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How to compare DIY vs Co-Managed vs Fully Managed SD WAN?

Written by Robert Sturt

Robert Sturt is Managing Director of Netify, an SD-WAN, SASE security & connectivity market network where you can login free to compare and shortlist vendors.

icon-cloud@2xHow to compare DIY vs Co-Managed vs Fully Managed SD WAN?

IT teams should consider vendors with CNaC (Cloud Native Architecture) which allows the Enterprise to leverage all capabilities.

Is procuring managed SD WAN from a large telco with SD WAN solution partnerships a good strategy? We continue to talk about the Cloud Native Architecture (CNac) model and how the Enterprise should not need to choose between DIY, co-managed and fully managed SD WAN.

When outsourcing your WAN, agile features such as orchestration, Zero-touch deployment and simple change requests should not be lost. As we continue to research vendor solutions, we are finding that the CNaC model begins to blur the requirement to define DIY, self-service or managed services.

Is there a need to decide whether your business requires DIY or full outsourcing upfront?

What if you could decide on any given day or hour how your IT team needs to interact with the vendor.

Is the change simple? Then go ahead and use the portal. Do you need certain elements pre-configured with advice? The resources should be available without having to wait for some kind of elaborate legacy ticketing process designed to hinder everyone's progress.

Does SD WAN stop at co-managed?

In so many ways, Software WAN does not fit with traditional managed services approach simply because fully outsourcing every aspect removes the key benefit of agility. There are numerous reports and articles stating that the SD WAN managed services market is valued at several billion USD, which clearly suggests IT teams have an appetite for outsourcing their WAN.

And this is without considering the extra revenue from infrastructure underlay services. At Netify, the team are leaning toward CNaC as the way forward to deliver managed services without removing Software WAN agility. In order to realise management with control, the vendor must work with the deployment and end-to-end feature stack. The end result of SD WAN managed services should be a capability rather than a solution.

In more defined terms, the SD WAN platform capability should offer the business everything they need from a full SD WAN deployment. Upfront, the proposed solution may consist of pre-configured and deployed hybrid WAN but with the ongoing support needed to make future changes across the configuration. IT teams should also maintain the ability to configure and change user policies, Firewall access and security, configure WAN optimisation for application performance, add static routes and more but all without having to engage the provider.

One example of legacy WAN process surrounds the most simple of changes, adding a static route. The typical process involves:

  • Place an order with the service provider
  • Order validation and acceptance
  • Order progresses
  • 72 working hour turnaround

And yet, the IT team are typically aware of how to add the route - they just don't have the interface to make the change. With this in mind, the move to fully managed SD WAN must incorporate elements of co-managed to ensure agility is not lost.

What if the IT team requires additional support to action co-managed changes?

The CNaC deployment means that the vendor maintains the underlying stack together with the actual infrastructure of the SD WAN service deployments. In straight forward terms, the vendor support team is able to control and change all elements as a member of your co-managed team.

This simplicity means that the vendor support team becomes part of your IT resources without need to follow an out of date ticketing system. If you need advice, contact support and deploy later. If you are confident of the change, go ahead and use the management interface.

Should your SD WAN offer self-service, co-managed and fully managed as one proposition?

I appreciate opinions may differ here depending on your perspective. The complexity of IT requirements should translate into simplicity when dealing with WAN elements. This is the 'As a Service' model, meaning users can communicate and consume resources without the need to bolt on expensive and complex service elements as we have done in the past. Whether or not you subscribe to the all-in-one solution or integrating specialist vendors and providers per need, the stack should be brought together under one interface.

With an SD WAN management interface, IT teams should make a choice whether to self-serve, co-manage or fully manage their WAN without removing agility and subscribing to any management tiers.

Resolving problems with the CNaC approach

When vendors approach managed services with control of the complete cloud stack, there is no need to interface with tier 2 or tier 3 support to bring in expertise. With in-house knowledge and control, issues and problems can be progressed and fixed much more efficiently than say a telco support team partnering with an SD WAN vendor. With CNaC, running the software stack means the knowledge is internal without the need to involve any outside parties. The result is dramatic resolution times and


In our earlier article this week, we discussed CNaC (Cloud Native-Architecture) in the context of IT teams considering procuring fully managed SD WAN. We concluded that when an IT team is intent on moving from a legacy managed WAN (think MPLS) to Software-Defined managed WAN; there are certain 'less obvious' aspects which must be considered.

As an opening statement, we wrote that providers offering managed SD WAN using the same processes and workflows associated with their previous MPLS VPN services are somewhat missing the point. And this is the majority of major telco offerings where their teams have transitioned from delivering Cisco router edge devices to delivery of an SD WAN edge without significant process change.

With the above written, and not to create too much negativity, there are certain large telco service providers where there is development across adding Software-driven capability. We note releases of in-house security capabilities to complement site to site VPN, which is following the original open-source nature of SDN. At Netify, we would strongly recommend considering the CNaC approach alongside the traditional telco.

If your business is engaging with a telco offering fully managed SD WAN via one of the leading vendors, careful attention must be given to their internal processes. There's a need to understand:

  • What control do you have?
  • How are simple changes actioned via the telco?
  • Does the service provider interface with the complete stack?
  • How is network performance reporting configured and delivered?
  • How are urgent changes implemented?


Robert Sturt Last Updated: 19.08.2020