IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Positioning for the Future with SD-WAN

MNJ Technologies is looking to next-gen technologies to help customers leverage the connected world and advance their business goals. By Susan and Paul Kozak

ALL CUSTOMERS want pretty much the same things: better performance, better security, better networks. That’s why MNJ Technologies is focusing on next-generation technologies like software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN). Taking an agnostic, problem-solving approach to both hardware and connectivity, MNJ provides custom SD-WAN solutions to customers.

MNJ aims to stay ahead of trends and help our customers take advantage of the increasingly connected world to enhance productivity and achieve better business outcomes. SD-WAN improves connectivity while lowering costs, enabling businesses to better consume and use the growing volume of information available. Launching our SD-WAN practice in 2016, MNJ was well positioned to take advantage of the subsequent upswing in SD-WAN interest, leading to significant growth for our business.

Customers told our engineers they were frustrated with lack of performance visibility and by being forced to utilize high-cost circuits. Once we determined that SD-WAN could address that problem, we researched the providers and partnered with a number of leading vendors. Then we went to work to determine what a successful deployment of this technology encompasses.

The success or failure of any project depends on how well your engineers understand the technology, so we invested in both training and engineer certification. In addition, vendors provided gear that enabled MNJ to build a lab for proofs of concept, demos, and training.

From a sales perspective, we developed questions to guide the customer conversation: What is your bandwidth usage today? What technologies are in use that require guaranteed performance? What are your biggest pain points? What percentage of your overall budget is consumed by connectivity? Are OpEx or CapEx payments more appealing?

Today we provide all three pillars of the SD-WAN solution—circuits (connectivity), SD-WAN hardware and software, along with installation/management/monitoring. By offering SD-WAN via an OpEx monthly recurring revenue model, we provide financial flexibility and easy-to-understand, predictable costs. From a proof-of-concept perspective, our lab can be used to compare SD-WAN providers so customers can see for themselves how each would work.

Ideal candidates for SD-WAN have a minimum of three connected sites. SD-WAN best practice dictates that diverse paths of connectivity be utilized, as SD-WAN doesn’t provide performance improvements if the information is being delivered over a single pipe. In addition, single carrier connectivity could result in availability issues in case of a carrier outage.

Advice from the Trenches

If you want to get started with SD-WAN, here are some things we’ve learned:

  • Work closely with the manufacturer and the customer to set expectations. The gains don’t happen overnight just because you throw an SD-WAN appliance into the mix. You have to optimize the network based on everything from the carrier’s ability to provide consistent quality bandwidth to deciding the course of action if something goes down.
  • SD-WAN has a different approach to networking and as such has a learning curve. In-depth discussions with customers along with the creation of a deployment plan can help identify potential pitfalls, streamlining deployments.  
  • Train salespeople to recognize clients who could benefit from SD-WAN.
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