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Service providers can look to SD-WANs to deliver new offerings to SMBs.
October 6, 2016
In an effort to seek out additional revenue streams and move up the customer value chain, service providers are taking a stronger focus toward the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market, where 24/7 service availability from anywhere and on any device is critical. To better attract, retain and meet the ever-changing requirements of their SMB customers, service providers are looking to cloud-based technologies and services.
The SMB cloud business is especially important to service providers as they evolve from providing classic connectivity technologies and infrastructure as a service to delivering bundles of cloud services comprised of business productivity and other solutions. SMBs want cloud services that support or enhance mobility, creating more flexible work environments. In short, service providers are transforming traditional network services procurement processes to cloud-based "pay-as-you-go" models in order to respond to the need for dynamic networks that support XaaS.
This increased deployment of cloud, SaaS, video and mobile applications has presented challenges to IT and business managers who need to provide high‐quality WAN services to branch offices. While deploying and managing the WAN has become more challenging and costly as traffic flows decentralize, service providers can leverage software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies to offer a cost-effective, secured connected branch office experience that can open up new opportunities in the SMB market.
Virtually Connecting Branches
A software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offers compelling advantages for organizations that have distributed, yet equally critical, branch operations. These benefits can include improved business agility and application performance and lowered bandwidth costs. SD-WANs provide the benefits of MPLS-based WANs at a much lower cost per node or branch office, offer lightweight replacements for traditional WAN routers and are agnostic to WAN transport technologies.
Based on business and application policies, SD-WANs allow for:
- Efficient and dynamic load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections.
- Secure VPNs as well as the ability to integrate additional network services and offload internet-destined traffic closer to the edge of the network.
- Providing cost-effective WAN services to SMB segments, helping these businesses increase their out-of-region coverage.
- Creating better stickiness with business customers by providing bundles that integrate SD-WAN services with connectivity services, value-added services and applications.
To maximize revenue potential from enterprise customers, service providers need an overarching integrated solution that enables real-time service management and operations, allowing for the automated creation and deconstruction of virtual functions with provisioning, fulfillment and assurance and monetization functionality. SD-WANs create a compelling business case for service providers, but their success will depend on an underlying closed-loop, policy-based orchestration capability that can support:
- Nested loops and dependent architecture to accommodate simultaneous changes.
- Network awareness that accurately anticipates the effects of configuration changes.
- Automatic configuration monitoring of all connected devices based on configurable run-time policies.
- Closed-looped policy-based service fulfillment and assurance.
- Real-time monitoring and reporting to ensure application SLAs are met for enterprise customers.
The success of SD-WAN will depend on an underlying closed-looped orchestration system which can give service providers the ability to deliver additional value to SMB customers and become an indispensable partner going forward.