November 24, 2021 | 4 min read
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How to pitch SD-WAN to the C-Suite

Mo Hafez

Senior Solutions Engineer, Expereo

The Global Internet is a wonderful thing. It connects people, builds businesses, enables opportunities. But the fault-tolerant nature of packetized communications means it (and private networks that use it, like VPNs and SD-WANs) mostly keeps functioning even under the worst conditions. Narrow pipes, patchy connectivity, all the bottlenecks that add zeroes to the ping but somehow, the Internet usually gets the job done.

But if the underlay is subpar, it leads to a poor user experience and a bad impression of overlaid services like SD-WAN solutions as a result.

This is why some C-level executives think SD-WAN is just “networking over the Internet”, subject to the service variabilities of an Internet Service Provider (ISP). And it’s also why some enterprises stay with older MPLS technology, despite high ongoing costs.

In fact, modern SD-WAN with Expereo’s Enhanced Internet is very different to plain-old-Internet-service. Here’s how to explain that to people in your C-Suite who don’t want to know the details of packetized data, asymmetric bandwidth, or the OSI 7-layer model.

The key thought: the right SD-WAN solution doesn’t just use the Internet—it improves it.

They say: “SD-WAN is just the internet.”

You say: “That means our SD-WAN can be everywhere.”

Yes, a managed SD-WAN service makes use of the public Internet infrastructure. But that isn’t a negative. Netflix streams high-definition movies on it, in real-time. Amazon handles billions of transactions on it. And billions of people use it for WhatsApping and Zooming on the go.

There’s nothing wrong with the public Internet. In fact, with fast fiber-optic connections your SD-WAN can be available to anyone with an Internet connection, from their kitchen table or a distant hotel room. Whereas MPLS implementations mostly have a set number of Points of Presence (PoPs) a modern SD-WAN has as many PoPs as your city has WIFI networks.

That’s the first benefit of switching to SD-WAN: the sheer breadth and depth of coverage. By using the Internet as its underlay, your network becomes a truly global SD-WAN, spanning every person, device, and office across your organization.

They say: “The public Internet isn’t secure.”

You say: “That’s why SD-WAN creates a private one.”

Security’s come a long way since the earliest VPNs. Expereo’s managed SD-WAN architecture is built from the bottom up for the diversity of the modern world. Authenticating not just the device trying to connect, or even the person behind it, but the relationship with each application, limiting access to each service to those who genuinely need it.

Up-to-date security models like ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) protect your network at its perimeter, assuming the worst until proven otherwise. It also reduces your exposure to malicious actors who may compromise shared devices, shared WIFI, and even malware on the network. Because each interaction is limited to a specific context, with access granted case-by-case, malware infections are severely curtailed.

The Internet may provide the underlay, but SD-WAN vendors like Expereo provide the overlay—your own private network “pinched off” from public view. With some of the world’s largest banks moving to SD-WAN technology to handle billions of dollars a day, it’s a safe bet it’s secure enough for your enterprise too.

They say: “Our applications need to be in our own datacenter.”

You say: “Let’s look at where our ‘datacenter’ really is.”

Yes, plenty of enterprise applications still reside on physical datacenters. But what your C-levelers may not realize is how that’s changing.

First, the average external datacenter is the cloud. It sells its offerings as web services, connecting to its clients via business broadband more often than dedicated lines—avoiding the “backhauling” problem of all data passing through a central location.

Indeed, many of the applications you use are probably in the cloud already, from mission-critical ones that define your operations, to smaller “shadow IT” used by individuals and departments to get their day-to-day done. Gartner predicts that cloud will continue to grow in popularity over physical data centers with enterprises expected to spend a collective $480bn on cloud services in the next 12 months.

And because of its coverage potential, easy accessibility, and flexibility, SD-WAN is made for the cloud. In fact, you couldn’t design a more ideal connectivity method if you tried.

So, respond to the management team with: there’s every likelihood you’re a cloud company right now, with many of your important applications redesigned and migrated already—whether a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid spanning both. Which makes a move to SD-WAN a logical next step.

They say: “Network speeds can go up and down.”

You say: “Let’s talk about Enhanced Internet.”

Saving the best until last: SD-WAN isn’t just the Internet made use of—it’s the Internet made better. Expereo’s solution for overcoming the lags and latencies of Internet connectivity is called Enhanced Internet.

In the simplest sense, Enhanced Internet brings a sense of order to the bump-and-push of normal IP routing, organizing traffic into patterns and paths that make the most efficient use of your resources. That means:

  1. Setting routings with as few hops as possible.
  2. Dealing with red flags like persistent packet loss.
  3. Matching available resources to user need at each location.

So far, so good: every network manager tries to do this. But Enhanced Internet goes further, using rules-based artificial intelligence to tweak and tune those efficiencies in real-time.

Normal SD-WAN is defined by its underlay, subject to the whims of the public network. But SD-WAN with Enhanced Internet makes many issues of that underlay simply disappear. It’s perhaps the greatest compliment to SD-WAN today.

Switching from MPLS to SD-WAN doesn’t have to stressful

SD-WAN and MPLS are chalk and cheese. Fundamentally different approaches—each with its own strengths. But as cloud services become the norm, with Internet access available everywhere, SD-WAN is fast becoming the default option for the enterprise: simpler in concept, faster to deploy, and far cheaper to maintain.

Feel free to use this article as a help sheet with your C-Suite. Or, if you’re ready to talk about your SD-WAN needs get in touch today.

Mo Hafez

Senior Solutions Engineer, Expereo

Mo Hafez is a Senior Solutions Engineer at Expereo bringing over 12 years of experience in design, implementation and management of IT connectivity solutions, with a passion for problem-solving and building client relationships to help achieve business-critical requirements.

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