How to use Netify for SD WAN cost comparison?

SD WAN Cost Less blog post

Pre-Proposal Quick Quote is a component of the Netify platform developed to request initial provider & vendors costs with UK, US & Global Internet connectivity. When setting budgets, IT teams are faced with a lengthy process to initially engage and then subsequently follow the sales process of SD WAN solutions. And, the time investment required is actually prior to viewing SD WAN costs to set initial budgets.

How are SD-WAN cost savings achieved?

The hype and buzz from certain providers is based on how MPLS is so ‘yesterday’ because SD WAN is more feature rich and capable of saving huge WAN expenditure. The question is, where are the savings achieved? In the main, the pricing reductions are taken from using low cost Internet connectivity where the lowest proposal from in region ISPs are selected.

The more complex answer is based on leveraging public cloud services with inbuilt next generation security, WAN optimisation and the flexibility of using both hardware and virtualised client based applications as a standardised WAN platform. In this sense, the cost savings benefit is often achieved because of WAN transformation which creates a lower cost of ownership via simpler management with advanced features to support cloud applications such as SaaS from one platform.

As with an Internet VPN, SD WAN over the Internet is indeed capable of generating seriously low pricing where the technology is appropriately deployed vs. connectivity which meets business requirements. In this respect, saving money by using low cost Internet providers is nothing new, the Enterprise has been achieving Internet based IP VPN cost savings for many years.

The original vision of SDN surrounded agnostic connectivity meaning it’s not all about Internet based traffic. A single device or client with the capability to support multiple circuit types. If your IT team is considering replacing MPLS based on costs as the main driver then it is important to be aligned on the potential pitfalls, risks and opportunities. Remember that software networking should interface with layer 3 MPLS, the technology is in fact agnostic.

With this said, vendors such as Cisco Meraki are much more aligned with Internet services. There are a number of other factors to take into account when looking at cost comparison such as the addition of managed WAN, Security, UCAAS support and Data Centre.

How Netify can help set budgets via Pre-proposal?

When setting budgets, there are essentially three components Netify Pre-proposal offers.

1. The SD WAN solution

The number of software-defined WAN providers & vendors is increasing with costs across the market varying depending on capability. Netify compares the majority of solutions within the UK, US & Global space with feature set aligned to your requirements.

2. Sourcing connectivity solutions

Above the core SD WAN platform, UK, US or Global connectivity to the Internet pricing is needed. Netify is able to pull in costs from major service providers based either on single backbone or multiple backbone options depnding on the WAN architecture offered. Connectivity includes FTTC & FTTP Broadband, 4G, 5G and Ethernet. Pricing includes diversity and resilience for reliability and business continuity.

3. Managed services

SD WAN solutions are available as fully managed, co-managed or self managed WAN services. Does SD WAN over the Internet result in lower pricing vs MPLS? If your prospective SD-WAN is Internet based, there is a critical difference when comparing the two types of typical ‘Internet’ connectivity associated with Software WAN connectivity.

What is the comparison between Internet vs. Public IP vs. MPLS?

Using the Internet as the basis of you network design The Internet, by definition, is a collection of public backbone networks. With this statement in mind, it is easy enough to understand how cost saving might be achieved. The SD WAN provider sells their hardware or software clients together with the lowest cost Internet connectivity available across each WAN region.

When this strategy is implemented, the following risks occur.

  • Multiple ISP backbones between regions and countries are an unknown from the perspective of latency and jitter which could impact application performance.
  • Service Level Agreements (the SLA) will differ between each provider involved meaning uptime, support fix guarantees will differ as IP traffic routes across the WAN.
  • The SD WAN provider will be required to troubleshoot connectivity issues across multiple providers should downtime occur.

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The Internet is a vastly different proposition vs even a decade ago. Today, backbones consist of high speed, well-scaled traffic engineered bandwidth making it possible to route data across the globe from any device. We all know that generally, our applications work across the Internet for the most part - think Skype for Business, FaceTime and other well used ‘Internet’ based solutions/services used on 3G/4G and public Wifi.

With the above said, when considering corporate traffic between branch offices and HQ sites, the predictability of traffic performance is a critical element to understand. The main driver behind the take-up of MPLS Layer 3 VPN surrounded the ability to prioritise end to end traffic via QoS (Quality of Service), great for Voice & Video apps, with secure privacy as standard.

The privacy with QoS is at the core value and expense of MPLS solitions. With software-based WAN technology, QoS is actually much more feature rich with granular packet priority based on real-time network conditions. If QoS on SD-WAN is superior vs traditional routed MPLS (VPRn) then application performance should be guaranteed?

Is there a software-defined WAN downside because QoS across the Internet is only local?

While SD-WAN is indeed very sophisticated, the QoS marking is lost when traffic traverses the Internet. As an IT Manager, the decision must be made whether or not the Internet (i.e. a collection of networks) is a trusted medium for corporate traffic. The cost of ownership will almost certainly offer a lower entry point into the SD WAN arena but at what cost? As we know, SD-WAN take-up is driven by cost effective public based Cloud services - why use private based MPLS when most of our applications reside on the public side?

While this is certainly a true statement, readers should note that private MPLS and VPLS networks are evolving and now typically offer access to Cloud services such as ExpressRoute for Azure, Amazon AWS and Google Cloud.  Our team have reached the conclusion that Hybrid WAN is the outcome of choice where the right connectivity is used in the appropriate situation based on business value requirements.

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