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SD-WAN’s Impact on the Channel

It would be an understatement to say that SD-WAN has received a tremendous amount of buzz in recent years. As a vendor that has been providing SD-WAN solutions for the last several years , watching this “wave” hit the market has been exciting on multiple levels. We aren’t surprised by the marketing and hype, after all, we felt strongly enough about the power of the technology to start a new company around it. What is somewhat surprising to us, though, is the limited scope of the telecom industry’s marketing efforts. Google “SD-WAN”, and you’ll see article after article touting the benefits of SD-WAN as a replacement, or enhancement to MPLS. The messaging is all about private networking and inter-office connectivity.

Can SD-WAN be used as a vehicle to save your customer 15% on their current MPLS bill? Possibly, but focusing on SD-WAN as the “next evolution of MPLS” is very much a carrier-centric view. Carriers are heavily incentivized to push SD-WAN as an MPLS augmentation to protect their legacy base.

In the indirect channel, SD-WAN’s impact can go well beyond private networking design. In fact, it has the potential to unlock the value of an independent Telecom Agent, MSP or IT Consultant like no technology we’ve seen in recent memory. Here’s 3 examples of how this can play out:

Cloud Connectivity

First, the future of our industry’s growth is largely in the Cloud, not in legacy private networking architectures. This shouldn’t be seen as a threat to the Channel community, but rather an amazing opportunity. As we like to say here at Bigleaf, the Cloud is only as good as your connection to it. Who better to help customers build a cost-effective, intelligent, and robust access methodology to the Cloud than the Channel? With an SD-WAN-enabled Internet architecture in place, Telecom Agents, MSPs and IT Consultants are uniquely poised to not only help customers build the foundation of their Cloud strategy, but also grow into selling many of the Cloud services customers are looking to use down the road (hosted VoIP, VDI, AWS/Azure, Office 365, SaaS, etc.).

Carrier Neutral SD-WAN

Second, SD-WAN technology enables a carrier-diverse, physically-diverse Internet solution that no direct carrier rep can bring to the table. SD-WAN is the ultimate differentiator between the Direct and Indirect value proposition to the customer. Simply put, carrier reps will be motivated to leverage SD-WAN to retain and grow private networking architectures under their specific carrier platform. Telecom Agents, MSPs and IT Consultants will have the freedom to leverage SD-WAN in more creative and customer-friendly designs that provide best-of-breed solutions for Cloud access.

The Power of Bundling VoIP with SD-WAN

Third, while the carriers’ SD-WAN offerings are designed to chase large and complex private WANs, there’s a tremendous opportunity down-market in the SMB/Mid-Market space to grow revenue and scale. A recent Computer Economics study cited that SMB and Mid-Market businesses are adopting SaaS applications nearly twice as fast as large Enterprises. SD-WAN should be the channel’s foundation and pull-through to sell Cloud and SaaS services. It can be added to every Internet quote, every VoIP quote, and every Cloud quote to turn dumb Internet pipes into intelligent platforms that ensure the performance of key business applications. And the quoting/sales process can be kept very simple with common-sense phrasing and language (e.g., “VoIP prioritization and seamless failover”). In short, we’re combating the race to zero on bandwidth pricing by evangelizing the concept of more intelligent (Cloud-ready) and carrier/physically diverse Internet environments.

At Bigleaf Networks, we see an incredibly unique fit between SD-WAN and the Channel. It’s why we made the decision from the very beginning of our company to go to market exclusively through the Channel. SD-WAN’s greatest potential is unlocked through a carrier agnostic, circuit agnostic environment where the power and efficiencies of the Cloud takes center stage – it’s a perfect storm of new technology and opportunity for our Channel Partners.