SD-WAN for the Medium Sized Business

In our previous blog post, we discussed how many small to midsized business (SMB) organizations are rarely asked “what is the business problem you want SD-WAN to solve?” by SD-WAN vendors. Business intent is an important discussion for all CIOs and IT managers considering SD-WAN, but many SD-WAN vendors default to selling on a list of product features and hardware specifications.

In our conversations with IT buyers, SD-WAN Rankings found that CIOs and IT managers want vendors to offer SD-WAN setups that help solve business rather than technological issues. Hardware specifications and datasheets for an SD-WAN appliance do not answer the critical question that every CIO is asking: “What are we needing this SD-WAN solution to do for our business?”

For CIOs whose businesses are no longer small but not quite up to the global enterprise level, SD-WAN Rankings encourages midsized businesses to consider these criteria for a successful SD-WAN deployment:

Defining midsized

The fact that there is no universally-accepted definition for a “midsized” company should not be a surprise. Multiple studies in North America and Europe have determined that the majority of everyone with a steady job considers themselves to be “middle-class workers.” The corporate director and university administrator making six-figure salaries considered themselves to be in the same socioeconomic strata as the office worker and college instructor working under them for significantly less money.

Rather than defining a “midsized” business strictly by revenue, think of a business as a company serving and staffed by the local community. Small businesses serve communities, midsized and large businesses scale up to serve larger communities and geographical areas. SD-WAN Rankings is looking at midsized businesses that include financial services such as regional banks, manufacturing firms, and retailers such as car dealerships with repair services. These midsized companies have multiple offices and employees that are spread out across a large geographical area but not at a nationwide scale. As such, these companies want a consistency of service from SD-WAN and can often spend more on the IT resources required to achieve that higher level of quality.

SD-WAN Rankings Recommendations for midsized and multistate companies

CIOs at midsized organizations are likely to be interested in a managed services provider for SD-WAN rather than a large telecom carrier or pure do it yourself SD-WAN appliance vendor. The biggest downside of carrier-based or DIY SD-WAN for midsized businesses is the cost of support. An appliance vendor for SD-WAN hardware such as VMware VeloCloud or Versa are good for companies with a DIY ethos when it comes to IT—and have the large IT budgets and human capital to deploy and manage them. A telecom carrier such as AT&T or Verizon in the USA, Bell or Telus in Canada, and BT, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, and Telefonica in Europe often will provide good support for SD-WAN deployments, but are often bureaucratic and slow—unless your company has the money to pay for “named account” support.

The most successful SD-WAN deployments at midsized companies are performed by managed service providers (MSPs). Fittingly, it is the mid-sized MSPs such as Masergy and CenturyLink in the US offering the most viable options around price, performance, and support. In Canada, providers of business cable services such as Shaw do well. European midsized organizations often operate on a much different scale than in North America because of the geography. A business in the USA that operates in a couple of states in the northeast or southwest would be classified as an international busines in much of central  Europe. As such, European customers should consider Europe-based MSPs such as Colt or Open Systems or US-based MSPs with a strong international presence such as Masergy and Aryaka. 

While an unmanaged or DIY SD-WAN is not recommended for the midsized business, Citrix, Fortinet, and VMware VeloCloud work well if the organization can commit to the required onsite IT resources.