themselves.
Misconception 2: SD-WAN can be plugged in and start working on its own
SD-WAN is not zero-touch, despite what your vendor may tell you. In fact, it requires much more work than prospects are often led to believe. The idea that it can simply be plugged in like an Xbox and start working is unfortunately not true. SD-WAN implementation – especially for larger enterprises – requires a great deal of money, time, and energy to get the configuration, design, shipping, and professional services needed for implementation.
It’s also crucial to determine who will be responsible for the actual plugging in and turning up of the circuits, especially if you have a lot of small offices. Will you have enough (technically capable) staff to conduct those plugins? Or will you need to outsource those installs? Answering such questions helps enterprises be better prepared to manage those costs.
Misconception 3: You can put voice over internet/DSL without degrading voice quality
Unbeknownst to many, careful consideration of the type of bandwidth you go through is important as it can determine the quality of your voice performance. While possible to put voice over DSL, which is a shared service with no COS, your voice traffic runs the risk of being crippled by other users. Things such as streaming can also impede voice performance.
This, in turn, can make those cost savings not worth the price of bad voice quality. However, spending a little more money by having dedicated access will help you maintain the quality voice performance you expect.
If you’re seriously considering integrating SD-WAN into your enterprise, contact PAG for more information. We’d be glad to help you! We’ll analyze your infrastructure and determine exactly what you need to reach your goals. At PAG, we’ll be honest about what you’re getting with SD-WAN. Get in touch with us today to get started.