Original article written by Redvine and published on MyBroadband, July 2020

A question we are often asked by our customers is, why was SD-WAN created, outside of the obvious benefits it brings to enterprises (cost efficiency; visibility; security and redundancy)? 

We think what they really want to know is, why bother?

Legacy networking solutions like MPLS, traditionally  provided by the large incumbent service providers in each country, aim to tie enterprise customers into lengthy contracts and then try to justify the high costs of such an ‘optimal and guaranteed’ network.

In reality, to the enterprise, this usually meant low-to-zero visibility, complex deployments, inflexible architectures, connectivity and contract lock-in, slow and reactive support to changing user and application needs, coupled with ever-decreasing service levels from the service provider over an extended  period.

The purpose of a quality SD-WAN solution, is to turn that model on its head.

With the proliferation and availability of broadband internet links, a good SD-WAN solution should be completely independent and agnostic to the service provider and link types.

As SD-WAN specialists, we not only help our customers select the right service providers for their businesses, but also deliver managed services that are geared towards optimising their networks, with the latest security architectures.

This allows enterprises to incorporate multiple cost-effective service provider links and shorter contract periods (we even encourage month-to-month where available). We also provide the enterprise with the right tools and dashboards to constantly identify poorly performing service providers and take appropriate corrective action.

This means it is completely counter-intuitive for an SD-WAN solution to be provided by incumbent service providers.

This is about shifting control and visibility to the enterprise and no longer being held hostage by them.

One such solution called Velocloud has been deployed by Redvine engineers across multiple enterprises. They are the Gartner leaders in the SD-WAN segment for the second consecutive year  and we have been proud to be associated with them since our very first Velocloud deployment several years back.

We have since grown, and today, are recognised as having  deployed the most number of VeloCloud customers in Africa, across industries like financial services, mining and manufacturing.

VeloCloud, now part of the VMware and Dell solution suite, secures enterprise and cloud application performance over the internet and we can then further guarantee that by leveraging our network of gateways deployed across  African.

Solutions like these are also easily enabling a remote home workforce by providing an ‘in-office’ experience, with the spike in demand further driven during the current pandemic. However, enterprise-grade user experience can only be achieved if the SD-WAN solution can constantly learn and then remediate performance on low-quality remote links.  Very few SD-WAN vendors can achieve this.  VeloCloud being one of these. 

On a different note, there is a breed of innovative service providers going through a massive digital transformation within their core network.

These providers are also leveraging the power of broadband internet to achieve significant cost savings between their provider nodes. They are achieving this through next-generation SDN software from the likes of 128 Technology.

Leveraging our partnership with 128 Technology, we have also enabled these forward-thinking service providers to uncover new solutions that incorporate capabilities such as self-learning and healing, bandwidth-on-demand, dynamic path selection and secure vector routing.

Of course, change management remains a significant challenge as there are those organisations who feel comfortable in the status quo and are unwilling to adapt to the modern requirements of private and public cloud applications.

Much of this status quo is maintained by and benefits the incumbent service providers and vendors. But if they are to remain relevant in a world where data access and connectivity are fundamental to success, organisations must move out of their comfort zones, break the status quo and embrace the new way of networking.

In this new way, the network has to constantly adapt to the company’s needs, not the other way around. Organisations can then focus on providing innovative solutions and value to their customers through technology, and not be hindered by it.

 It brings us back to SD-WAN’s original purpose –   disruption and shifting control to the enterprise so that they can ultimately be in charge of their path (no pun intended).

This, is why SD-WAN was invented.