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Selling SD-WAN: Here’s How to Get in the Game

News flash: According to a recent report from SDxCentral, titled “SDxCentral and NFV Market Size Report 2015 Edition,” software-defined networking (SDN) revenue (combined with that of NFV) will exceed $105 billion per annum by 2020. Your customers will soon expect you to advise them on the ins and outs of advanced SDN solutions, i.e., SD-WAN, as time passes and they become more mainstream. If you’re not up-to-speed, now is the time to get your head in the game and learn all that you can about selling SD solutions.

To help you get your bearings, we asked our vendor Aryaka to provide us with actionable insights and advice on how to prepare yourself for this fast-growing market. Let’s break this down a bit ...

The (short) history …

The last major WAN breakthrough was with MPLS over a decade ago. While MPLS provides enterprises with a private global network, which mitigated performance problems inherent in public Internet and IP SEC WAN solutions, it was still not a perfect answer to multi location connectivity.

Today, SD-WANs offer a direct resolution of MPLS drawbacks in that, depending on the sophistication of the provider, they can be launched immediately (whereas MPLS takes months) and reduce congestion and packet-loss associated with the public Internet. With SD-WAN, enterprises gain access to Internet links with points of presence all over the globe that directly connect international offices, bypassing the congested middle-mile. As such, businesses can send mission-critical applications over this sped-up intelligent pathway, reducing packet loss and latency, while using the higher-latency public Internet for low-priority / effort traffic.

That’s the short version, but check out this blog on the future of global connectivity for a more in-depth history. Let’s move on to why your customers are going to increasingly inquire about SD-WAN.

The key drivers …

There are three primary drivers for SD-WAN adoption, as told to us by our friends at Aryaka. You must understand these business challenges before you begin selling SD-WAN solutions to your customers. Then you will be better-positioned to explain the benefits of a robust SD-WAN solution.

Disconnect between business and IT: An SD-WAN solution bridges the gap between business and IT because it’s an easy-to-comprehend technology. For instance, when pitching SD-WAN to the CEO of an enterprise, IT staff can explain that they will be able to control the applications that must perform at an accelerated pace while gaining the agility and Internet performance of a private network. As such, the CEO can decide which applications are mission-critical and enable their higher-level performance over other apps so that business workflow does not suffer. In effect, business and IT departments can more easily collaborate over this simple-to-understand networking solution.
Disparate offices: Since all mission-critical applications can be accessed through the cloud, an SD-WAN solution simplifies network operations at disparate branches. That is, with SD-WAN there is no need for international branches to host devices on-premises because all applications can be accessed through the cloud, eliminating the need for on-site infrastructure. For instance, Aryaka’s global SD-WAN solution includes a customer portal that employees can access from any location.
Capital expenditures: SD-WAN solutions delivered through the cloud help reduce capital expenditures. That is, on-premises infrastructure isn’t required to launch an SD-WAN model, as the vendor manages the network at a remote location. What’s more, Internet links with points of presence all over the world ensure improved uptime, so the threats and potential costs of downtime are reduced.

Now that we’ve covered a bit of history and some key drivers of SD-WAN adoption, let’s discuss how you as a partner can apply this knowledge to your sales strategy.

What to look for in an SD-WAN provider …

An ideal SD-WAN provider should boast Internet link functionality, a private core network and a private global network. Why? Because, in order for your customers to gain the most from their global connectivity solution, they need a fool-proof network that delivers best-in-class performance that bypasses the public Internet, reducing the likelihood of traffic congestion and packet loss.

What’s more, the SD-WAN provider you recommend to your customers should offer white-glove customer service so that they receive the support they need when handing off the management of their mission-critical applications to a third-party vendor. In other words, your SD-WAN vendor of choice should provide a fully integrated service so that your customers gain the performance, maintenance, management and security of an entire IT staff—all through a cloud-based platform.

Matching an SD-WAN vendor to a customer … When it comes to global networking connectivity, no two customers are alike. As such, you must understand your customers’ unique use-cases and networking challenges. From there, you can select the SD-WAN vendor and specific solutions that match their needs. Some questions you might ask to better understand your customers’ challenges are:

What are the issues you face with your current network infrastructure? Do you plan to deploy a hybrid WAN architecture (that is, are you opposed to moving fully to the cloud)? What is your cloud migration strategy, and what services and applications are you looking to invest in? What are your budget restrictions? Do you want to hire more IT staff or scale back? Tactical questions such as these will help you to understand your customers’ individualized needs.

Here’s the truth: You’re not going to learn selling SD-WAN from reading a single article.  The real key to your success is working side by side with a sales enablement strategist that can offer you the resources and education you need to succeed. AVANT is one such organization that is here to give a lending hand to partners looking to emerge in new markets, like SD-WAN.

Click here to learn more about our partner program and how to connect with best-in-class vendors such as Aryaka.