SD-WAN is the Trojan Horse for CSPs to win in the road to a Dynamic Enterprise Edge.

Telcos once owned enterprise services, as they were, end-to-end, with PBXs, “Centrex”, (voice) VPNs, terminal gear, etc.  Then the pendulum, pushed by a combination of regulation, and competitive economics, swung away from Telcos, toward DIY.  They became hollowed out, deliverers of dumb, or at least relatively simple, pipes.

Today, there is a new opportunity, driven by uCPE at the edge router location, NFV, cloud services, and deep market shifts that are tearing the protected, closed worlds of enterprise datacenters and inter-location WANs apart.

SD-WAN should be an opportunity to change this

Public Cloud, distributed value chains, work-from-home, even Covid-19 are rendering old methods and architectures for corporate data and WAN obsolete.  Its is creating opportunity for new architectures that are far more flexible.  The main beneficiary, so far has been SDWAN.  On the positive side, this is a great start, if only SD-WAN and its myriad of potential benefits were better understood.  On the negative side, so far we have seen modest commitment to this opportunity and to innovation. Most CSPs offer SD-WAN as a managed service, along with some kind of firewall as a Service. They may call it “Security as a Service” but its a pig with lipstick.

Our industry must think bigger.  SD-WAN ought to be the Trojan horse into an environment of on-demand,managed network services, many implemented virtually on uCPE at what we prefer to refer to as the “Enterprise Edge”.  Yea, that name, too, is just SD-WAN with lipstick, but the strategic intent is critical: the goal ought to be vastly more than SD-WAN.

Eating an elephant, one bite at a time

So how do we get from SD-WAN to Enterprise Edge?  As they say about eating an elephant: a bite at a time; but with an end goal in mind.  We believe that the following are critical:

  1. Create a value proposition based on multi-tenant economics and on-demand economics, just as public cloud leaders have
  2. Invest in a flexible dynamic orchestration OSS architecture that is cheaply and easily extensible
  3. Price to win share and drive economies of scale and scope
  4. Invest in innovation: what are the next 10 dynamic services?
  5. Understand the weaknesses of today’s non-dynamic solutions.  Quantify if possible
  6. As Wayne Gretzky said ” skate to where the puck is going”

“You miss 100% of the shots you fail to take”

This is not a time to be timid. Gretzky the Great also said: “you miss 100% of the shots you fail to take”.  So, let’s learn from our friends in Canada, eh?  Focus on the future dynamic enterprise edge; use SD-WAN as one step along the way; exploit the many capabilities of the best SD-WAN systems – e.g.: beyond traffic steering, and build a business that exploits the very assets that CSPs have and no single enterprise can replicate – shared resources, a multi-tenant model, and a ready infrastructure for on-demand and real-time management.  that, of course, means actually having those assets. let’s get on with it and win this thing.

Image courtesy of Photo by Mike Coombes from FreeImages