Managed SD-WAN vs. SD-WAN as a Service

October 2023
Sagenet Blog Managed Sd Wan

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) has emerged as the clear choice for today’s business networking needs. What’s not so clear is much of the terminology surrounding the different deployment options.

SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that simplifies network management and operation by intelligently routing traffic across multiple connections. Centralized control and orchestration capabilities allow organizations to add or remove network connections quickly, making it ideal for today’s work-from-anywhere models.

However, implementing an SD-WAN architecture can be difficult, requiring specialized expertise in WAN optimization, traffic steering, telecom services and more.  In traditional on-premises deployments, the customer must purchase all routers, switches, and other hardware components. Also, the customer’s IT team is responsible for monitoring and management of the environment.

As a result, more organizations are opting for managed solutions that offload the burden of equipment ownership and management to a third-party provider. There are two main approaches — managed SD-WAN or SD-WAN as a Service. However, current industry definitions contribute to widespread confusion about the models.

While the two models share many similarities, there are important differences. Here’s a closer look at each:

SD-WAN as a Service

In this arrangement, a service provider owns and operates the underlying infrastructure, including network devices, routers, switches, SD-WAN orchestration platforms and any other necessary components. Customers get on-demand access to SD-WAN functionality through the cloud. You pay only for the features and functionality you use but can increase or decrease service levels as your needs change.

Varying management requirements contribute to much of the confusion about SD-WAN as a Service. Typically, customers retain control and manage the service themselves via a cloud-based management portal. The service provider delivers the necessary infrastructure and software components, but the customer is responsible for the ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

However, some providers fully manage their SD-WAN as a Service offerings. This includes tasks such as configuring, provisioning, monitoring, and supporting everything from edge to edge.

Managed SD-WAN

In these arrangements, a managed services provider (MSP) usually partners with an SD-WAN vendor to add network services to its portfolio. The MSP can then offer customers a turnkey solution in which all necessary software and hardware are provided, with the MSP’s team assisting with design, configuration, and deployment as well as ongoing monitoring and management. The MSP also maintains multiple transport services, relieving customers of the need to manage connectivity from different providers.

Fully managed SD-WANs also typically feature strong security measures. MSPs typically implement advanced encryption, firewalling, and threat intelligence mechanisms to safeguard data and ensure compliance with industry regulations. With regular security updates and patches, organizations can stay ahead of emerging threats and minimize the risk of data breaches.

The SageNet Advantage

Business networking requirements have changed significantly in the past few years due to increased reliance on cloud services and remote workforces. While SD-WAN addresses many of those requirements, network overhauls are expensive and can create a great deal of work for resource-strapped IT teams. Outsourcing arrangements can relieve the burden, but there is significant confusion about the characteristics of managed SD-WAN and SD-WAN as a Service solutions.

SageNet cuts through the confusion by offering both options through our portfolio of SD-WAN solutions. We offer an a la carte menu of SD-WAN options that we can package according to your unique needs. Contact us to learn more.

Jason Schwakopf

Jason Schwakopf

Senior Sales Engineer

Recent events have caused a paradigm shift for many companies, accelerating their desire to better leverage IoT. Supply chain, healthcare, advanced living care, retail and other service industries are going to be looking at ways to be “touchless” as much as possible. Enterprise systems will need a new level of flexibility, accessibility and above all, security.

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