Why Organizations Don’t Want SD-WAN Offered by Their ISP or Telco

Lock in is just one issue with getting SD-WAN from your carrierEarly adopters have found that getting SD-WAN services from their phone or Internet carrier doesn’t deliver the biggest bang for the buck. A recent Gartner survey unveils the problems for those looking at SD-WAN offerings.

The software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) market continues to grow at a phenomenal pace. SD-WAN solutions only started coming on the market in 2015, but the technology was already seeing mass adoption in 2017. Gartner predicts that 2018 and 2019 will be key years for growth as early adopters continue rapid uptake of the technology.

With a market this hot, many vendors are jumping on the SD-WAN bandwagon. Back in 2015, all SD-WAN deployments were “do-it-yourself”—the organizations purchased, implemented and managed the technology. By early 2016, managed services providers (MSPs) had begun offering SD-WAN services, and by mid-2016 traditional telecom carriers and Internet service providers had introduced SD-WAN products. Research firm IDC has predicted that by 2020 the majority of SD-WAN services will be provided by the companies that sell phone and broadband.

Often it appears that getting another service from a vendor you’re already paying is easy and convenient. They may even bundle the product in with phone or Internet, suggesting there is a discount.

Do Customers Want to Get SD-WAN from Their ISP or Phone Carrier?

But is that what customers want? A recent Gartner survey says it’s not. Only 30 percent of U.S. respondents said they preferred SD-WAN delivery through a carrier or network service provider. Most (37 percent) preferred to obtain services through the SD-WAN vendor, and 30 percent preferred a non-carrier provider such as an MSP or systems integrator.

The reasons for these preferences become obvious when you consider the top drivers for SD-WAN adoption. Organizations implement SD-WAN to gain increased availability, performance and agility while reducing WAN transport costs. Buying SD-WAN from a carrier is not going to give them the flexibility they’re looking for, and likely won’t provide the cost savings they’d get with an independent solution.

Carriers and some MSPs embed an SD-WAN service in a larger solution and make it look inexpensive. However, these SD-WAN offerings are more complex and expensive in the long run once you include installation, configuration of the rules and ongoing management of those rules.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]Carrier-bundled SD-WAN often costs more in the long run once you include installation, complexity and configuration of the rules and ongoing management of those rules.[/epq-quote]The perceived challenges associated with SD-WAN offer another perspective:

  • Almost half (48 percent) of Gartner survey respondents were concerned about the lack of visibility into the operations of the service provider.
  • 48 percent were concerned about service provider lock-in.
  • 43 percent about lack of control over the SD-WAN solution.

Even if the ISP provides a bundled discount, SD-WAN offerings are not going to solve those problems.

Addressing the Problems Created by SD-WAN Resold by ISPs/Telcos

When organizations purchase services through an SD-WAN vendor, the WAN transport layer becomes commoditized. Customers can mix and match carrier services such as MPLS with broadband Internet, 4G/LTE wireless and even satellite technologies. Within these categories the services are interchangeable, giving customers the flexibility to obtain the best connectivity at the best price.

InSpeed’s SD-WAN solution goes even further. InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) installs on your existing network—no waiting for your carrier or ISP to install a new circuit and hit you with special charges. You don’t have to worry about changes in the network and IP addresses causing issues with your service. Simply plug in the InSpeed appliance and IQS automatically prioritizes interactive traffic and optimizes bandwidth over any connection. You gain:

  • high-quality voice and video conferencing
  • guaranteed application performance
  • the cost advantage of avoiding a carrier-class circuit
  • real-time visibility into ISP performance and site or data center issues

Our unique Control Center provides graphic visibility of the ISP’s performance, making service calls simple because you can easily and accurately describe the issue to the ISP. You’ll see exactly how your circuits are performing and how IQS is responding to changing traffic conditions. The big win is visibility into the ISPs performance and the ability to triage an issue among site, ISP, or data center

InSpeed does not charge for bandwidth or require a second connection. If you want to install an additional connection for business continuity it’s as easy as a song—simply add a low-cost 4G/LTE modem to be used only for network failover.

Unlike other SD-WAN services, InSpeed is self-managing, and operation and maintenance are included. No IT time is required to make modifications to the service or keep it working properly. Plus, InSpeed provides a secure network, so there is no need to add a separate firewall or VPN.

The benefits of SD-WAN are well documented but a lot depends on the service provider you select. Early adopters have found that telco SD-WAN services fail to deliver the best value. InSpeed provides an independent solution that’s highly effective, cost-efficient and easy to use.

Contact one of our sales specialists to answer all your questions about SD-WAN.

Do You Have Real-Time Visibility into Your WAN?

a mechanic looks under the hood, just as a sys admin looks at your network
a mechanic looks under the hood, just as a sys admin looks at your SD-WAN network
Just as a mechanic needs to be able to look under the hood to fix your car, your sys admin needs visibility into your network

IT pros have been complaining about visibility for at least a decade. They all need it, but don’t have enough of it. Lack of visibility is a major pain point in IT operations.

The term defies easy definition. But in essence “visibility” refers to the ability to see what’s going on inside a network, an application, an IT environment. It requires a rich set of tools that can gather data on performance, availability and other factors and present them in real time in a meaningful way.

The concept of visibility goes hand-in-hand with the notion of control. When IT pros can see what’s going on inside their systems and networks, they are better equipped to troubleshoot problems and take steps to improve performance.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]#NetworkVisibility is the ability to see what’s going on inside a network. It requires a rich set of tools that can gather data on performance, availability and other factors and present them in real time in a meaningful way.[/epq-quote]Gaining visibility has never been easy, and it’s becoming more difficult as the IT infrastructure becomes more complex. Organizations are operating multiple wired and wireless networks, dozens of applications, scores of appliances, and multiple cloud platforms. They may have voice over IP (VoIP) systems, video conferencing systems and collaboration tools—some onsite, some cloud-based. Not all of those systems will have tools for monitoring and analyzing performance metrics, and those that do may require someone with an engineering degree to figure them out.

The WAN has always been a blind spot. Network administrators typically have limited visibility into their WAN circuits, other than whether the link is up or down. So when VoIP calls are garbled and video conferences freeze, there’s not a whole lot that administrators can do. They may suspect that the WAN is the culprit but are unable to prove it or to pinpoint the source of the problem. They’re also unable to hold service providers accountable for their contracted service-level agreements (SLAs).

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions are supposed to make WAN management easier. With SD-WAN you can aggregate multiple links and establish software-based policies for controlling how traffic is routed and prioritized. Typically, you can also manage all of your remote sites through a centralized console.

But very few SD-WAN solutions give you visibility into the WAN. A few provide data on network behavior and usage. Some support the Netflow or IPFIX protocols, which allows you to inject network flow data into a collection tool for future analysis and reporting. But administrators really need to see events that cause network traffic to be rerouted and how WAN performance and Quality of Service are impacted.

InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) gives you that visibility. IQS continuously monitors traffic quality and dynamically manages throughput to prevent buffer bloat and minimize latency, jitter and packet loss. Through InSpeed’s unique Control Center you can see, in real time, how your circuits are performing and how IQS is responding to network and traffic conditions. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist—IQS shows your high-priority traffic, normal-priority traffic, and latency and packet loss in a simple-to-read timeline.

InSpeed also monitors the ISP’s throughput to validate its advertised bandwidth, and measures InSpeed’s improvement on the ISP’s connection to validate Quality of Service. IQS provides a report with these and other metrics.

Visibility may be elusive in today’s complex IT environment, but you don’t have to guess what’s going on inside your WAN. InSpeed lets you look under the hood and see in real time how IQS is maximizing quality and performance. Contact our sales team to get started.

Kentucky Company Reduces Telecom Costs by 72 Percent and Gains Higher-Quality Service

increased quality, speed, efficiency and reduced costs image

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Reducing Telecom Costs without Sacrificing Quality of Service

It’s human nature to think that an expensive product is better than a lower-cost product. There’s a degree of logic to that—why would the market support a higher cost if there wasn’t some value behind it?

When it comes to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), however, the price of the service has little to do with the cost of delivery or the functionality that’s provided. Quite simply, it comes down to what the market will bear.

Historically, there have been limited options when it comes to wide-area network (WAN) connectivity. The telcos pretty much owned the road, and developed MPLS to more efficiently handle growing volumes of Internet traffic. Because MPLS is offered by just a handful of providers, the price is relatively high.

The broadband Internet market, by contrast, is highly competitive, which drives down prices. Broadband Internet typically costs $.75 to $2.00 per megabit per month. MPLS, in contrast, ranges from $75 to $200 per megabit per month depending on location. Granted, broadband Internet is a “best-effort” service, while MPLS creates a private WAN with guaranteed bandwidth. It takes better equipment and more engineers to deliver MPLS, but that doesn’t explain such a huge discrepancy.

Fact is, many IT professionals believe that broadband Internet is inadequate for enterprise WAN connectivity. They’re concerned that the cost of downtime and of troubleshooting problems across dozens or even hundreds of locations would offset any savings from a cheaper service.

However, MPLS is starting to show its age. Organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based applications and services find that MPLS creates bottlenecks. Furthermore, MPLS doesn’t provide the advanced traffic shaping needed to ensure high-quality IP communications.

Twenty Times the Bandwidth, 72 Percent Lowered Costs

A Kentucky-based technology company was using MPLS to connect its two corporate offices in Louisville and Lexington. The company was frustrated with the high cost of MPLS, and began looking for alternatives. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) seemed like a good solution, but it had to provide Quality of Service (QoS) for voice and video conferencing.

After reviewing SD-WAN products from a number of vendors, the company selected InSpeed Quality Service (IQS). IQS is the only SD-WAN solution that’s purpose built to ensure performance for interactive applications. It gives interactive traffic priority over ordinary Internet traffic, and manages bandwidth utilization from end to end to reduce congestion for all applications.

After implementing IQS with a broadband Internet connection, the company found that voice call quality immediately improved. The company’s 65 employees could communicate with each other and with customers without the jitter, echoes and other issues they experienced with MPLS.

But what about reducing telecom costs? The company had been paying $1,920 for two 5Mbps MPLS circuits, plus another $180 for an MPLS-to-Internet connection in its Louisville location. That’s $2,100 per month for relatively little bandwidth. Now, the company has a 100Mbps Internet connection plus IQS in each location, for a total cost of just $600 per month. With InSpeed, the company enjoys 20 times the bandwidth for 72 percent lower cost per month, with improved call quality.

InSpeed’s SD-WAN solution proves that more expensive isn’t necessarily better. Let us show you how IQS can save you a bundle while ensuring high-quality business communications and cloud access. Check out the case study referenced here, or reach out to our team to get started to find out how much money IQS can save for your company.


InSpeed Helps IT Solution Provider Deliver Top-Notch Customer Service

How one company streamlined their home office communications

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The IT skills gap is a big and growing problem that defies easy solutions. The evolution of the IT field is accelerating with new technologies emerging faster than ever before. 63 percent of companies today have remote workers and hiring managers predict that 38 percent of their full-time, permanent employees will work remotely in the next ten years. Organizations seeking to take advantage of those technologies are struggling to find workers who can support them. The result, according to a recent CompTIA report, is reduced productivity, lower sales and profitability, delays in bringing new products and services to market, and losing ground to competitors.

This has created both opportunities and challenges for IT solution providers. Organizations need help, and are more willing than ever to outsource IT support. However, solution providers face the same staffing challenges as other organizations, particularly when it comes to specialized IT skills.

Technology is helping to resolve some of the issues it has created. Near-ubiquitous Internet access means that IT support specialists can access systems remotely, from virtually anywhere. This enables solution providers to cast a wider net when it comes to hiring. They can focus on finding employees with the right skills, regardless of geography.

Professional-Quality Voice in the Home Office: IPC Case Study

[blockquote style=”background-color: #0077b3;” cite=”Mark Guyer
Senior Support Services Engineer
IPC Technologies” type=”left”]“After InSpeed was installed people told me that it sounded like I was in the next room instead of several states away.”[/blockquote]

IPC Technologies has leveraged this model to support its nationwide customer base. A Mitel Platinum-Certified Partner with expertise in phone systems, networks and more, IPC maintains a deep bench of experienced engineers and technicians. Most work from one of IPC’s Network Operations Centers, but some are located in remote offices or even work from home.

One particular support services engineer was living in the greater Kansas City area, far from any IPC branch. He set up an office in his apartment, using the phone and the Internet to support IPC’s customers. His Voice over IP (VoIP) phone tied directly into IPC’s headquarters in Richmond, Va. Customers had no way of knowing he was working remotely.

However, the consumer-grade Internet connection in the engineer’s apartment building was not up to the job. Every afternoon, as Internet traffic increased, the quality of his VoIP calls degraded significantly. Choppiness and robot voice made conversations difficult to understand—and created a poor customer experience for a company that specializes in phone systems.

IPC was familiar with InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) and its ability to optimize voice calls. The company decided to see if IQS could solve the engineer’s VoIP problems. IQS was designed to ensure high-quality business communications over any connection, every time. But could it optimize voice calls over a highly variable, poor-quality Internet service?

IPC shipped a preconfigured InSpeed appliance to the engineer, who set it up in a matter of minutes. All he had to do was plug in two cables and press the “on” button—the appliance automatically connected to the InSpeed cloud and began prioritizing voice, video conferencing and other interactive traffic. The engineer’s VoIP problems disappeared instantly, and other Internet applications performed better as well.

The InSpeed appliance and service are easy to use and manage, so the engineer can focus his efforts on supporting IPC’s customers.

Organizations facing shortages of skilled IT personnel need the ability to hire workers regardless of location. The InSpeed SD-WAN solution can ensure that these employees have high-quality voice calls so they can deliver top-notch support to their customers.

To find out if InSpeed is the right solution for your office space, contact one of our sales specialists.


How an Environmental Services Firm Fixed Their VoIP Problems (and Boosted Cloud Performance)

How one company fixed their sluggish Internet and dropped calls

How one company fixed their sluggish Internet and dropped calls

C&M Relied on the Cloud, but They Needed the Right Architecture

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The cloud has become a core component of the IT environment, with organizations devoting ever-larger portions of their budgets to cloud solutions. That’s because the cloud delivers key business benefits, including the ability to preserve capital, reduce operational overhead, implement new services faster and scale on demand.

However, traditional WAN architectures are ill-suited to cloud computing. Private circuits, such as MPLS links, are expensive, slow to provision, inflexible and complex, offsetting much of the value of the cloud. They offer guaranteed bandwidth but it comes at substantial cost, and much of it is wasted due to the inefficiencies of routing cloud traffic over MPLS.

Broadband Internet makes more sense for cloud access—it’s a small fraction of the cost of MPLS and can generally be provisioned pretty quickly. The problem is that broadband doesn’t give you guaranteed bandwidth or performance. As cloud traffic increases, other applications are going to suffer.

If you rely on cloud applications for mission-critical business processes, this can be a real problem.

For Example: Monthly Payroll Triggered Dropped Calls and Sluggish Internet

logo of company with dropped calls during payrollC&M Industries, an environmental services firm based in Chesapeake, Va., found that its cloud-based accounting apps caused the WAN to slow to a crawl. The problem was especially acute twice a month, when the company ran payroll for its 250 employees.

This didn’t just impact the performance of the cloud software. C&M’s Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system took the biggest hit when WAN traffic spiked. Calls would become unintelligible and drop unexpectedly.
C&M had two problems. One was a lack of bandwidth. The cable broadband link connecting its headquarters to the Internet was just 15 Mbps x 5 Mbps—the fastest available in that part of town. A nearby branch office had a 30 Mbps x 10 Mbps connection, which was better but still not terribly fast.

The other problem was a lack of traffic shaping and prioritization for VoIP calls. The Internet provides only “best effort” delivery, so voice and video conferencing traffic has to wait in line with all of the other data. C&M looked at a private VPN solution, but it didn’t provide traffic shaping capabilities. The carrier couldn’t guarantee that call quality would improve, so C&M was reluctant to make the investment.

How C&M Fixed Their Dropped Calls During Payroll and Streamlined Their Cloud Apps

That’s when the company discovered the InSpeed software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution. InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) gives interactive traffic (UDP) priority over other Internet traffic (TCP) so that voice and video conferencing data goes first. It’s designed specifically to resolve the kinds of problems that plague VoIP calls when Internet traffic increases.

After installing IQS, C&M found that call quality improved immediately—even on the 15th and last of the month when the accounting department processed payroll. The company also noticed that its cloud applications and other Internet functions started performing better as well. That’s because IQS manages bandwidth both downstream and upstream, reducing WAN congestion for all applications.

As organizations increase their use of cloud applications, the right WAN architecture becomes critical. MPLS wasn’t designed for the cloud, and broadband Internet comes with tradeoffs in terms of performance and reliability. InSpeed gives you cloudlike agility and cost-efficiency while guaranteeing high-quality business communications over any WAN connection.

If you’re having problems similar to C&M, InSpeed can help.