SD-WHEN

CHRIS GILMOUR
CTO and SD-WAN lead for Axians
linkedin.com/in/cgilmour
chris.gilmour@axians.co.uk

SD-When – Before, During, After; when is the right time to involve a System Integrator like Axians? 

In this blog I talk about when in the process it makes sense to engage a specialist integrator like Axians, and how there is no such thing as “too far down the line” to bring an SD-WAN project back on course. 

Typically there are 4 phases of a project in an SD-WAN deployment where a good systems integrator can add significant value to your organisation:

  • Inception
  • Kick Off
  • In Flight
  • Optimise

Inception

I discussed in my previous blog SD-Where how a systems integrator like Axians can help customers build an SD-WAN business case, identify the right vendor and choose the right deployment method (DIY, Managed and Co-Managed) for your organisations specific scenario.

Kick Off

Many organisations who have decided to go down the DIY route will have initiated an SD-WAN project at some level i.e. performed an RFx to gauge the market, shortlisted and engaged a vendor or have kicked off their SD-WAN project. During the early phases many organisations begin to realise that there is more inherent complexity and requirement on resource, time and skills than previously anticipated in the business case.

In reality SD-WAN technology is only half of the conversation, it is the foundation and building blocks of your new network but the challenge for many organisations is they often don’t have the necessary resource available full time to manage the full lifecycle of the project in house. This in combination with the many myths surrounding the selection, deployment and management of SD-WAN can leave organisations with project tension, technical fatigue and valuable resource tied up for prolonged periods of time with delivery deadlines missed and investments squandered.  It is at this point that organisations should look to engage a partner who can fulfil their original project ambitions and architect a solution that delivers against the business case.

Whilst I am on this subject, if this is where you feel you are right now, be assured, it is not too late to turn the ship around.

In Flight

It is a gutsy organisation who acknowledges that things are not going as planned and that unless change happens, the project in which they have invested so much effort will not deliver.

This is the scenario where a vendor has been chosen (and potentially an integration partner), the project is in-flight i.e. awarded the contract, resource allocated, the organisation has been mobilised and delivery deadlines set, and the project has commenced but for some reason the initiative is breaking down or has stalled and project gridlock has set in with no meaningful progress being made.

As an aside: Smart organisations build in to their contracts the ability to bring in additional specialist resource to assist with a project at any time if required. Worth considering if you are at the start of an SD-WAN project, just in case things do start to go wrong.

Not all integrators are made equally so take your time choosing the right partner, as SD-WAN is a train that many have jumped on. There are integration partners who state they have the ability to deliver but let me tell you, we have extensive experience at being parachuted in on active engagements to rescue failing projects to bring them back on plan. It seems inconceivable that this happens but it goes to demonstrate my point that many organisations and deployment partners alike underestimate the intricacies involved in delivering a solution that specifically ties in all of the requirements, both technical and commercial, from the business case.

Optimise

Another scenario I see all to often is where an organisation has designed and implemented an SD-WAN solution, and in practical terms it is deemed to be working but in reality it is not delivering against the anticipated technical or business requirements and lacking in tangible ROI.

Building an SD-WAN business case is one thing, getting board approval is another. Most SD-WAN initiatives are hard fought and come with specific expectations from the business which are in no small part compounded by the bold claims made in much of the SD-WAN marketing collateral. There are inherent risks with any new technology and SD-WAN is no different. Add to this the specific complexities that will accompany integration and you have a real potential for things to go wrong.

Migrating away from a known quantity (MPLS) that has supported the business for many years will for many IT managers be the first time in their careers that they will be negotiating and securing a new network solution for a corporate network that is not MPLS based. This requires a significant level of trust in the technology and the deployment partner which, is a very important subject I will be covering in a future blog.

So what I am saying is for SD-WAN to warrant and validate the ‘cost of change’, the final deployed solution has to absolutely deliver the ROI set out in the business case. This is where the true measure of the right integration partner comes to the fore and an area where Axians has built a lot of credibility and expertise. If you believe that you are not getting the full benefits of the SD-WAN solution you worked hard to justify, Axians has a range of assessment and consultancy options to steer your deployment back on track and enable your organization to realise the benefits that you built the business case around.

So When?

Naturally from my perspective the advice would be ‘it’s preferable to start out with the right integration partner, but to build in contractual options that leaves the door ajar for additional support. The SD-WAN landscape is more complete and more diverse than at any time in its short history (see my blog SD-WAN 2020/2021 Perspective) so an experienced integration partner like Axians can add significant value to your project goals.

We make what we think are good decisions based on sound advice and research but sometimes things change, that’s life, but keep in mind that wherever you are in your SD-WAN journey there is no such thing as “too far down the line” to bring an SD-WAN project back on course.


I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HOW AXIANS SD-WAN EXPERIENCE AND EXPERTISE CAN HELP DEVELOP MY NETWORK

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