CenturyLink

Liz Alton

The Latest in Innovation in the SD-WAN Managed Services Market

As enterprises increasingly focus on improving network performance to support applications and deliver a better customer experience, SD-WAN solutions are in the spotlight. One of the key components of providing ongoing IT support is ensuring that networks have the agility needed to adapt to changing business priorities at speed. In one recent IDG survey, 91% of enterprises that implemented SD-WAN technologies saw an increase in network speed. SD-WAN managed services have come to the forefront as a choice that allows enterprises to capture the benefits of SD-WAN, along with the expertise to make the most of the technology. Solutions offer access to the knowledge needed to design, deploy and manage SD-WAN networks, while letting the enterprise maintain visibility and control as desired.

If you’re curious about SD-WAN managed services and want to learn more about the latest innovations and trends in the field, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

What are SD-WAN Managed Services?

In the past few years, SD-WAN has been one of the hottest networking topics, and the space has evolved to develop a range of products and services to meet diverse enterprise needs. One area that’s matured and seen a sophisticated development is SD-WAN managed services. The 2018 Guide to WAN Architecture and Design notes that approximately half of organizations opt for an SD-WAN implementation other than “do it yourself,” with the most popular alternative being managed services.

NetworkWorld by IDG points out that MEF has created a standardized definition of what SD-WAN managed services programs encompass:

  1. Secure, IP-based virtual overlay network
  2. Transport-independence of underlay network
  3. Service assurance of each SD-WAN tunnel
  4. Application-driven packet forwarding
  5. High availability through multiple WAN links
  6. Policy-based packet forwarding
  7. Service automation via centralized management, control and orchestration

For enterprises with complex set-ups or with small internal networking teams, SD-WAN managed services provide the support needed to design, deploy, configure and manage an SD-WAN for maximum performance. SD-WAN services offer benefits ranging from improved network and application performance and unified, enhanced cybersecurity to simplified network management with greater visibility and control. It’s easy to see why, with this range of available support, Global Data estimates that 74% of enterprises surveyed use managed service experts to operate their network.[1]

Trends and Innovation in the SD-WAN Managed Services Space

More flexible packages: As the SD-WAN managed services space has matured, one benefit enterprises are seeing is a wider range of services. Service levels can be customized not only to an organization’s size and specific needs, but it can be customized with additional services. For example, an organization might need support for the rapid deployment of new locations or enhanced cybersecurity support. If you’re interested in SD-WAN solutions but don’t have the in-house expertise to oversee the solution, you can find an offering on the market that works with your needs.

Design and deployment support: Organizations that require support may need it most during the earliest phases, from assessing their needs to designing, configuring and deploying the SD-WAN overlay technology. Professional and consulting services are available to help enterprises identify their needs, design the solution that best fits their long-term plans and make sure the deployment goes smoothly. From there, managed services can transition to ongoing support at various levels — from cybersecurity to other forms of support.

Streamlined management tools: SD-WAN managed services often include tools that let your own team stay as actively involved as needed. For example, solutions may include a dashboard that’s accessible via a central web portal. Users can allocate bandwidth, identify issues, address user access problems and more. Centralized flexibility allows network administrators and IT leaders the ability to get more done and take advantage of increased visibility.

Analytics and reporting: Every aspect of the IT organization is increasingly driven by data. Today’s SD-WAN managed services solutions offer the support needed for analytics and reporting. Leading SD-WAN interfaces provide real-time insight into what’s happening at the network level and make it easier to turn those statistics into actionable plans.

Cybersecurity features: Enterprises need solutions that help them protect their networks against an increasingly diverse and challenging set of threats. Today’s SD-WAN managed services offer advanced cybersecurity features. These can include the advanced security functionality found in your traditional Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) platforms including URL and IP filtering, Intrusion Prevention/Detection and Anti-Virus/Malware protection, etc.  

Dynamic bandwidth allocation: The needs for specific applications can change from moment to moment. SD-WAN managed services make it easier to dynamically allocate bandwidth. These changes can happen as a result of administrative activation or based on automated tools that use rules-based guidelines to ensure bandwidth allocations stay correctly managed.

Leading SD-WAN Innovation

Keeping a pulse on the pace of innovation in the SD-WAN managed services space is important. CenturyLink is pleased to announce that they’ve been recognized with the Frost Radar® best practices Award for Innovation Excellence in the North American Managed SD-WAN Services Market. Frost Sullivan’s global analysts and consultants conduct extensive research, noting the following about the process: “As part of this ongoing research, we identify companies that consistently develop new growth strategies based on a visionary understanding of the future, and thus more effectively address new challenges and opportunities. This involves extensive primary and secondary research across the entire value chain of specific products.”

SD-WAN managed services offer enterprises the opportunity to take advantage of dynamic, flexible and scalable networking solutions that keep pace with today’s ever-changing business landscape. With managed services, it’s possible to combine these tools with the expertise needed to maximize their impact on the business and empower the network that carries value to their most important customers.

To learn more about the latest innovations in the SD-WAN managed services space, see what Frost & Sullivan are saying about their portfolio of full-featured SD-WAN services

[1] Global Data, SD-WAN: Voice of the Enterprise, October 31, 2017

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