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8th October 17

Game Changing SD-WAN

First came Frame Relay then came ATM, and still widely in use is MPLS. Now the next big thing is SD-WAN. It stands for Software Defined Wide Area Network. Simply put, its the technology that make it possible to use the Internet as your Private Corporate Network or WAN.  The traditional WAN or Wide Area Network is built using private cicruits such as MPLS or T1/E1s that cost a lot.

But more than savings, it's the speed of setting up and making changes with SD-WAN that makes it highly endearing. Everyone has access to good quality Internet. Most SD-WAN solution can run on generic Intel boxes as opposed to purpose built networking hardware such as routers and switches. This translates to easy setup at any location around the globe. You will remember how hard was to interconnect your sites just yesterday when you had to ship networking gear through customs and then order MPLS lines which can take months. With this SD-WAN thing, if you got Internet and a couple of generic Intel boxes, you got SD-WAN.

Here is how it works. SD-WAN creates secure and redundant VPN tunnels (encrypted virtual links) that are intelligently setup and torn down based on Internet traffic conditions at that instant and your application routing priorities. With two ISP lines, SD-WAN can deliver decent quality of service so even your bandwidth hungry apps will run just as well as it did over your MPLS lines. One more game changing benefit is the ease of scaling up and down of your bandwidth needs. Since all the setup is software driven, changes can be done remotely. There is no need for an engineer to come on site. Most SD-WAN providers are offering an "Orchestration Tool" which is like a setup wizard so even non-techies can setup and manage SD-WAN. No need for advanced networking certification courses. 

With SD-WAN you can expect to reduce your cost by up to 70% of your current operational cost using traditional networking gear and links. Cost aside, the benefit of making changes on the fly can be a huge benefit to the business.

Call us for advice if you are considering switching to SD-WAN. We can help with determining if there is a business case. If there is, we can also find the right SD-WAN solution for you. We recently assisted a large corporation with SD-WAN transformation. 


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Answers for Vendor Management Issues

Lets face it. Your service providers are telling you they are doing a great job. You know the reality could be far from it. As someone put it to me recently. "It's like letting the students grade their own papers" Gartner and other analyst firms are already talking about the importance of a dedicated Vendor Management Team. If you are outsourcing more than 50% of your IT services, you need it.

Here are some vendor management answers that are not worth burying.

  1. Pay attention to the Service Level Agreements in your Contract: This is often overlooked in the excitement of big benefits of SaaS, PaaS, aka "The Cloud". Please make sure you ask your supplier for some basics such as percentage uptime guarantee, penalties for making changes, resolution times for incidents etc. You may want to have your own standards on how you may want to define some KPIs across different suppliers. More on this in the last paragraph. 
  2. Mind The Service Interdependencies: You may find out that one supplier's service is dependent upon another's. For example, your SAP supplier has dependencies on your network supplier. In such cases you need to align your SLAs so it makes sense. For example a 99.999% uptime on SAP is a waste if your Network to reach that SAP on the cloud has an uptime guarantee of only 98%. 
  3. Technology Improvement Assurance: Moore's law says technology improves by 100% every two to three years. So this means that you should not get locked into a contract without demanding efficiency improvements on a year-on-year basis.This will lead to significant cost savings and ensure you are not lagging in the latest and greatest features that your competitor may be enjoying. 
  4. Ensuring Vendor Mobility: Also known as "vendor lock-in". The way to avoid this is to keep your requirements as industry standard as possible. Ask your supplier to keep hardware and software configuration and the support knowledge base up to date. Insist on your supplier in sharing it with you. This will make the transition to a new supplier not just easier, but actually feasible. Else it will be like Hotel California... "You can check out anytime but you can never leave!"
  5. Adequate Security: What you need for security will often be exceeded by your supplier. This is good news. But it is always a good practice to make sure that your supplier meets the minimum security you need. Another tricky situation is when two suppliers have a split responsibility e.g. your network is with vendor A and the firewalls are being managed by a vendor B. 
  6. Too Many Providers: When you will get beyond three service providers, you will realize that managing each one with differing contractual terms and pricing mechanisms will become a management nightmare. When this happens, give us a call. Our XaaS management platform ZENATICS has a common denominator framework to automate vendor management. Oops sorry! No plug-ins in blogs! I forgot. Here is the answer. Create an internal SLA policy in your vendor management function. It will serve as a common standard for all your suppliers. 

For any questions and comments, please feel to contact me or post on our blog page.

Happy Vendor Management !

By Saibal Sen

 

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ZENATICS - Analytics Platform for Vendor Management

ZENATICS is probably the Industry's first analytics platform for managing outsourced service contracts.

ZENATICS is our Service Management platform on the cloud. We have created our unique Framework of 12 KPIs that can universally manage any IT service. Be it Networks, Data Centers, Applications, Security, Storage etc.  

Listed below are all the KPIs addressing fundamental insights you will need to monitor in any outsourced service:

ZENATICS KPIs
Incidents - Are the number of incidents in a given period too high?
Changes - Are the number of changes in a given period too high?
Availability - Has service uptime fallen below contracted agreement?
Agility - Is speed of service execution is acceptable?

Financial KPIs
Demand/Capacity - How well matched is it?
Budget - Are we over or under plan?
Utilization - Is it optimum?
Billing Errors - Are we being billed accurately? 

Infrastructure Compliance
Standards - Are the vendors compliant with industry or internal standards?
Hardware Contracts - Are they about to expire?
Service Contracts - Are they about to expire?
Age - Is it still in life?

Each of these KPI thresholds can be set by specific service and a specfic vendor making it fully customizable. 

See the two-minute video on our main page www.zenesysconsulting.com for a quick overview and some screen shots. Or call us for a demo. 

 

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