Software-defined WANs have been available for nearly five years, with on-premise vendors. This makes sense because early users typically have highly sophisticated IT organizations and adopt the DIY model. Now that the market is maturing, less technical organizations have finished linking their I's and T's and are ready to begin deploying. But instead of the DIY model, many prefer the managed service model.
A good sign that the wind is turning in the field of managed services for SD-WAN networks appeared late January Beat Venture announced that the new SD-WAN company, Cato Networks, had raised an additional $ 55 million, bringing the total investment capital of $ 125 million. The tour was chaired by the renowned venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners and included the participation of all previous investors including Aspect Ventures, Graylock Partners, Singtel Innov8, US Venture Partners and co-founders Cato, Shlomo Kramer and Gur Shatz.
Another indicator of the current trend in managed services is that almost all SD-WAN device providers have agreements with service providers. They would not do it if their customers did not tell them they wanted to buy SD-WAN as a service. Moreover, I am not the only analyst to believe that. In the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure, analysts recommend that buyers "evaluate the WAN as a service for your next refresh, if you've always opted for a DIY approach."
Complexity is a major factor
The reason is the complexity. There is no "easy button" for SD-WAN, and many things need to be taken into account, including network redesign, broadband inclusion, application optimization, security issues, and much more. other factors. I recently spoke to a CIO from a major bank who told me that he had first envisioned an SD-WAN network as a gradual upgrade of the network. As his business progressed, he realized that it was a transformation that required new skills.
In most IT domains, companies typically delegate ongoing operational tasks to an MSP. With SD-WAN networks, the vendor plays a dual role: facilitating the transition from legacy to new technology, and then preserving the environment for the customer. Most organizations do not have the required skills and competencies and can benefit from an MSP.
The next question raised by Cato funding is: Why Cato? If you are not familiar with Cato, the startup has taken a different approach to providing SD-WAN.
Today's digital businesses are increasingly distributed, both in terms of locations and mobile users. The network must be able to meet the requirements of both. SD-WAN appliances meet some, but not all, WAN transformation requirements. SD-WAN networks offer greater agility in selecting the right sublayer for connection locations. But SD-WAN networks do not, natively, do the following:
Requirements for the approach of the devices
The appliance's approach requires great design and architectural expertise and does not natively address mobile users or cloud connectivity. For all these reasons, the demand for managed services is increasing. However, there are different types of managed services. Traditional telecom operators generally advocate that the managed service be built around the appliance, which will likely lead to the same old telecommunication experience, including long problem-solving time and poor customer service.
Cato's approach is to leverage its own cloud networking and security stack. In a sense, this is the cross-cutting aspect of AWS, networking and security. As the owner of the network, Cato can control the traffic, which can have serious consequences for national or global companies.
SD-WAN providers often advocate for the public Internet to be used instead of a private network. This is very suitable for short-haul routes, such as Chicago to Washington, D.C. Longer distances, such as Los Angeles to New York, Dubai to Dallas or Singapore to London, can be very different. My own research in this area revealed that private network response times were improved from 4X to 5X over an Internet connection from the top.
Cato also has a focus on safety. Last year, it deployed its own threat search service, which leverages the end-to-end visibility it has. In fact, I used to refer to Cato as a security provider disguised as an SD-WAN provider.
The market for SD-WAN is changing and buyers will be sure to choose MSP. It is essential for decision makers to look at capabilities holistically and view security, the network and the cloud as a decision criterion.
Zeus Kerravala is founder from ZK Research and a regular contributor to eWEEK.