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Building SD-WAN as a Service with Sproute

Have you built your own WAN recently? It’s not the easiest thing in the world. You have a lot of technology challenges to overcome with hardware and software to start with. You also have a lot of decisions to make even after you buy the right equipment. How will you ensure circuit diversity? How should you negotiate with providers to get the best deal? And who is going to do all the hard work of figuring out how best to administer the whole thing?

If the answer to any of the above questions was “SD-WAN”, you’d be half right. SD-WAN does a great job of solving the technical challenges. But it doesn’t do a lot to help with the other administrative side of things. Sure, it’s easy to program the device to fail over to different links. But you still have to go purchase those circuits from a provider. If you’re relying on 4G/LTE backup, you have to purchase that as well. And you have to maintain everything regardless of what platform you’re using. What’s needed is a different way to approach SD-WAN from a service perspective.

Sprouting Up

I had a chance to talk to a new company called Sproute last month that is trying to change a lot of the difficulties behind SD-WAN. Instead of worrying about buying all the hardware and software and then implementing it with the administrative overhead mentioned above, Sproute is making it easy by doing all the hard work for you.

Founded by talent from Cisco, Juniper, Procket, and more, Sproute wants to step in as a provider that will do the heavy lifting for you. The SPAN platform is how they bring a modern, secure solution that is horizontally scalable and distributed while still easy to manage and configure. By taking care of the provider contracts and IT challenges, Sproute can use SPAN to extend SD-WAN capabilities to small offices as well as organizations without dedicated IT teams. If that describes your organization, Sproute is definitely worth a look.

My first thought was for K-12 education institutions. These organizations are often poorly funded, lacking in IT staff, and located in areas that make building a real WAN very difficult for a variety of reasons. With a solution like Sproute, all you need to do is sign up and install the SPAN CPE devices. Everything else is done. Once the devices are registered and running, Sproute takes care of the rest behind the scenes.

Management happens in the cloud, so it can be done from anywhere. Automation and orchestration are built in to the solution to allow for force multiplication for both your administrators and Sproute’s team as well. This kind of software control allows for things like policy-based assignment and dynamic path steering to ensure that your critical traffic goes where it is supposed to go in the way that you want it to go there. As more applications move to running in the cloud, such as Adobe or Office365, this level of control ensures your users are always running at peak performance and your business can stay operational even if there are outages or slowdowns on the public Internet.

Growth Model

So, what does this mean for the future of Sproute and other SD-WAN as a Service vendors? The hope is that they can capture the market of people that are late to the game of SD-WAN deployments. There are a variety of reasons why companies haven’t jumped on the SD-WAN bandwagon yet. Mostly it comes down to inexperience and price. For the former, Sproute is perfectly positioned to offer the best product they can for the customers that don’t have the time or talent to make SD-WAN happen for them.

The money issue will be a sticking point for the remainder of their potential customers. SD-WAN isn’t cheap for sure. but having a managed solution means you are effectively trading expertise for dollars. As we’ve seen with cloud computing, people are willing to make that trade if the price is right and the outcome is useful for customers. But Sproute (and others) are going to have to price their service so that people are willing to pay for it alongside the cloud. That number will determine how successful they are in the near future.

Bringing It All Together

Sproute is taking the right road for someone that is just getting into the SD-WAN market. The original SD-WAN providers are being bought up left and right. The companies with huge R&D are firing on all cylinders to get a solution working. What customers want is not a bill of materials and well wishes to make it work. They want turnkey SD-WAN that they don’t have to think about. And that means they need a provider to make that happen for them. Sproute is going to get some customers in the near future that will help them solve the long-term viability questions around SD-WAN as a Service. And from there, growth is going to happen for sure.

For more information about Sproute and their SD-WAN solution, make sure to visit http://sproute.com/

About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at https://networkingnerd.net/

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