Sure, there are many, many benefits of utilizing SD-WAN that go well beyond cost savings, but the dollar signs tend to get the most press (big surprise). But savings aren’t limited to costs reflected solely within IT budget line items―they stretch far and wide, and include, as a byproduct, many soft cost savings that organizations of all sizes, and from all industries, are currently enjoying with SD-WAN.
Hard Cost Savings
Hard cost savings are certainly the easiest to calculate; they’re the ones reflected in the lower bills you’ll receive from your MPLS provider, like AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Spectrum, et al. Connecting branch offices with MPLS isn’t cheap, and provisioning them can also be expensive in terms of time. New circuits or upgrades can easily take weeks to accomplish, and who has time for that? Sure, MPLS offer excellent QoS (quality of service) and is a very stable, reliable technology, but SD-WAN has come a long, long way to address requirements like QoS. And if offices, especially those of the smaller, remote variety, aren’t running real-time applications and are accessing them via the Cloud, SD-WAN is ideal.
For SD-WAN, another Internet circuit is needed to run as a companion to your existing one. And if you haven’t noticed, the cost for dedicated, high bandwidth Internet circuits is crazy inexpensive, especially when compared to an MPLS circuit that delivers comparable bandwidth. Neither Internet connection stands by idle, and both are hard at work to satisfy your networking needs. SD-WAN automatically looks for, and steers your traffic around, bottlenecks in the network that could cause jitter, latency and, of course, dropped pockets.
Having a dedicated router at a branch office might make more sense from a cost standpoint if it’s supporting dozens, even hundreds, of employees, but it becomes more and more cost-prohibitive as those numbers go down. Moving to a SaaS (software-as-a-service) model means getting away from upfront, capital expenditures and moving them to a more budget-friendly, pay-as-you-go cloud model. That’s not to say that new hardware doesn’t need to be deployed for SD-WAN, but SD-WAN routers are highly flexible, simpler (they include traditional routing and firewall capabilities) and less expensive than a traditional router. Oh, and they’re much smaller―for instance, Viptela’s SD-WAN vEdge routers are all 1RU (less than 2” tall). Also, they’re compatible with traditional routers, so there’s no need to yank them out and set them next to the dumpster just yet.
The Harder-to-Calculate Soft Cost Savings
Soft costs are often overlooked, primarily because they’re harder to calculate. But there’s no question that SD-WAN, if implemented correctly, can result in a lot of soft costs (like those listed below) that should definitely be calculated and taken into consideration.
Consider the productivity your organization can lose waiting for an MPLS circuit to be delivered or upgraded. And there’s also the potential for network downtime due to the provisioning of an MPLS circuit, which is a very real possibility. And troubleshooting those circuits, whether they’re new or are experiencing issues, takes time―often lots of it.
With SD-WAN, the days are gone when a member of your IT staff has to travel to a branch location to install and configure a router. SD-WAN allows new sites to quickly and easily be turned up, and done so within a matter of minutes.
With a secondary Internet circuit installed, SD-WAN can easily and automatically re-route traffic in the event one (1) of the circuits goes down. With MPLS, cloud-based applications are usually backhauled directly to the data center first, after which they’re handed off to the Internet. This can add latency and reduce performance. Not so with SD-WAN.
SD-WAN is carrier neutral, and can be utilized by the transport protocol of your choosing, whether 4G, MPLS, Wi-Fi, etc. And you don’t have to worry about securing a circuit from only one (1) service provider, which provides far greater flexibility. And SD-WAN provides the ability to monitor all circuits, regardless of service provider.
Got questions? GDT’s expert SD-WAN network architects have answers
The SD-WAN experts at GDT have implemented SD-WAN solutions for organizations of all sizes. They know how to implement a solution that not only provides savings, both hard and soft, but delivers the many benefits SD-WAN can provide. Contact them at SDN@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.