SD-WAN Deployment Models

Learn about the different deployment options and their pros and cons and which option is right for you.

What are the various types of SD-WAN Deployment Models?

There are three basic types of SD-WAN deployments: Internet-based SD-WANs, Telco and MSP Managed Service SD-WANs, and SD-WAN as-a-Service. The performance needs of your global users and applications, the skillset of your in-house team, and your appetite for taking on the job of building and managing an SD-WAN will determine which deployment option is best for your business.

  1. Internet-based SD-WAN (Do-it-Yourself, or DIY)

    Internet-based SD-WANs, also known as DIY, use appliances at each company location, either behind routers or replacing them as the branch connection to the enterprise network and to the internet (SD-WAN appliances can also collapse the typical branch stack by replacing appliances for WAN optimization and firewalls).

    Network traffic is forwarded over legacy MPLS links or the internet depending on performance considerations and established policies. While using the internet to complement MPLS offers a low-cost, flexible, and rapid deployment option, and makes it easier to connect users to cloud/SaaS applications, performance of the public internet is often spotty, particularly over longer distances and in parts of the world where the internet is less reliable. Latency, packet loss and jitter are inherent to the internet and these issues are aggravated with distance.

    Internet-based SD-WANs also leave the burden of managing the WAN on IT, and you still may have to invest in WAN optimization and other technologies to have a fully functioning network.

  2. Telco or MSP Service SD-WAN

    With a managed service SD-WAN, the customer pays a service provider to install and deliver connectivity, as well as any appliances the service may require. The managed SD-WAN is a value-added service and may come with service level agreements (SLAs), but the managed service is typically deployed using some of the same hardware to support internet-based SD-WANs and will typically rely on the public internet for access to cloud/SaaS applications, meaning the same caveats apply: application performance and user experience will suffer over greater distances. In addition, the telco or MSP (Managed Service Provider) offering the managed service will rely on hardware and software from one or more networking and security vendors, creating support handoffs that result in a less than stellar experience.

  3. Managed SD-WAN as-a-Service

    With SD-WAN as-a-Service, which we call a Cloud-First WAN, companies acquire SD-WAN much the way they buy cloud services today, using a consumption model. Instead of constructing their own SD-WAN using the internet, or having a service provider deliver that same tech, next-generation networks such as Aryaka’s Cloud-First Managed SD-WAN combines the security and reliability of a private network with the flexibility, low cost, and quick deployment of the internet to deliver a superior connectivity solution and support experience.

    Businesses can rely on a fast and secure private core network without having to build out a heavy infrastructure and manage additional hardware at the edge, making it simple to expand branch offices or move locations as they please, without compromising on reliability, and application performance, or security.

    Enabling this faster connectivity through a global private network layered with WAN optimization ensures every employee around the world has seamless access and gets consistent performance when accessing mission-critical applications anywhere in the world.

Which Enterprise Infrastructure is right for you?

Not sure which SD-WAN is right for your business? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of the different deployment options.

Managed SD-WAN as-a-Service:

Pros Cons
  • Private network connectivity
  • Reliable performance and consistent latencies
  • Direct IaaS (Internet-as-a-Service)/PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)/SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) connectivity
  • Works with all applications: on-premises, cloud, and SaaS
  • Built-in WAN optimization
  • Network and application monitoring
  • Deployment in hours or days including Last Mile Services
  • Zero CapEx/Lower TCO
  • Not ideal for IT departments wanting to construct their own network infrastructure
  • Offered by only a handful of providers

Telco or MSP SD-WAN:

Pros Cons
  • Reliable performance and consistent latencies within region
    • Direct IaaS/PaaS/SaaS connectivity
    • Fully managed service with support
  • SD-WAN is deployed as an overlay which may create a less visible underlay (transport network), impacting SLAs
  • May not be delivered as a PoP-centric service, impacting potential SASE integration
  • Provider may need to partner with others for out-of-region connectivity
  • May require customer to pay for additional functionality
  • May lack connectivity to some cloud/SaaS services
  • May not include WAN optimization

Internet-based SD-WAN

Pros Cons
  • Rapid deployment and cost savings if internet-only
  • Network and application monitoring
  • Great for regional deployments
  • Deploys in days
  • Most likely not delivered as a PoP-centric service, impacting potential SASE integration except via a 3rd party security vendor
  • Inherits weaknesses of both internet (performance) and MPLS (cost, non-flexible, deployment times) with the enterprise responsible for all link contracting
  • Does not address global application performance issues
  • Zero CapEx
  • Lack of support for cloud/SaaS optimization

What are the key SD-WAN use cases?

SD-WAN supports a set of critical enterprise use cases. Most organizations leverage the technology or managed service for more than one.

  • Enabling a Hybrid Workplace: SD-WAN improves application performance and provides direct cloud connectivity to simplify hybrid and multi-cloud initiatives. Flexible network security protects users, devices, and applications no matter where they connect from, whether it’s on-site or from home.
  • Providing a Secure Internet Access: SD-WAN enables remote users secure access to SaaS, IaaS and internet when working from anywhere. It reduces complexity in configuration and operations.
  • Enabling Cloud Migration: SD-WAN simplifies cloud migration by providing out of the box direct connectivity to leading IaaS providers, SaaS application acceleration and multi-cloud connectivity.
  • Transitioning from MPLS to SD-WAN: SD-WAN provides a seamless migration path from MPLS. SD-WAN can co-exist with MPLS or completely replace it with a high quality fully meshed Layer 2 transport core with comparable QoS but with reduced cost and complexity.
  • Improving Application Performance: SD-WAN provides direct connectivity to SaaS providers. The solution includes a fully meshed private core network with over multiple PoPs around the world, to mitigate the effect of latency on application performance.
  • Improving UCaaS Performance: SD-WAN recognizes and marks UCaaS traffic, steers it optimally and dynamically across internet access links and through the core infrastructure, minimizing packet loss and latency, to deliver an optimized user experience.
  • Improving or Enabling China Connectivity: SD-WAN may deliver optimal coverage of key locations in China, supporting both inbound and outbound data.