Posted on: May 14, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski
By Terry Traina, SVP of Engineering at Masergy
As the first step in the SD-WAN education process, channel partners and IT consultants must lead buyers in understanding the market, how solutions differ, and which aspects truly maximize results.
The SD-WAN market is saturated by large providers and small startups, pure SD-WAN equipment manufacturers, and service providers who essentially just resell hardware. With few agile, mid-sized players who deliver a fully-managed service, buyers lack balanced offerings with both proven technologies and superior customer experiences. This gap leaves many CIOs choosing between the service they deserve or the technology they need.
There is a great opportunity for channel partners to act as true consultants, understand the enterprise business needs, and work with providers who can design an agile, secure, and cost-effective Managed SD-WAN solution that optimizes application performance, location, and user needs.
The Technology Differentiation
Comparing solutions requires examination into the underlying infrastructure as well as service quality, agility, and reliability.
Built-In Security: Look for solutions with a secure edge architecture where the SD-WAN edge device has built-in security features including next-generation firewalls with unified threat management.
Network Architecture and Design Principles: Choose a provider whose entire “backbone” is software-defined. With the entire solution software-defined, virtually every function is programmable for more responsiveness and automation. SD-WAN solutions that are truly embedded and integrated into a software-defined network fabric will deliver reliability and application quality.
Transport-Agnostic: Recommend solutions that are truly transport agnostic and can mix private, public, and wireless connectivity to customize access based on the needs of each application, location, and user.
SLAs for Cloud Service Interconnections: Inquire about end-to-end SLAs. Many providers offer direct connectivity to cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and others. But not all of them offer SLAs with that service, which is key for a cloud-first strategy. Cloud SLAs ensure reliable data transport right up until the moment the traffic is handed off to the cloud service, creating a globally consistent experience.
Real-time Application Analytics and Controls: Ensure that key business insights including security and application performance metrics are available in real-time and in one integrated dashboard. Due to multiple acquisitions and underlying legacy architectures, most SD-WAN providers are unable to deliver this critical functionality that businesses need to optimize their network.
The Key Customer Experience Questions
Services included with SD-WAN vary wildly among providers, so lead the buyer in understanding:
Configuration: Who will be responsible for configuration (before zero-touch devices are shipped)?
Implementation: Will the provider have dedicated project management resources to ensure on-time delivery and agile adds and moves?
Service Monitoring: Will they provide proactive network and security monitoring 24/7?
Maintenance and Security: Who will manage the equipment after deployment and ensure devices/firewalls are updated/monitored from a security standpoint?
Customer Experience Metrics: What is their Net Promoter Score and do they have a large referenceable customer base?
Masergy Managed SD-WAN and Business Use Cases
With the integration between SD-WAN and a globally ubiquitous software-defined platform, built-in security and advanced routing features, and real-time analytics, CIOs leverage Masergy SD-WAN to:
Support a multi-cloud enterprise that can aggressively migrate applications and services to multiple cloud environments
Enhance network performance with global availability, reliability improvements, and competitive IT agility
Optimize resource efficiency and cost savings, decreasing the complexity of WAN management through automation and advanced analytics tools
Posted on: March 18, 2019 By: CNSG Marketing
By: Dave Greenfield of Cato Networks
MPLS has been a popular choice for enterprise networks for many years. Despite the relatively high costs, MPLS can deliver SLA-backed performance required for today’s applications. Although it has almost legendary status, every legend develops myths. Let’s take a look at five myths about MPLS:
Myth 1: MPLS Is Necessary For Enterprises That Demand High Availability
networks are known for high uptime, but it’s not the only option when high availability is required. SD-WAN is a flexible solution that integrates low-cost Internet transports into a virtual WAN connection. Utilizing multiple links and additional features such as load balancing, and real-time monitoring of circuit health and performance, SD-WAN can achieve the required high availability today’s enterprises demand. Achieving high availability by having more than one circuit is great, but SD-WAN can also mix circuit types, such as fiber and 4G, to guarantee physical-layer redundancy.
Myth 2: The Entire Network Needs To Be Built With MPLS
Businesses have embraced cloud applications for ease of access and lower costs. But these applications live outside the corporate network and the MPLS network doesn’t connect to the cloud. For companies who are heavily invested in their current MPLS infrastructure can take a hybrid approach and add SD-WAN to provide improved access to the cloud. Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC, notes, “SD-WAN will be particularly relevant for enterprises that have adopted or are adopting hybrid cloud and especially those that are availing themselves of SaaS application services.”
Another scenario for MPLS augmentation with SD-WAN is opening a new office or moving to a new location. Provisioning new MPLS circuits is notoriously slow and SD-WAN can be used in situations where agility is required. This also holds true if cost is an issue as SD-WAN can be less expensive to deploy.
Myth 3: MPLS Is Secure
On it’s own, MPLS doesn’t employ security protocols. The security is based on the VLAN implementation; MPLS is technically a shared medium with customer traffic marked to be in its own VLAN. They are not vulnerable to the kinds of attacks seen on the Internet, since hackers can’t get to them, which is why they’re perceived as being secure. However, because traffic is sent in the clear, they are vulnerable to wiretapping. Many MPLS customers today add VPN encryption to secure the network. MPLS also does not prevent malware from propagating between MPLS-connected sites. Most often, MPLS configurations backhaul traffic to a datacenter and rely on the firewall at the datacenter to provide security. Optionally, some SD-WAN providers offer solutions with converged security using a single-pane-of-glass with event correlation of network and security traffic.
Myth 4: MPLS Is The Only Networking Option For Enterprises In China
With the recent crackdown on VPN connections in China, many believe MPLS is now the only way to go. In reality, VPN is still an option but the connection must be officially registered with the Chinese government. MPLS is an alternative, but provisioning a circuit in China can take months, maybe even years to complete.
SD-WAN providers that are approved and registered with the Chinese government can provide connectivity to China without the cost and lengthy provisioning process of MPLS. SD-WAN connectivity also means the connection will not be blocked by “The Great Firewall of China”, which is notorious for creating packet loss and latency issues.
Myth 5: MPLS Is The Only Option For Global Networks
SD-WAN technology has gone from an emerging technology to mainstream in 2018. According to research firm IDC, SD-WAN revenues will reach $2.3 billion in 2018 and more than $8 billion by 2021. But some see SD-WAN as no more than a regional solution because using public Internet connections internationally introduces unpredictable performance.
However, this is not the case for SD-WAN providers that have a global private backbone to ensure traffic is optimized and securely delivered around the globe. SD-WAN also holds an advantage over MPLS for global users accessing cloud resources. With only an MPLS backbone, users backhaul to the enterprise HQ then out to the cloud incurring long delays, or they access cloud resources over the public Internet incurring higher the cost of additional security infrastructure. With a global SD-WAN infrastructure, users from anywhere in the world can access cloud applications and other corporate resources from across the global backbone and expect high-performance connectivity.
The WAN, The Myth, The Legend
MPLS has earned and is deserving of its legendary reputation for reliability and performance. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of running a business, it’s important to rely on the facts and not merely the myths of any solution. SD-WAN has become a viable option for enterprise networks and can complement an existing MPLS network to overcome obstacles such as cost, agility, availability, and cloud access. Learn more about WAN, MPLS, and SD-WAN technologies at Cato Networks blog.
Posted on: September 17, 2018 By: CNSG Marketing
If you haven’t heard already – CNSG’s The Converged Effect program works to dive deep into the industry-specific challenges our customers face with procuring technology in today’s times. Each month, our VP of Strategy Devin Williams focuses on a particular industry, to deliver industry-specific tools and resources designed to help you with each phase of the sales cycle. Looking to watch the full Construction and Architecture TCE webinar? We’ve got you covered – click here. Let’s take a minute to define the construction industry.
What is the Construction Industry?
- Buildings: The Building construction subset is usually further divided into residential and commercial.
- Infrastructure: Infrastructure is often called heavy civil or heavy engineering that includes large public works, dams, bridges, highways, railways, water or wastewater and utility distribution.
- Industrial: Industrial construction includes refineries, process chemical, power generation, mills and manufacturing plants.
Macro-Level Construction Industry Trends
- Optimistic outlook for 2018: healthy predicted growth over the next 5 years, but the looming and ongoing trade war has made executives much more cautious than they were just 6 months ago
- Lack of skilled labor
- Overall project costs are rising across the industry
- According to according to Research and Markets, 43% of the industry is planning to increase IT investment in 2018-2019. (In part because executives, even at small firms, are starting to look to technology to solve their skill and labor shortages)
- To top it off, material costs are rising, even before tariff wars began
Construction Industry Tech Trends
- Due to a lot of remote workers and temporary locations, the industry is spending on secure, agile and fast connectivity to support businesses
- MPLS is getting replaced at a higher than average clip in construction, in part due to the need for agile connectivity. Cost pressure along with SD-WAN’s splash into the market are also drivers for MPLS replacement in construction beyond just business need.
- Everything is mobile in today’s construction firm; employees, equipment, locations, devices, etc. and in concert with this trend we are seeing more and more firms adopt mobile applications for productivity, safety, operations, building modeling, etc.
- Firms are looking to data and IoT solutions to reduce operating expenses and bolster margins, especially with so many high cost pieces of equipment
- There’s growth of connected job sites and wearable technology, that also integrates to construction management software to help monitor and analyze the job site
- Cloud and HW refresh occurring heavily in the space as companies look to go mobile, support technology driven initiatives
Challenge #1: Remote Everything
- Quickly and securely connecting work sites, sometimes rural and short term
- Securing and monitoring a network with explosive device growth
- Ensuring proper network capacity and architecture to support remote workers who have large, secured files and mission critical applications they need to access
- Ensuring proper communication and collaboration between full time, freelance, office and remote employees
Solutions for Remote Everything
Green Cloud: virtual desktop for those remote and freelance workers and DR to ensure continuity of this remote architecture
Flexential: delivers cloud and compute resources as well as professional services and compliant environments, purpose built to support organizations with remote and edge critical resources
Momentum: they have a purpose built UcaaS and collab solution for the construction industry with use cases specific for your construction clients and their remote workforce needs pre built into the platform
CenturyLink: delivers a cloud based UTM solution so no matter where your people are, their traffic can be protected and secured. very handy for workers who aren’t in the office
Broad Sky Networks: fleet management and remote connectivity solutions that align perfectly to the construction company needs around remote everything and agile connectivity demands
Comm-Core: as a service physical monitoring and security that can be easily moved from location to location as sites turn up and down. Helps reduce theft and insurance costs besides peace of mind and site control for management
MetTel: who can deliver unique solutions for remote workplaces; managed wifi, mutli-carrier mobile solutions, IoT platform, fleet management and a really cool mobile SD-WAN kit for quick turn up needs.
Challenge #2: Rising Costs
- Trade wars and tariffs make the entire market difficult to predict
- The void in labor job supply has caused a 4.5% rise in labor cost in the past 2 years alone
- Key building materials from fencing and forklifts, to raw materials like cement and aluminum had seen huge YoY price jumps BEFORE the tariffs
Companies are looking to new technologies to help combat these rising costs such as:
- AI/Big Data with IoT
- Cloud Technology
- BIM (Building Information Modeling)
- 3D Printing
Solutions for Rising Costs
MetTel again, is a natural fit for numerous use cases which we see in construction. For rising costs, they can provide fleet tracking solutions with consistent savings and sub 12 month ROI. Or TEM for mobile while consolidating plans all with MDM included
Granite: great play on aggregation + SD-WAN to find awesome connectivity savings while driving better network performance and agility
BCN: your aggregation and cost consolidation play for access and network
CATO: get connectivity, plus sd-wan, plus security at a lower cost than MPLS, which as we mentioned is being replaced left and right in construction
Expedient: for cloud and refresh, has hybrid offerings to right size between cloud and colo for your customers and free cost analysis tools so your customers can forecast savings before they even sign the deal
A new one to the portfolio, Centrics IT: they can deliver 3rd party maintenance contracts at a fraction of the cost of existing maintenance, especially legacy or end of support tech.
And finally, another new addition to the portfolio, Flockgen: they provide waste, energy and utility contract consolidation and replacement. Similar to the CentricsIT play for replacing maintenance contracts, you can help you customers find savings with those waste, energy and utility providers by simply getting a hold of their current contracts and providing them to Flockgen for analysis.
Challenge #3: Lack of IT Resources
- 22% of construction firms task IT activities to non-IT employees
- Cloud adoption in construction is the highest in any vertical; 5% higher than the next vertical
- 58% of SMB construction firms rely on mobile devices and apps in the field
- 1/3rd of construction firms have a mobile strategy in place, while 1/3rd have NO mobile platform at all
- The industry is experiencing a collision of increased technology investment and reliance, with an understaffed and legacy IT environment.
Some common failings related to this climate:
- Introducing new and perpetuating old Security risks
- Failing to meet business agility demands
- Compromising service performance
- Reduce or eliminate technology ROI
Solutions for Lack of IT Resources
There are so many different suppliers in the CNSG portfolio that can help with customers who are understaffed in IT. Some generic examples include:
- Hosted communications and call center technologies
- Cloud or managed anything from office 365 and managed workstations to handing off management of entire applications or systems
- SD-WAN to simplify or completely outsource network management
Some specific vendors:
CenturyLink: Security aaS perfect for remote and agile networks but also access and network, cloud, collab technologies in their portfolio, all available as a managed service
MetTel: A great fit for the industry, specifically for lack of IT resources, talk about managed wifi with analytics to deliver connectivity AND visibility, or a complete mobile platform with MDM included
Flexential: provides excellent managed services and professional services and can do so without a reliance on a specific vendor, meaning they can be flexible for your customers’ needs and I love their focus as a company on the edge
CentricsIT: who I brought up previously, their smart hands as a service offering is perfect for customers who have specific one-time project needs like a scramble site issue fix, as well as regular recurring needs that aren’t always easy to forecast such as site turn ups. remember larger firms can have dozens to hundreds of sites live at any time, all of which temporary and on their own timeline.
TPx: a one stop shop for managed everything; network, security, SD-WAN, cloud, office, etc.
Be sure to join us on October 3rd, 2pm eastern, for our review of the manufacturing industry on the next Converged Effect Industry Webinar. Get the presentation for this webinar and other great resources on the CNSG Partner Resource Center.
Posted on: August 28, 2018 By: CNSG Marketing
Static IP & SD-WAN / Why it’s a Critical Consideration is brought to you by BCN Telecom.
In today’s crowded landscape of SD-WAN solutions, sourcing the best option for your customers can be daunting. As always, asking the right questions, understanding the customer’s business environment and the outcomes they desire are the best place to start. In your discovery process you may not have considered the importance of your customer’s need to support Static IP requirements within the SD-WAN environment. In fact, it is a critical need for many customers and you’ll want to ensure that the SD-WAN solution you recommend is able to offer that support.
Ricardo Villa, BCN Director of IT & Managed Services explores it in more detail.
Why is full support for Static IP requirements so critical in an SD-WAN solution?
RV: Without full support for Static IPs, the SD-WAN solution becomes effectively a one-way session solution. Without Static IP support, your customer can only benefit from the full suite of SD-WAN features on outbound-sessions.
What is the downside of an SD-WAN solution that doesn’t support Static IP requirements?
RV: Without Static IP support, there is no way to perform inbound sessions over the SD-WAN overlay. If an SD-WAN solution doesn’t offer Static IP support, it in essence limits the possible features and services that your customer can eventually run over the SD-WAN.
How does support for Static IP in the SD-WAN overlay impact the need for your customer to re-number Static IP addresses?
RV: The availability of Static-IP at the SD-WAN level will eliminate the hassle that your customers can face in changing Static IP addresses when there is a change in the underlying access provider. When the Static IP is at the SD-WAN overlay level they won’t be faced with re-numbering Static IPs. Even if your customer physically moves to a new location, they will still be able to preserve their Static IPs via the SD-WAN overlay.
What specific customer environments/situations are successfully addressed with Static IP support?
RV: Static IP support enables a customer to host services from their location within the SD-WAN environment. For example, they may have an IP PBX, security camera, web server, email server, VPN concentrator, etc. Let’s take the case of a customer with an IP PBX system. If the SD-WAN solution is able to utilize the Static IP on their IP PBX, remote office workers will be able to connect their phones via the SD-WAN overlay, thus receiving the full benefits of SD-WAN. Without that Static IP support the remote worker has to connect to the IP PBX using one of the access circuit IPs. In doing so they are effectively bypassing the SD-WAN and all its inherent features completely.
How does the BCN SD-WAN solution support Static IP requirements within the SD-WAN environment?
RV: BCN is unique, in that our SD-WAN solution enables Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) support on the SD-WAN overlay and assigns Public Static IP addressing space to it. In doing so, it enables the BCN SD-WAN solution to accommodate the types of customer requirements described above, making the move to SD-WAN technology one that will have positive impact on their entire environment.