Tag Archives: SD-WAN

What is in store for MPLS with the rise of SD-WAN?

SD-WAN Has Not Completely Replaced MPLS

What is in store for MPLS with the rise of SD-WAN?When even a major research operation like Gartner is asking questions like “Is MPLS dead?”, it can be forgiven that some might think multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) has joined the great dumpster of technological history. It’s a funny thing, but most of the people suggesting that MPLS has passed on are largely connected to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) provision. SD-WAN is growing in adoption, but isn’t likely to completely replace MPLS.

So Why Isn’t MPLS Dead, Anyway?

There’s no doubt that SD-WAN has made a lot of gains. But MPLS is still delivering value on several fronts.

Legacy systems. MPLS is increasingly a legacy system. A Nemertes study found that 78% of organizations that have SD-WAN in place won’t be shutting down MPLS operations. Though a substantial percentage plan to restrict it, or otherwise reduce its use, complete shutdowns are unlikely. MPLS was a major investment; why lose the utility of an investment before it’s necessary?

Possibility of hybridization. More and more users are looking at SD-WAN and MPLS as complementary, not competitive, systems. SD-WAN is providing some excellent ways to cut costs by taking some of the heat off an MPLS system. Both together, therefore, can provide cost-effective power for applications that means efficiency without sacrifice.

Clear difference of function. MPLS is commonly seen as a great way to connect two specific points together. But MPLS doesn’t work so well on the global stage, and there’s SD-WAN’s opportunity. That means that MPLS can do well to connect the specialized and the local, while SD-WAN can expand to the wider picture.

A CIO’s balancing act. With MPLS doing so well on one side of the equation, and SD-WAN doing so well on the other, it behooves us to realize that the chief information officer (CIO) might well want to keep both running to ensure maximum smoothness of operation…as well as his or her post. Why drop what works, when a small addition can keep it working?

How Can I Find the Best Mix of MPLS and SD-WAN For My Business?

Some may want to take advantage of MPLS’ unique benefits. Others may want to proceed right to SD-WAN. For those who aren’t sure either way, a good place to pin down your needs is to drop us a line at MicroCorp. We’ve got experience on both sides of the spectrum and can readily help you figure out just the right mix for your operations. So get in touch with us and get started on the best communications profile for your operations.

Partners can collaborate in an educational ecosystem at Ultimate Partner Training.

Get Inside UPT: A Day by Day Account

Have you ever wondered what Ultimate Partner Training is really like? Two MicroCorp Strategic Partner Managers — David Burgeson and Monica Lester — journaled their experiences during UPT last year to give you a taste. Read their real-time, day-by-day accounts to get a feel for what’s in store this year for partners!

Day One:

David:
We kicked off Ultimate Partner Training today, and the classroom is full of attendees from all over the country. The excitement and desire learn about the data center, colocation and security businesses is off the charts! The talent among this group is clearly evident for best practices, and new ideas are being shared as partners are forging new relationships. Looking forward to a great Day 2.

Monica:

As a trusted advisor to many MicroCorp partners, I made the commitment to invest in my own data center and cloud computing education by spending a week engaged at Ultimate Partner Training. It’s day 1, and already I can feel the energy and enthusiasm to learn and succeed in this space of technology from everyone. Looking forward to diving in to the history and evolution of technology, and learning how to assist my partners even better in this space. We will all be chanting, “I love data center” once we see the ROI from our training investment. 

Day Two:

David:

AM session

Day 2 started with Todd Smith presenting on the various business and pricing models within data center providers. Whether the business model is wholesale, retail or both, Todd Smith emphasized that properly negotiating power, space and cooling costs is a must between the customer and provider.  

Paul Carrico continued the training to cloud where everything is “as a Service”: Hosting-aaS, Infrastructure-aaS, Software-aaS, Platform-aaS, and Infrastructure-aaS. When architecting a solution for a public, private, hybrid or hyper-converged solutions, scoping the right requirements is a must. Client engagements begin with what applications are they using and why. 

PM session

Cyrus One, VxChnge, Cologix, Telstra, Level 3 and Greenhouse Data are sitting on the Hot Seat Panel. Tough questions from the audience! Usually providers talk about their strengths, but a question was asked what their weaknesses are. I can’t go into detail here but it was rather interesting.

Scott Kelly with Windstream is now talking about SD-WAN, and he says “All roads lead to the cloud:  Rapid growth in data, apps and connected ‘things’.” 

Some great things about SD-WAN:

  • Money to be made with SD-WAN:  $6B by 2020 per IDC.
  • Gives complete visibility
  • Real-time control
  • Plug and Play ability
  • Active/active connectivities
  • Any type of access
  • Scalable
  • Goal of 100%

But the realities are that SD-WAN:

  • Will not replace MPLS
  • Cannot guarantee QoS
  • Is not WAN optimization

Monica:

Not all data centers are created equally. Today I gained a better understanding of the differentiators amongst our data center providers. Telstra, Cologix, Xchange, Greenhouse Data, Level 3, CyrusOne….just to name a few from our line card. Now I am empowered to help my partners better in matching the right provider for their clients. A fun fact I learned was the least expensive data center space can be found in Quincy, Washington. Why? Lowest cost for power at 3.5 cents!!! 

Day Three

David

AM session

A contest for How to Frame Questions and Team 5  is in the lead. This is proving to be harder than it appears….Teams 3 and 4 are catching up.

Jeff, founder of Bigleaf now talking about SDWAN. The SDWAN market is getting crowded with providers trying to position themselves uniquely. Jeff says get out of speed and feeds discussion, but what are the applications?

He says — though SDWAN is causing different conversations about MPLS, MPLS was disrupted by the data center and cloud. SD-WAN and network security are inter-related. To stay relevant, SD-WAN and security must be part of any technology conversations.

The agent channel has a great opportunity to be the trusted advisor for their clients with SD-WAN and to make money on it.

PM session

Windstream is doing a live demo of their SD-WAN service. The management portal is collecting data on everything and touching their network. 11+ Android devices are hitting a non-productive website. He just disconnected a circuit while on a live VoIP call, and the failover was seamless. This is a must-have for customers who run a lot of apps on the cloud.

Monica:

We have reached the topic of SD-WAN, presented by Bigleaf! This segment is most important to maintain my relevance in the marketplace. With the movement to the cloud, an alternative for MPLS was desired, and SD-WAN allows us to build a solid network to many locations, hosting vital applications and enhancing effectiveness. I endorse Bigleaf as a solid provider — they go the extra mile for my partners to help them gain comfort with this new technology and will do the heavy lifting to provide the solutions to the end-users. 

 Day Four

David:

Just completed our team role-playing competition based on actual customer situations. Each team consisted of 3 attendees and there are 6 teams. The objective was to dig for information from the judges and apply what we learned to identify SDWAN, data center, colo, security, hosting, and cloud applications. We are awaiting to see which team won. 

This was the most interactive training ever. Thoroughly enjoyed the people here.  As we conclude UPT, the spirit of partnership is alive and well. Relationships matter!

 Monica:

It’s the last day of UPT, and it’s the first training of my career where I can walk away feeling as though I have the knowledge, resources, excitement, and hunger to aggressively help my partners tackle this segment of the market and succeed in new revenue in the DC space.

Today was a competitive day where we displayed selling skills coupled with knowledge gained on solutions in a real-world customer scenario. As part of Team 5, we came in 2nd place. Practice and experience leads to success in all aspects of life. The practice I’ve learned from UPT is priceless, and — not to mention — what a great group of folks to spend my week with!

Contact MicroCorp today to learn more about Ultimate Partner Training.

SD-WAN isn't going anywhere any time soon.

You’re Not Too Late for Your Share of SD-WAN Sales

SD-WAN isn't going anywhere any time soon.It’s easy to feel left behind on a lot of topics these days. Wish you’d bought a pile of bitcoin back in 2011? Wish you’d bought Google at the IPO? Being left behind is an easy state to be in, but the good news for those looking to make sales in software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is that the good times haven’t really started rolling yet. There’s still plenty of room to make a mark in this market, with a little of the right information.

Why Isn’t It Too Late to Get in on SD-WAN Sales?

There are several reasons.

There’s no set blueprint for sales. If conditions had evolved to the point where everyone who wanted SD-WAN already had it, then there would have been sure protocols for making sales, derived from patterns made by successful sales attempts. But even as recently as June, groups like VeloCloud were noting that there wasn’t an established blueprint for sales, which means there’s still clearly room to run.

Growth still forecast. Several separate reports from several different market research firms agree on one point: the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of SD-WAN does not fall to zero after 2017. If the growth rate is not stopped completely, then there is room for you to sell.

New developments. If there is to be growth in the market, then developers in the field will pursue their own slice of it. Changes in hardware and software, and the interactions between the two, will still be called for. Replacements for broken systems will be needed, and newer, faster, and better tools will emerge. Those systems will need to be sold, and that means opportunity in selling.

Die-hards will hold out. SD-WAN is often regarded as a good way to replace multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) systems. There are still MPLS users out there, who haven’t made the jump yet for several reasons. Maybe the systems “still work.” Maybe they’re waiting-and-seeing until the new tax cuts arrive to see what effect that has on business. Whatever the reason, the old ways are still in play, and that means opportunity for the astute.

How Do I Get Started Selling SD-WAN?

If you’re looking to sell SD-WAN, then the way to start is by contacting us at MicroCorp. We have an extensive partnership system that opens up access to a range of services and supplementary materials to help you get the best chance at success in this still-growing field. So just drop us a line to get started.

There is still time to know how to sell SD-WAN.

SD-WAN: Don’t Worry, You Haven’t Been Left Behind

There is still time to know how to sell SD-WAN.It’s easy for MicroCorp partners to feel like they’ve missed the SD-WAN train. While seeming like it’s all the rage, it is actually here to stay, and if you haven’t made the effort to educate yourself on the ins and outs of the technology (or SDN, for starters) then of course you’ll be daunted. But, it’s not too late, and here’s why.

The Myth of SD-WAN

When I give talks on the topic, I ask the room: “How many of you are talking about SD-WAN?” Everyone raises their hands.

Then I ask: “How many of you have quoted an SD-WAN deal?” A portion of the group sits down.

Then: “How many people have installed and gotten paid on SD-WAN deals?” Usually, out of 200 people, 5 people are left standing after that question.

Therein lies the hype versus the reality. Yes, it’s the future. Yes, everyone’s talking about it. But only a small number of people have made deals because SD-WAN has failed to productize thus far.

SD-WAN has taken a while to adopt because it is similar to the cloud in that few people truly understand it and don’t feel comfortable bringing it up with customers. Everyone wants to do something with the cloud, but until recently, no one knew how to put it to work, and this is the conundrum of SD-WAN that MicroCorp partners need to know.

The Need to Productize

Business owners are already buying internet circuits, phone service, and they need to transition to hosted, or move their servers to the cloud, etc. SD-WAN is the next transition for MicroCorp partners already selling those services. But they need to understand where SD-WAN comes in and what its benefits to the customer are.

People have realized what the business case for cloud is now. SD-WAN is approaching that stage. Asking people if they want SD-WAN will fall flat if you don’t explain the business case in real terms. Provide examples of real use-cases such as a gas station’s network goes down and they can’t run credit cards. Every minute lost is tons of revenue. And if that company has multiple branches? 10-fold loss.

Businesses rushed to the cloud without realizing what that connection really means if it goes away. SD-WAN is an actual solution to the difficulties of the cloud transition.

The key element MicroCorp partners can embrace in order to sell SD-WAN is to demonstrate the real need. SD-WAN enables vital business services to stay up when an outage happens so they don’t lose tangible amounts of revenue.

Want to know more about how to bring the most innovative technology in the channel to your partners and customers? SimpleWAN and MicroCorp are educating partners every day on how to connect customers with SD-WAN. Talk to us today to learn more.

The right vendor designs SD-WAN according to the needs of the client.

Demand Customization in Your Clients’ SD-WAN to Ensure Success

The new enterprise has arrived. No longer are employees required exclusively to arrive at a set start time at a physical location, find comfort in a cube and churn out unrealistic outcomes. Today, technology has made flexibility possible through the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications that help companies achieve success regardless of physical location. As such, professionals now work from home, the road and any other location that supports their focus on work-life balance.

The drive to implement software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) solutions is facilitated by the demand for improving branch office connectivity and mobile capabilities among those branch employees who must be able to be productive on the go. Plus, companies are looking for solutions that enable them to integrate existing services that meet the requirements of the customer base. The best way to accomplish this is with custom installations, initiated by experienced teams.

To truly get the benefits associated with SD-WAN, it’s also crucial that licensing is simple, and all-inclusive. This simplified connectivity ensures features are more easily configured to meet the needs of the customer, without adding to the price. The solution also needs to incorporate access to hybrid networks to solve connectivity challenges at each location. Wireless, of course, is a must as it is no longer a back-up service, but instead a key element of productivity.

Still, there are a number of different elements inherent in the operation of the multi-location company that must be considered before SD-WAN can be implemented and start to deliver value. For instance, a particular company understands they are ready to make the move to SD-WAN, but has long relied on multiple carriers to support branches across many states. In order to modernize the network, simplifying connectivity and network management is critical, while keeping application performance top of mind.

The best approach is to study the needs and usage patterns of each independent branch so as to truly understand the needs that must be met in order for SD-WAN to deliver value. Then, in the process of designing the right SD-WAN development plan, it helps to consider best practice applications that help meet the needs of the individual users. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies, for instance, help to leverage existing services, while preserving device and usage habits employees already have.

Working in collaboration with internal IT and IP teams is also essential, as they will bear the responsibility for the SD-WAN and anything supported through this new deployment. Their understanding, buy-in and support are essential to any project with the primary goal of changing the network so as to support leading-edge technology and new ways of doing business.

This is where MicroCorp comes in. Our experience in the industry revolves around understanding the needs of our clients through their lens, not ours. When we partner with you to deliver solutions to your clients, they’re focused on benefits and not processes. We’ll work with you to design solutions that best meet your clients’ needs, and you determine the best approach to customization through key collaborations. Contact us today to start those conversations.

Bigleaf’s John Hogan talks SD-WAN, Sales, and Advice for Channel Partners

As SD-WAN makes its way around the channel — challenging forecasts for MPLS, sales, and expertise — we reached out to John Hogan, VP of Partner Sales & Business Development for Bigleaf Networks to give us his scoop on SD-WAN as it stands today. We talk sales opportunities, the types of SD-WAN, and advice for partners. Check out the interview below:

Keenan: With all the buzz out there about SD-WAN, what are some of the essential points partners have to have in their arsenal when selling SD-WAN?

Hogan: I know the SD-WAN space can seem daunting and confusing – even for partners that consider themselves to be industry veterans. My best advice for partners looking to become educated on their SD-WAN options is to categorize the different suppliers into a few major categories, and then work with their MicroCorp support team to build a relationship with at least one solid player in each category.

At Bigleaf, we’ll be the first to admit that there really is no single SD-WAN vendor that’s the right fit for every customer. So it’s important to have a few options ready to go based on the customer’s applications and network architecture.

Here are three SD-WAN supplier categories that we tend to keep track of at Bigleaf:

Carrier-based SD-WAN platforms

  • Major focus: SD-WAN as an MPLS enhancement or MPLS replacement
  • Includes a Gateway component for cloud-based traffic

Limitations:

  • Typically replaces firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Ties your SD-WAN sale to a specific carrier
  • Support experience can be challenging due to broad product set, and the fact that the carrier is re-selling another vendor’s SD-WAN platform

Premise-only solutions (no Gateway component)

  • Major focus: Built mainly for site-to-site connectivity

Limitations:

  • Typically replace firewalls (complex sales process, longer install)
  • Not as strong for cloud-based traffic due to the lack of a Gateway
  • Some require large, upfront equipment purchases

Firewall/Cloud Agnostic (this is Bigleaf’s sweet spot!)

Major focus: Easy self-installation of SD-WAN for cloud-based traffic

Onsite router deploys outside the customer’s firewall (less complicated install)

Cloud Gateway network setup for any cloud-based traffic or site-to-site VPNs

Limitations:

  • Primarily designed for internet connections (not a fit for load-balancing with MPLS or Private-Line circuits)

Keenan: Are there any commonly misunderstood points about SD-WAN partners should be aware of?

Hogan: One of the greatest misunderstood points about SD-WAN is the common belief that SD-WAN is primarily designed as an MPLS enhancement or replacement. These talking points have been driven largely by the major carriers.

Frankly, if you’re a carrier with a large base of MPLS revenue, it’s going to make sense to target SD-WAN technology (and marketing) towards the concept of leveraging SD-WAN intelligence to load-balance existing MPLS networks with broadband to build a hybrid environment for site-to-site connectivity. And that can be a great use of the technology for an enterprise customer with a large IT budget and a long-term need for more traditional, site-to-site architecture.

At Bigleaf, we’re more focused on leveraging SD-WAN technology as a more robust, cost-effective access to cloud applications. We call our technology “Cloud-First SD-WAN”.  We chuckle when we hear people say that SD-WAN is disrupting MPLS. In our view, the cloud disrupted MPLS well before SD-WAN was popular.

For many customers that are migrating applications out to the cloud, their legacy network architecture no longer makes as much sense. Their major connectivity needs have essentially migrated from a hub and spoke model to a remote-site-to-many approach. Efficient access to hosted VoIP, SaaS, AWS or Azure, etc. have become more important than access to an HQ or single data center. Any remaining site-to-site connectivity needs can be addressed with VPNs that will always remain healthy and stable thanks to SD-WAN’s prioritization and seamless failover capabilities.

Clearly, the Bigleaf SD-WAN focus plays out more in the small to mid-sized customer base, and the carrier SD-WAN focus plays out more in the enterprise space.

Keenan: What’s the best way partners can educate themselves about SD-WAN and how to sell it?

Hogan: Like anything in telecom, it really comes down to a combination of learning the key technology, but then also building a good working relationship with a few key suppliers. Good technology is never enough by itself. It’s the combination of technology and good service that makes customers happy.

For MicroCorp partners, I would highly recommend the Ultimate Partner Training Series for an opportunity to do a deep dive on SD-WAN, data center and advanced hosted solutions. Bigleaf has participated in several of these events in the past couple years, and they accomplish both the education component and the vendor relationship component. Or, just schedule a personalized training call with Bigleaf Networks, and at least one vendor from the three major SD-WAN categories noted above.

Lastly, in order to truly understand the capability of SD-WAN, you need to work through a few real-life customer implementations to experience the installation process and hear your customers’ feedback first-hand. All of our order forms have a 30-day money-back guarantee, but we’re also happy to provide a 30-day free trial when needed to allow customers to test our technology risk-free. Use these tools to help close some early wins!

Keenan: How should partners look at MPLS now that SD-WAN is encroaching on its market?

Hogan: With any major technology migration, there are some that will see new technology as a threat. And others that will see opportunity in the evolution. MPLS is not likely to disappear anytime soon. But I think many people agree it will die a slow death over a period of several years. So it’s important to build an SD-WAN strategy moving forward. That strategy can be multi-pronged:

  • Begin working on a proactive migration plan for all of your MPLS customers that will play out for several years. That plan won’t likely mean getting rid of MPLS for all customers. Some cloud-centric customers may certainly replace MPLS with an SD-WAN-enabled internet solution. While others may incorporate more of a hybrid MPLS/broadband approach. Either way, the future of your customers’ WANs are likely to incorporate an SD-WAN component in some degree or fashion in the next few years.
  • Don’t forget about the cloud! One of the greatest benefits of SD-WAN technology is more cost-effective access to cloud applications that is carrier and physically diverse. Every SD-WAN sale is a potential pivot-point into future cloud application sales for that customer. Treat your SD-WAN sales as an excuse to have a conversation with your customer about their current and future application needs — and how those needs can be met through future cloud migrations — and you have a built-in roadmap to a cloud-centric business plan for your company. Every SD-WAN sale results in a purpose-built roadway to the cloud, so help your customers use it!
  • Embrace the “every quote” opportunity with SD-WAN. The market is quickly hitting a breaking point where most businesses can no longer afford to work with a single, dumb internet pipe. With the increasing adoption of cloud-based applications, site-to-site VPNs, SaaS, O365, etc, the internet has become a lifeline to most businesses. So educate customers on SD-WAN as a part of every internet/VoIP/cloud quote that goes out the door. It will increase your ARPU and help combat the eventual decline of MPLS revenue.
SD-WAN answers many of the challenges posed by security that demands a higher focus on networks.

SD-WAN Offers Answers to Network Security Problems

SD-WAN answers many of the challenges posed by security that demands a higher focus on networks.Enterprises often take a layered approach to security, deploying solutions for network, compute and application. With so many solutions increasingly being network-centered, such as Internet of Things components and cloud technology, many organizations are recognizing the need for a network-focused security strategy. In many cases, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is able to address the challenges of network security.

Networks are the area to which there’s been the most change in recent years, so it makes sense that security is more advanced in this realm. Here are five recommendations for implementing secure SD-WAN:

  1. Add encryption to your WAN transport. When they choose SD-WAN, companies have access to low-cost broadband and can encrypt all Internet flow to each site without the need for administrators to make manual configuration changes to routers after each change to the network. It’s also important to note that SD-WAN is more secure than most private IP services because there can’t be a breach to the data even if the carrier network is threatened.
  2. Make sure your cloud connection is secure. It doesn’t matter how secure your client’s public cloud service is, whether they’re accessing Amazon or Salesforce. Every time they transfer sensitive data over the Internet to get to the cloud service, it’s an opportunity for a security breach. The SD-WAN provider may offer granular Internet breakout so that your client can distinguish between security mandates to move traffic through particular secure gateways. They’ll also have next-generation firewalls stationed at your branch or in the cloud or data storage center. All of the inherent risks associated with cloud solutions is mitigated by SD-WAN.
  3. Cover local branch security. Each of your client’s branch offices will require security, especially in cases where there is direct Internet access. The cost of buying and configuring physical appliances for each site can be prohibitive, and this method requires an engineer to travel to each site. SD-WAN allows your client to deploy VPNs, firewalls or WAN optimization from a central location by using network functions virtualization. This makes it convenient to provide security coverage for each branch location.
  4. Meeting requirements for compliance. The rules governing healthcare and financial services, including HIPAA or PCI data security fit perfectly with SD-WAN technology. SD-WAN allows the enterprise to create virtual overlays to segment applications traffic.
  5. Create secure segmentation. Segmentation allows the IT team to isolate applications traffic for security purposes or to work with specific performance requirements. While legacy networks could do this, it was time-consuming and challenging. Segmentation with SD-WAN allows for consistency of configurations and best practices defined and enforced through business intent policies.

With security becoming a growing IT cost, MicroCorp anticipates more customers selecting an SD-WAN technology to create a secure and manageable cloud-based environment. As the demand for more agile, cloud-based WAN-technologies accelerates, we continue to provide focus to the variety of WAN technologies available. Contact us today to find out the best solution for your business.

Talking Unified Communications Trends with Star2Star

Despite the proliferation of unified communications (UC) technologies — and the partners selling them — we continue to see some partners slow to adopt UC. Why? And what are some trends in UC that partners should watch out for as technologies like SD-WAN advance? We asked these questions, and more, of Colin Johnston, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Star2Star Communications. See our exchange below to get the scoop on what Johnston has been noticing in the channel, and how Star2Star reacts.

Keenan: What are some of the more prominent trends you are noticing with unified communications lately?

Johnston: The largest and most recent impact on the unified communications space would have to be SD-WAN, which has taken the industry by storm. As an innovative solution provider, Star2Star has already been implementing voice-optimized traffic shaping since its inception through our patented StarBox® Cloud Connection Manager (CCM), so it’s interesting to see how SD-WAN has become such a hot topic. The ability to now incorporate a solution that handles all data traffic is a great step forward for UC.

Keenan: How would you address partners that have not yet adopted UC?

Johnston: Partners that are currently managing their customer networks and not actively selling a UC solution are leaving money on the table. In almost every case, partners that sell UC can offer a superior service to their customers at very competitive price points that allow for significant revenue margins.

As our world moves toward the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, the choice that some channel entities will have to make becomes clearer. Sell UC; it has and will continue to become the way we communicate and stay connected in the future.

Keenan: How is unified communications impacting other technological developments in the channel?

Johnston: Communication Enablement Platforms (CEP) have become a huge springboard for growth in tech. They encompass everything from the Internet of Things (IoT) integrations to Point of Sale (POS) software. It seems like every technology solution is somehow attempting to incorporate unified communications into their various platforms.

UC has become the glue that connects modern business platforms together. It allows for better customer service, more informed decisions, and better data and metrics to plan and predict company decisions. And there’s much more than just these benefits; the true potential of Communication Enablement Platforms has yet to be seen.

Keenan: Are there any specific trends in security you’re noticing?

Johnston: There has been a focus on security from the very beginning with UC. Take our StarBox® CCM: it acts as a firewall and monitors data traffic as it goes through the system. Our new hosted solution, StarSystemTM Hosted, also comes with built-in security with TLS encryption for call data. In the general market, the recent developments with utilizing blockchain for voice data also come to mind when thinking of specific security trends.

SD-WAN

The Complications of Hybrid SD-WAN

SD-WANSoftware-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is creating a significant buzz in the IT world, but despite its myriad benefits, many companies that implement it aren’t doing so as a replacement for multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). Instead, SD-WAN is being added to existing MPLS configurations to eliminate complexity and create differentiation.

The benefits of implementing SD-WAN are numerous, including cost savings, improved performance and agility, and better security and reliability than what can be achieved through an MPLS system. Many companies are adding SD-WAN into their existing MPLS systems rather than switching them, creating a hybrid SD-WAN situation.

The goal with these hybrid systems is to capture the lower costs for Internet traffic, and, in theory, to eliminate complexity in the network. What ends up happening, instead, is that enterprises end up with more complexity than they anticipated. Many providers of SD-WAN are now bundling managed services in a way that sidesteps a more complex configuration.

For instance, when a company has an existing MPLS system, and they decide they want to introduce another type of connection either as a backup or to access a lower-cost bandwidth, it can create some complications. The new connection requires a reconfiguration to achieve the goals the company is after to get the desired policy.

There are many determinations that have to be worked through before an enterprise can go live with an SD-WAN hybrid. The company has to decide which type of Internet traffic is set to go over certain lines by default, and which conditions will dictate another line (jitter, delay, latency). If a line is down, it must be determined how the Internet traffic will be prioritized until additional lines are available.

In this situation, you’re going from a single link where questions are simply of a quality of service (QoS) nature, to a conversation about load balancing and how to route Internet traffic.

Another topic that comes up with clients that want to implement an SD-WAN hybrid solution is the elimination of hair pinning with Internet traffic. An SD-WAN component allows traffic to flow freely between the cloud and the enterprise, but no longer between branches of the enterprise so it offers a much better situation for Internet traffic flow.

The introduction of SD-WAN is still relatively new, so providers are still getting a feel for the preferences of their enterprise clients in how SD-WAN fits into an existing MPLS configuration, or if there’s a desire to fully replace the MPLS. In many situations, a bundling of managed services strikes the right balance without introducing unnecessary complexity.

Talk with MicroCorp about creating customized managed services for SD-WAN for your clients. We can walk you through every consideration and benefit for including SD-WAN in the network setup for a particular enterprise. Give us a call.