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Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WANs) remains one of the fastest growing sectors in IT. In fact, a new survey of 400 IT executives published by Cato Networks, an SD-WAN service delivered via the cloud, indicates that 44 percent of respondents are evaluating their SD-WAN options. Better still, 75 percent of IT executives evaluating SD-WANs were leaning towards relying on service providers rather than trying to acquire and manage SD-WAN gear on their own.

Where things get a little more nuanced is that many IT executives still view SD-WAN to be the province of traditional telecommunications providers. As the providers of wide area networks, there’s no doubt that telecommunication providers have the inside track in discovering SD-WAN service opportunities.

However, the Cato Networks survey also make it clear there is no love lost between the IT executives surveyed and telecommunications carriers. For example, 71 percent of IT executives said carriers take too long to resolve problems, while nearly half (48 percent) complained about lack of visibility. A full 80 percent of respondents preferred self-service or co-management models for accessing SD-WAN services.

Of course, building a managed SD-WAN service represents a major investment on the part of an MSP. Instead of having to make a massive investment in capital, an MSP could leverage the Cato Networks cloud service to access a console, through which they can co-manage an SD-WAN environment in collaboration with their end customer.

MSPs can overtake carriers in providing SD-WAN services

Based on the survey results there may be a strong case for MSPs to deliver such a SD-WAN service. On average, respondents gave carriers a score of 54 out of a possible 100 when asked if they thought network service pricing was fair. Carriers also scored lower (3.33 out of 5) than cloud application providers (3.70) and cloud data center providers (3.71).

Worse yet for carriers, just under half of respondents (46 percent) reported that moves, adds, and changes require at least one business day (8 hours or more). Nearly three quarters said new locations required three or more business weeks to set up a SD-WAN service. Only two percent of respondents indicated that carriers exceeded their expectations in delivering new features and enhancements.

MSPs often rely on carriers for the basic networking connections they need to deliver their services. Many of those same MSPs also feel like carriers have unfairly leveraged those connections to acquire networking equipment using volume discounts at a much lower cost. Yet, in the age of the cloud, that playing field may be leveling as alternative providers of SD-WAN services start to emerge.

It’ll be up to each MSP to determine how much they want to rely on such services versus deploying their own networking and cybersecurity gear. One thing is clear ­— the days when carriers seemed too large to challenge may finally be ending.

Photo: Pavel Ignatov / Shutterstock

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Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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