SPs and MSSPs Must Differentiate SD-WAN Offerings with Holistic Services

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SD-WAN has been one of the most rapidly adopted technologies of the last decade. According to a 2020 IDG Research Services report, SD-WAN adoption increased from 35% to 54% between 2017 and 2019. And a recent IDG surveyindicated that 95% of respondents expect to shift to SD-WAN within the coming two years. 

This trend results from ongoing digital innovation efforts, recently accelerated by the need to support a growing number of remote workers, not just due to COVID—which served as a catalyst—but because organizations intend to support remote workers and expand branch offices well into the future.

This trend creates two specific challenges. First, not every organization that wants to take advantage of SD-WAN has the technical resources in place to select, deploy, and manage a sizeable SD-WAN solution. And second, given the number of vendors, choosing the right solution can be difficult.

A Security-Driven Networking Approach to SD-WAN

Combining security with SD-WAN can be especially difficult. Few SD-WAN vendors offer a solution that includes a full suite of enterprise-grade security. Instead, most either offer extremely basic (and largely unvalidated) security or, worse, leave security up to the consumer. Even fewer offer a security solution that works seamlessly with SD-WAN connectivity to ensure that dynamic environments don’t leave security tools struggling to keep up—creating security gaps that are easy to exploit.

This issue is becoming increasingly urgent as security threats such as ransomware continue to escalate, just as traditional network perimeters—and the full stack of security they provide—begin to disappear. As a result, organizations looking to mature their cybersecurity posture while also adopting SD-WAN as a solution are looking to MSSPs to fill in the gaps. But to remain competitive and meet rising customer demands, MSSPs must offer best-in-class services, including providing advanced security. To do this, they must look for partners that enable them to provide robust managed SD-WAN services.

To create a holistic services package, MSSPs must find vendor partners that provide a range of SD-WAN solutions designed to not only enable and secure their clients today but well into the future. MSSPs looking to deliver a unique offering need rapidly and easily deployable solutions that offer high margins and scale quickly to large customer bases to maximize the return on investment. And while providing advanced protection as part of that solution is highly valuable, they need a partner that helps them more than just connectivity and security. In other words, they need a partner whose business model enables them to provide advanced services while also driving their business agility.

Critical Factors in Selecting an SD-WAN Vendor

Factors that MSSPs should carefully consider when choosing an SD-WAN solution for their customers should include:

The Need for Performance

Today’s remote workforce is all about user experience, which means they require networking solutions designed to ensure consistent operational efficiency. Ultimately, this requires an SD-WAN solution that is responsive to issues like latency and enables granular application access from branch offices and home networks, such as advanced cloud on-ramp and application steering to optimize application performance and user experience. Whether hosted on-premise or in the cloud, an ideal SD-WAN solution takes an application-aware approach to manage and monitor traffic to ensure the best user experience.

Converging Speed and Security

Performance alone is only half of the battle. Security and networking must work together as a unified solution to ensure consistent protection even when connections undergo constant optimization. But that security cannot function in isolation. It must also work seamlessly with protections deployed in other parts of the distributed network to ensure that policies and enforcement follow data, applications, and transactions end to end.

Cloud-based applications, for example, store, transmit, and process sensitive information, making them a primary threat actor target. And the security deployed in the cloud to protect applications and cloud infrastructures must share and correlate threat information with the protection embedded in SD-WAN to prevent the spread of malware. The seamless handoff of security policies and protocols between different network environments helps avoid bottlenecks of security that can compromise performance.

To deliver competitive services, MSSPs must build security directly into their networking solutions to ensure seamless visibility, control, and responsiveness along the entire data path. This strategy, where networking and security function and a unified solution, is known as security-driven networking. It enables MSSPs to converge their customers’ networking and security needs rather than treat them as separate line items to ensure a single strategy for maintaining performance and protection across distributed and highly dynamic environments.

Consistent Security Across the WAN, Cloud, and Thin Edges are a Competitive Differentiator

Providing consistent security-driven networking across any SD-WAN deployment, whether from the WAN or thin edge out to the cloud, enables MSSPs to extend and expand their client’s network flexibility. Providing their clients with the flexibility to choose where to enable security, whether on-premises or in the cloud, helps them be more competitive. They can address more use cases and easily scale and adapt as customer environments change. Integrating security with their networking strategy allows their clients to have a consistent security posture across all edges, enabling them to confidently build the solutions they need without compromising on performance, flexibility, or security.

SPs and MSSPs Select Fortinet Secure SD-WAN

MSSPs need to provide services like SD-WAN to their customers that not only meet basic needs for connectivity and protection but can dynamically adapt to changing requirements, including increasing performance needs, evolving and expanding network environments, and escalating application and user experience requirements. A growing number of SPs and MSSPs are turning to Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to power new managed services for their customers.

It is essential that they carefully consider the solutions now available and ask the following three questions: Does this solution seamlessly integrate security and connectivity to ensure that there are never any lapses in protection? Will this solution provide optimal user experience, now and in the future, even as network strategies and infrastructures evolve? Will it enable me to deliver a wide range of advanced services that will enhance my customers’ digital innovation efforts? How a solution answers these questions will provide the assurances you need that this is a vendor partnership that will help you take your SD-WAN business to the next level.

Learn how Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN Solution uses a security-driven networking approach to improve user experience and simplify operations at the WAN Edge.


Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.