The latest service providers to launch SD-WAN services demonstrate the value of flexibility in encouraging broader market adoption

One of the most biggest benefits of the software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is the variation of deployment options it provides to customers, who can choose either a do it yourself approach or a managed services proposition from a third party network provider.  it also offers Service Providers another value add to their customers and important annuity business in an increasingly competitive market.

That capability was a major draw for European and UK network infrastructure providers Virgin Media Business (VMB) and Zayo, which both launched SD-WAN solutions based on Versa Networks technology earlier this year [2018].

Zayo will offer both managed and unmanaged SD-WAN services to its enterprise customers (much as it does for its MPLS based WAN services now). Reading between the lines, customers will either be allowed to install Versa’s FlexVNF software on the white box, bare metal appliance or server of their choice on-premise before linking it back to the Zayo, or Zayo will implement, configure and monitor those appliances on the customers behalf whilst provisioning additional managed firewall, routing, application performance and security services on top.

Zayo believes that the sweet spot for SD-WAN are those sites which require around 100Mbit/s of bandwidth, and who may already be looking to replace existing MPLS connections with Ethernet alternatives (thereby neatly sidestepping any potential cannibalisation of Zayo’s existing MPLS business).

VMB has taken different tack, using Versa’s Cloud IP platform to provide only fully managed, secure SD-WAN services rather than giving customers a DIY option. Its aim is to offer virtual connectivity options that tie into VMB’s software as a service (SaaS) proposition, which currently include Microsoft Office 365, as well as secure links into public cloud services (Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services for example) over which it deliver additional IPSec encryption and other security applications.

Versa is doing a good job of attracting a wide range of service providers to its platform. Its customers now include CenturyLink, Tata Communications, Comcast, Colt, RCN Business, S-Net, Verizon and China Telecom Global which together provide network services to a mixture of regional and multinational companies. Not all of those customers are yet using SD-WAN, but many of them are certain to switch as the cost and flexibility benefits of the technology become more obvious over the next few years.

At this stage of its evolution, SD-WAN needs to be flexible enough to meet every customer’s needs to maximise the technology’s adoption, and Versa’s approach seems like an eminently sensible option.

Talk to Axians about your Software Defined WAN needs.

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