SD-WAN Cost Analysis
SD-WAN pricing includes a number of variables, all of which can contribute to the financial benefit of deploying an SD-WAN solution. Many organizations justify SD-WAN as a business case by calculating return-on-investment based on the time it takes for savings to exceed the cost of deploying and maintaining the solution.
Overall, it’s important for buyers to be mindful of the reputation and independent, credible third-party validation of the providers they choose. Technical requirements such as reach, latency, jitter, and other factors should be considered. And the technology provider’s service-level agreements (SLA) should be closely scrutinized.
What factors determine SD-WAN cost?
SD-WAN requirements vary significantly depending on business need and other factors.
Here are some of the most common considerations:
- How big is your organization’s network?
- What is your organization’s data-center-to-location ratio?
- Does your organization expect to reduce or add locations in the next 2-5 years?
- How dispersed is your workforce / What percentage of the workforce is remote?
- How do you expect your remote work employee numbers to change in the next 12-24 months?
- How important is secure communication between your locations and remote workers?
- How much traffic is directed to MPLS?
- What percentage of your business applications are cloud-delivered/cloud-accessible?
- How will this change in the next 12-24 months?
Based on your answers to the above, here’s a way to look at SD-WAN factors and create the right checklist to calculate needs:
- Number of sites
- Number of hubs (data centers)
- Monthly MPLS cost per site
- MPLS bandwidth need per site
- Anticipated percentage of MPLS links to replace
- Monthly internet cost per site
- Number of years for which to calculate ROI
How much does SD-WAN pricing vary?
Every SD-WAN solution has different requirements for hardware, but overall, you can expect to lower your cost of equipment by evolving from more traditional infrastructure to SD-WAN. The fewer needs you have, the less hardware investment needed. The less hardware needed, the less maintenance that needs to be performed on hardware.
A recently emerging, and very important, factor to consider when selecting an SD-WAN solution is its ability to “self-heal.” The internet is unpredictable, and network outages are sometimes unavoidable. Unreliable connectivity is a serious challenge, especially for large and distributed enterprises that span multiple countries and regions that grapple with internet impairment on a regular basis. But smaller businesses can experience the same challenge, especially if service providers don’t properly manage bandwidth loads during periods of high usage.
If an SD-WAN solution has to be reconfigured or manually intervened-upon every time there’s a wider internet connectivity issue, many attendant benefits of SD-WAN technology become negligible. Likewise, if security needs to be reconfigured every time a significant change on connectivity occurs—or even if there is a lag in protection while security scrambles to reconfigure itself—all of the advantages of an SD-WAN solution are compromised.
Fortunately, the best SD-WAN solutions are designed to bridge gaps in internet reliability to deliver exceptional application performance. These SD-WAN solutions can quickly self-heal when an outage or disruption impacts connectivity by switching to an alternative transport model. The best of them also integrate security and connectivity so that security dynamically adjusts policies and configurations simultaneously with connectivity changes, even if switching to another transport model.
Consider integrated security and self-healing attributes as critical when pricing out your SD-WAN solution.
How does SD-WAN-as-a-Service pricing work?
Another key consideration for your SD-WAN investment is whether your organization will follow a DIY (do-it-yourself) model of SD-WAN management, or work with a managed SD-WAN provider—that is, outsource the management of your communication network and its related applications to a third-party service provider.
Working with a managed SD-WAN provider will relieve some of the burden of hiring and training an internal team, as well as give you more options for installation services, maintenance, upgrades, monitoring, and troubleshooting. It will also introduce additional costs and scrutiny of SLAs; be sure to have a clear understanding of who (you or your provider) is responsible for what, especially in the event of network disruption.
Some organizations prefer to manage their own SD-WAN infrastructure. Organizations with this capability typically invest in a full team with the specialized skills needed to design and support complex SD-WAN deployments, as well as constantly manage connectivity and reliability.
As SD-WAN grows in popularity, more organizations are opting for SD-WAN solutions that provide integrated security, particularly as the number of cloud applications, personal devices, and unsecured connections affecting an organization goes up, and all organizations embrace a larger percentage of employees working remotely. It is advisable to invest in SD-WAN solutions that integrate security instead of requiring security as an overlay solution.
Understanding SD-WAN Cost Savings: ROI
The initial product investment in an SD-WAN solution is only one financial metric a business should use when considering overall SD-WAN pricing.
Fortinet has been recognized by Gartner and other industry analysts among the elite, leading providers of SD-WAN solutions. Fortinet Secure SD-WAN offers a world-class user experience, provides a path for protecting all edges, from data center to cloud, and reduces costs and complexity, leading to the most desirable TCO. Among many benefits, customers who use Fortinet SD-WAN report an overall network savings of 40% or higher, and a reduction of 80% of more in the number of malware instances reported.