Managed or DIY SD-WAN? Survey Reveals Lessons from Early Adopters

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When IT decision-makers research new technologies or products, the opinions of their peers often carry more weight than recommendations by vendors and industry pundits.  That’s why Frost & Sullivan is sharing the results of our 2018 SD-WAN survey. The survey provides insights from IT leaders across a range of industries and company sizes about their SD-WAN decisions and deployments.

One of the most interesting and unexpected conclusions of the 2018 SD-WAN survey is that the early adopters would do things differently next time.   Today, the majority of today’s SD-WAN deployments (63%) are of the “do it yourself” variety, in which the business procures, installs, and manages the physical or virtual appliances, network links, and management software.  But when those who are currently managing their SD-WAN on their own were asked how they preferred to deploy their SD-WAN solution, 82% chose a managed service. 

Their change of heart is likely based on the challenges they have experienced, and perhaps from talking to colleagues who have deployed a managed SD-WAN service.  SD-WAN can be complex, and managing the SD-WAN in a way that delivers maximum business benefits requires high levels of expertise and attention.  A few examples from the Frost & Sullivan survey offer clues as to where the “DIY” deployments may be failing to meet expectations for some enterprises: 

  • 79% of those who have deployed a Managed SD-WAN say they benefit from better utilization of network links via an active-active configuration; that percentage is just 70% among DIY users.
  • 74% of Managed SD-WAN customers cite “achieving superior WAN and application performance” as a top benefit. For those who have deployed DIY solutions, the percentage is significantly lower, just 64%.
  • 60% of Managed SD-WAN users say the service helps them deploy new branch sites faster, compared with just 53% of DIY SD-WAN users.

Of course, as a whole, the “do it yourself” deployments are still delivering substantial business value.  In each of the cited examples, more than half of all respondents said they achieved important benefits.  They also have the advantage of control over their environment—cited as the primary driver for selecting a self-managed option.  Thus, for those who have the on-staff resources and expertise to design, implement, and manage an enterprise-wide SD-WAN deployment, a self-managed solution is a valid option.

But many businesses will struggle to configure and manage their SD-WAN on their own – and for these organizations, managed services will be the right deployment option.  Top drivers for selecting managed SD-WAN services include aggregation of multiple network providers (cited by 75% of respondents); faster troubleshooting and service restoral (cited as an important driver by 74% of respondents); simplified vendor management (cited by 73%); and provider accountability in the form of a service level agreement (cited by 73%).

So what type of SD-WAN solution is best for your business?  To learn more from your peers, download the 2018 Frost & Sullivan SD-WAN Survey Report, available here with a special section for CenturyLink visitors.   And please view the on-demand webinar presented by Frost & Sullivan, CenturyLink, and Cisco, Managed vs. DIY SD-WAN: Which is Right for Your Business?

This blog is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user's own risk. CenturyLink does not warrant that the information will meet the end user's requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user.

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