With the rise of SD-WAN as a smarter way to provide flexible network services to support the applications, users, and employees of any organisation, it is worth noting that there are various pricing and cost considerations to be aware that there are no surprises. When deploying a service of this kind, it will be vital to the simple questions in each pricing area, so that you can more accurately assess pricing, and ultimately provide a degree of budget certainty:
What is the current size of the network to each location?
Where are the endpoints for each end of the service – office branches, manufacturing facilities, agent locations, home offices?
What are the costs for each network link or element? How many datacentres are in the core of your network infrastructure?
Do you plan on keeping each office location after the planned network migration? How many users will there be at each location?
What applications will they be using across the network? Are these applications bandwidth-intensive applications and what bandwidth will each need to function optimally?
Is the organisation likely to be adding locations or a significant number of staff? Is any of the locations, in an area that can only be served by mobile connectivity?
What are the various application types used across the business, and are any of them Cloud-hosted applications, e.g. Salesforce or Workday?
Are there any Internet access issues to consider?
Answering these questions will enable you to understand the type of access you will need at each location. The size of access to provide the application performance for all users at that site (a simple calculation that shows likely peak utilisation). And any capacity or access constraints provided by locations that might be remote or need non-standard connections enable them to be part of the SD-WAN.
Which locations need devices and in which sizes?
What security appliances, if any, will be required at each location? How will the equipment be deployed at each location?
How will the edge-network be supported once it is live?
Do you want to CAPEX the equipment or pay for a service every month? Will you manage the infrastructure yourself or use an external Partner to do that for you?
Who will maintain, control and optimise policies that enable networks to function optimally? What about any spares in the event of infrastructure outage?
These issues above will enable you to make an informed decision at the core of the service and give you costs associated with the actual SD-WAN hardware to run things.
It will also collate other core-service element costs around deployment, service support and sparing in the event of an outage – small things that are significant and all too often forgotten when considering pricing elements of an SD-WAN solution.
Will the SD-WAN infrastructure be integrated into the overall security architecture of the organisation?
How much is the SD-WAN infrastructure, and does the pricing include on-site support services?
What centralised security infrastructure will operate in the core?
Will the remote locations have any security appliances deployed?
Will remote users be upgraded or have different endpoint security software deployed?
Will there be multiple security vendors deployed to perform different and specific security tasks, e.g. web filtering or intrusion detection? Who will monitor, manage or maintain these security policies to ensure ongoing security and network compliance
Answering these questions and assessing the need for more robust security infrastructure, will find other essential and necessary costs to secure users. Their data and applications and ensure that that the benefits of an SD-WAN infrastructure are not lost as the organisation has to scramble to fix a security breach that ultimately costs a lot more.
Will the service be managed and administered by in-house staff?
Who will users call in the event of difficulties?
If it is a Managed Service agreement, what is the SLA?
Will there be any zero-touch deployments or use of an SD-WAN orchestrator tool? What is the monthly cost to run the service?
How long is the contract term, and does this come with any performance penalties in the event of outrage or poor performance?
Will there be a need to increase internal costs to support the external provider?
Will they perform the tasks associated with adding new users and locations?
Service management is a crucial area that significantly impacts the overall solution's cost and ultimately weighs heavily on pricing. An incomplete or poorly deployed SD-WAN solution, from a provider that has used low-quality hardware, can end up costing significantly more than the network service that it replaced and will fail to deliver any of the promised benefits.
One can see that there are many different facets of the SD-WAN infrastructure that can significantly impact the overall costs and pricing for the service.
Answering these questions and considering how the service will work, in practice, will enable you to construct a business case to ensure that the SD-WAN deployment us ultimately successful. It also provides that any Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) analysis will demonstrate that this has reduced.
The overall benefit to the business, coupled with better security, control and visibility, means that the SD-WAN is a successful addition to the infrastructure and business overall.