18 April 2017, Johannesburg End-to-end telecommunications and networking solutions provider Saicom, has extended its offering with a fully managed Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) service. Saicom’s SD-WAN service, powered by VeloCloud, is suitable for businesses of all sizes, but specifically those with multiple sites.
“SD-WAN is of particular interest to businesses that are moving their applications to the cloud and those with multiple branches that want to utilise high speed off-the-shelf internet connectivity but still want to have a service level agreement (SLA) or control over those links,” says Greg de Chasteauneuf, chief technology officer at Saicom.
The company selected VeloCloud as a preferred vendor because its solution is an over-the-top service that can operate over any existing IP connection, independent of the provider and has a rich set of APIs to enable the integration of SD-WAN into existing business systems. It also has a simple interface from a provisioning and analytics perspective.
“In terms of ease of use and speed of deployment, VeloCloud is hard to beat,” he says.
Saicom’s end-to-end SD-WAN service includes all aspects of running an SD-WAN network. From initial design and MPLS migration consultation, or a hybrid model, to a fully deployed and managed network regardless of the network providers currently used by businesses or the providers they prefer to use. “We manage the network end-to-end and can install and manage third party links on a customer’s behalf,” says de Chasteauneuf.
While Saicom’s SD-WAN offering can run as a network function virtualisation (NFV) instance, the company also provides a fully managed hardware option – a small form factor customer premise equipment (CPE) or an edge device that is purpose-built to offer all the necessary WAN / LAN ports and integrated 802.11ac/n Wi-Fi.
“Our SD-WAN offering is easy to use thanks to a central orchestrator and one-click provisioning, which is the ability to take a device out of the box and within ten minutes have it fully functional and the site up and running,” he says.
Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, 30% of enterprises will use SD-WAN products in all their branches.
Adds de Chasteauneuf, “Locally, uptake is dependent on when customers’ MPLS contracts will phase out, but we predict that thirty percent of enterprises will switch to SD-WAN within the next three to five years.”
Enterprises currently locked into MPLS contracts could consider hybrid architectures that allow them to use off-the-shelf internet links while still using their MPLS links.
“The advantage of SD-WAN is its ability to leverage existing links and over time, as the ease and usability of the system becomes apparent, and as the SLA matches that of MPLS, the MPLS links can be phased out,” he says.
Saicom urges caution when considering extending existing or signing new MPLS contracts.
“Enterprises may receive some immediate savings by renewing their MPLS contracts, but the cost, inflexibility and slow time to delivery is making MPLS an archaic technology and one which inhibits cloud migration and future growth,” warns de Chasteauneuf.
In the South African market where MPLS pricing is high and in the rest of Africa where MPLS connectivity is difficult to obtain in remote areas, SD-WAN becomes an attractive alternative. It is a technology that enables businesses to take off-the-shelf internet links, including satellite links, to connect a site to their wide area networks in minutes.
Saicom has both MPLS and SD-WAN experience with the ability to consult on a hybrid environment that meets a business’s SLA criteria.
“Companies that continue to resist change may not only end up spending more than necessary on legacy networks, but also face being leapfrogged by competitors using SD-WAN to enable new digital strategies and provide better customer experiences,” he says.