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SD-WAN overchoice stress & canned tomatoes

03/03/2021 by Arjen Hoekstra

A giant supermarket shelf full of jars with tomato sauce in different sizes.

After a recent meeting with a customer to discuss SD-WAN solutions and the high number of vendors in this marketplace (over 80 SD-WAN edge technology providers according to Gartner), I experienced the same feeling that I have every now and then during the holidays.

When searching for a can of tomatoes in an Italian supermarket, I get overwhelmed by the wall filled with dozens of near-identical options. On what basis do I decide which one to choose? Should I take into account the other ingredients in my pasta sauce when making my decision? And very importantly, am I getting the bang for my buck? On top of that, supermarket employees don’t seem available to provide guidance. But even if someone were ready to help, how successfully could I hope to communicate my preferences and intentions to them with my limited language skills? At this point, I’m almost tempted to just close my eyes, pick a random can from the shelf, hope for the best, and be done with it.

The SD-WAN world is, of course, far more complex than this. Making a quick choice, only to find out later that the solution does not completely fulfill the requirements – or even worse, that it can negatively impact the business in an unforeseen way – isn't the best thing to do.

To make a proper choice, you have to do your homework and ask the following questions:

  • What is your current network situation and what do I expect from my future network? What about your current setup works well, and where are the bottlenecks and limitations? What is your company’s strategy in regard to Digitization, Cloud, and Security?
  • What applications are in use, which ones are business-critical, and how critical are they? Do you have plans to roll out new applications?
  • Which geographical regions do you plan to expand business into? Do you expect mergers, acquisitions, or divestments?
  • Do you want the provider to fully or partially manage the SD-WAN solution, or should you take on this role yourself?

Next, you will have to find a partner to help you choosing the solution that fits your needs. The partner’s knowledge and experience, along with their ability to present you with a carefully curated selection of technical options, is key. An unending plethora of different SD-WAN technologies and solutions probably won’t help you. The same applies to any single SD-WAN solution that claims to fit all your needs. A clear shortlist of several SD-WAN solutions from leading vendors – one that takes your specific requirements into account – will allow you to make your choice in a stress-free manner.

To revisit my previous analogy: that homemade sauce tasted reasonably good. Nonetheless, my family ended up going with the daily dinners from the local Trattoria for the remainder of the week – a testament to the chef's expertise in selecting the right “pomodori” for the right dish.

Want to avoid falling victim to the paradox of choice when it comes to finding the right SD-WAN approach for your company? Then watch our short video and contact us.

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Arjen Hoekstra

CTO Connectivity Services and Senior Sales Consultant at Deutsche Telekom Global Business Solutions Netherlands