Guest Column | July 8, 2021

Choosing The Right Strategic Provider For Managed SD-WAN Services

By Satish Madiraju, Fortinet, Inc.

Network SD-WAN

With the increase in cloud usage and a hybrid, highly distributed workforce, organizations are looking to deliver their customers the best user experience and efficient operations through SD-WAN as a solution. As a result, to offer best-in-class services, remain competitive, and meet rising customer demands, MSSPs must look for partners who enable them to provide robust managed SD-WAN services.

Accelerated Convergence Of Network And Security

In today’s business world, nearly every organization is seeking to modernize its operations. The term “modernize” has become synonymous with digital transformation, cloud migration, and “as-a-Service” adoption. However, the distributed nature of cloud-based operations means that organizations embracing these efforts must also change their approach to WAN architecture and security.

Outlined below are factors that MSSPs should carefully consider when choosing an SD-WAN solution for their customers.

Networking: The Need For Speed

As organizations look to enable their remote workforce members, they require networking solutions that provide operational efficiency. Ultimately, the distributed workforce means ensuring that clients have a network that can manage access from branch offices and home networks without causing a delay or reducing application performance. Whether hosted on-premises or in the cloud, SD-WAN takes an application-aware approach to distribute traffic and provide the best user experience.

Converging Speed And Security

However, networking alone can’t secure all edges. Therefore, security must be at the forefront of any networking decision. Cloud-based applications store, transmit, and process sensitive information, making them a primary threat actor target. To deliver competitive services, MSSPs must build security directly into their networking solutions. In other words, the MSSP business model must consider the convergence of customers’ networking and security needs rather than treating them as separate line items.

Securing The WAN, Cloud, And Thin Edges For A Competitive Edge

MSSPs who can extend flexibility and push toward security-driven networking from SD-WAN at the WAN edge to the cloud edge will be more competitive in the marketplace. With SD-WAN, MSSPs can provide their clients the flexibility required to choose where to enable security both on-premises and in the cloud. Additionally, building security directly into the networking strategy enables clients to have a consistent security posture across all edges.

Further, as clients begin adopting more Internet of Things (IoT) devices, they need more robust security at the thin edge. With Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) that combines network and security capabilities, MSSPs enable customers to apply secure access to all users, workloads, devices, and applications – regardless of location. SASE offerings also allow MSSPs to provide customers the ability to future-proof their networks and security across data centers, branch offices, and hybrid- and multi-cloud environments.

Building a complete offering means that customers can start with the technologies they have now and know that as they build out their technology stack, they can maintain a relationship with their MSSP. When combined with SD-WAN, SASE acts as a security-driven networking solution for MSSPs looking to build robust services that secure the WAN, cloud, and thin edges.

Enabling Value-Add Services Beyond Connectivity

To create a holistic services package, MSSPs must find solutions that secure their clients today and into the future. This means having partners that enable more than just security across all edges. Additionally, MSSPs need rapidly, easily deployable solutions that offer high margins and scale easily to large customer bases to maximize the return on investment. In other words, MSSPs need a partner whose business model enables them to provide services while also driving their own business agility.

Single Platform

Building a managed services portfolio based on individual tools that lack cohesion and integration reduces profit margins due to increased costs associated with monitoring and maintenance. By bringing all security monitoring into a tightly integrated security platform, however, MSSPs can deliver customer value at no additional cost to themselves. With the right platform, MSSPs can offer value-added services, such as service level agreement (SLA) monitoring.

Flexible Security Services

Moreover, having a single platform that enables multiple security services gives MSSPs the ability to grow along with their customers’ needs. They can start with basic SD-WAN networking, then offer additional services like threat protection and security operations. As customers’ needs change, MSSPs can help them adapt.

Extend Services

Flexibility helps MSSPs grow with their customers, but extensibility means that MSSPs enable customers to derive more value from their current security deployments. For example, MSSPs can extend their services to the LAN side by offering branch consolidation with SD-Branch. These services give MSSPs a way to enable clients to enhance networking and security by creating a single location for monitoring varied locations and controlling network architecture without having to be on-site. MSSPs can provide their clients with a single-pane-of-glass view while also increasing customer operational agility and reducing hardware footprint.

Deliver Business Agility and Flexibility

As MSSPs look to stay competitive in the market, they must also be responsive to customers of all sizes and complexities. Organizations adopt cloud services because they provide flexible, agile options that enable them to scale services up or down as needed – this is something that MSSPs should try to mirror as much as possible. This means offering them pay-as-you-grow options for products and services. MSSPs must ensure that customers get the services they need when they need them, rather than waiting until a contract is up for renewal. The ability to offer customization for a client’s unique situation and competitive pricing keeps the “services” in Managed Security Services Provider.

About The Author

SatishWith more than a decade of experience in the cybersecurity space, Satish Madiraju leads innovative enterprise security and WAN Edge solutions at Fortinet addressing advanced threats and digital transformation challenges for global enterprise customers. Before Fortinet, he held strategic product management roles launching successful products and solutions at Cisco and engineering roles at security companies including IronPort and Infoblox.