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Managed Services Providers Prepare as SD-WAN Hits the Mainstream - #3

Posted by Chris Poupart on Jun 7, 2018
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This three-part blog series looks at why MSPs need to aggressively engage in the exploding SD-WAN market, ongoing vendor consolidation, the competition from carriers, and how MSPs can partner to reduce their risks while speeding time to market.
Read Part 1 and Part 2

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High Cost of Entry For MSPs

Even as SD-WAN enters mainstream adoption, customers are still voicing a number of concerns about the technology and the market. According to Gartner, the number one concern, expressed by 49% of respondents, was a lack of familiarity with the technology.

This was followed closely by concerns over vendor stability (44%), performance and reliability, ROI, and the absence of a clear market leader.

The first concern represents an opening for MSPs. Customer demand for education around SD-WAN is significant, and whatever provider fills that demand will hold the inside track when the customer begins adopting the technology.

MSPs, though, share a number of their customer’s concerns as they look to incorporate SD-WAN sales into their business. Many are wary of picking the wrong horse in a market that’s still shaking out. There are questions about the perceived reliability of SD-WAN technology and the underlying broadband network.

What’s causing most MSPs to pause are the financial and technical barriers to entry into the market. Ramping up can be a complex and expensive proposition — technical and sales teams have to be recruited and onboarded, support capabilities established, vendor certifications completed, marketing campaigns created, and so on down the list.

Partnering to Reduce Risks and Speed Time to Market

Partnering with an existing solutions provider is an attractive alternative to building an in-house SD-WAN practice. It minimizes start-up costs and technical barriers, allowing MSPs to begin selling efforts quickly with less burden on their business.

All partners do not have equal capabilities, however. The task of choosing an SD-WAN partner should not be undertaken lightly. MSPs need to carefully review perspective partners in several areas:

  • Technology. Has the partner chosen a leading SD-WAN vendor as their underlying technology? Are they certified, and do they have a track record of successful installations? Do they have a solid relationship with their broadband providers?
  • Application expertise. Does the partner have a specialization, such as UCaaS or Security? Can they provide an end-to-end solution, from application to network?
  • Engineering, design and technical support. How many certified engineers does the partner have? Can they provide 24/7 technical support? Where is their support center located?
  • Sales and marketing assistance. Does the partner provide campaign assistance, lead-generation and inside sales support?

Embracing SD-WAN 

Can MSPs afford to wait and see how the SD-WAN market settles before jumping in? Almost certainly not. The current 69% growth rate will slow, and incumbent carrier and edge router providers will mount a counter-offensive. MSPs must take the initiative now.

Perhaps the biggest reason for MSPs not to hesitate lies with customers. According to Gartner, 93% of companies surveyed plan to use SD-WAN in the next two years, and 73% are already piloting or deploying it.

If MSPs are still waiting to get on the train, it may already be leaving the station.

Topics: SD-WAN, Channel trends, Insider