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How to Untangle Operational Complexity to Maximize SD-WAN Service Revenues

Contributed by Ofer Farkash, Product and Solutions Marketing Director, Amdocs.

How to untangle operational complexity to maximize SD-WAN service revenues

As the effects of the pandemic and rapid digital transformation spur enterprises to deploy SD-WAN services, Ofer Farkash, product and solutions marketing director at Amdocs shares his perspectives on where the complexities lie and how to overcome them.

How has COVID-19 been a gamechanger for SD-WANs, and where is the market heading with the technology?

When the pandemic hit and the pace of virtualization took off in ways no one ever expected, SD-WAN became the first port of call for enterprises that needed to increase their inter-office network capacity as they moved workloads and applications into the cloud.

According to the analysts at Futuriom, in 2020 alone, the market grew by 34%. Needless to say, this
makes SD-WAN a significant opportunity for CSPs. But if they want to fully exploit the opportunity, they first need to untangle a range of service complexities in a way that allows them to deliver managed SD-WAN services efficiently and head off a fragmented field of competitors.

How should CSPs differentiate themselves to position themselves for success?

As with any burgeoning market, SD-WANs have attracted an array of players, ranging from pure-play vendors through systems integrators to hyperscale cloud companies. In such a competitive environment, differentiation is critical if you want to capture a slice of the lucrative pie.

In a recent survey conducted by Heavy Reading, they found the most popular options for differentiation to be customizable SD-WAN and security service bundles, enabling customers to select from a set of vendor solutions, and enterprise self-service portals. But because a ‘one size fits all’ solution simply doesn’t exist, if CSPs are to address all their different customer needs, use cases, preferences and budgets, they’ll have to onboard a range of SD-WAN and security providers. The survey also revealed that more than half of CSPs offer their enterprise customers two SD-WAN vendor options, while close to a quarter make three to four different solutions available.

Another point of differentiation is the customer portal. More and more CSPs now understand the importance of having such a feature in their managed SD-WAN service offering because fundamentally, customers expect the same ease of use and speed of spinning up of new services from their CSPs that they are used to from their cloud providers.

It’s almost ironic that the network services that enterprises use for their digital transformation and modernization are often sold, contracted and ordered in a high-touch way that relies on manual intervention. We see the results in long service delivery times and a significant impact on customer experience. So when it comes to seizing the SD-WAN opportunity, there are some unique challenges for CSPs.

What’s the extent of these operational challenges?

To garner a bigger slice of the managed SD-WAN services ‘pie’, CSPs need to expand into more market segments and address a wider number of use cases, which means offering an ever-wider range of features, prices and supported vendors. And of course, they won’t just want to offer SD-WANs but also a wide array of other enterprise services – requiring them integrate more and more value-added services within their existing operational infrastructure.

So there’s little surprise that 9 out of 10 CSPs in the Heavy Reading survey found the resulting operational complexity challenging or very challenging, while 8 out of 10 said they struggle with limited ability to offer a customer experience that’s on par with the hyperscalers.

There are two main reasons for this.

The first is a proliferation of tools to manage SD-WAN services as more vendors get onboarded – commonly, CSPs use anything between three and five management tools. The other is that, because shortcuts have been taken to get services to market quickly, they’re often not fully integrated with the CSP’s operational and business support systems.

This leads to disjointed, fragmented SD-WAN silos and connections that require manual ‘stitching’ for the provisioning of new services, with the resulting ‘spaghetti’ connections preventing end-to-end automation and leading to drop-offs in the speed of service delivery. This affects both the customer experience and hampers CSPs’ ability to pivot quickly towards new opportunities in the marketplace.

How do CSPs bring their SD-WAN services to a level that enables them to fully exploit their investments in new networks and technologies?

CSPs already understand that to maximize such a lucrative opportunity they must transform how they manage SD-WAN services − urgently. For example, more than 8 out of 10 CSPs in the Heavy Reading Survey advocated a single, vendor-agnostic orchestration system that ties the ‘spaghetti’ together and dramatically simplifies the operational complexities in a multi-solution environment.

One such system is Amdocs’ End-to-End Service and Network Orchestration solution (E2ESNO), which centrally aggregates the management of all SD-WAN and associated services across all aspects of service lifecycle management – from service design, planning and deployment to configuring, orchestrating and assuring networks and services.

By using open-source and vendor-agnostic service modeling, it reduces the complexity and cost of integrating new vendors, partners and offers. And with its unified service and resource inventory, the solution enables closed-loop service assurance, providing enhanced visibility and control, helping operations personnel correlate SD-WAN network underlay and service overlay events more easily while managing service performance end-to-end across multiple systems and domains.

So not only do CSPs benefit from greater operational efficiency, speed and adaptability, but they can also reduce costs, boost their infrastructure’s scalability and tap into new revenue streams.

Read Amdocs solution brief to learn more.