So, if we are looking at different backbone technologies and a move to a multi-supplier world, why does that mean we also need to look at changing service boundaries?
The answer can be summed up in one word: agility.
The drive to cloud-based applications and the wealth of new service architectures is driven by a desire for agility in all senses of the word – agility to deploy services more quickly, agility to turn those services up or down to match demand, agility to deliver change.
When organisations demanding agility look at the networks market they see the traditional vendors struggling to deliver agile solutions that leverage latest technologies at commercially attractive prices. At the same time, they see local and regional suppliers delivering cheaper services in a more flexible way, and sometimes exciting, innovative organisations coming into the market delivering new technologies. The challenge is that neither of these types of suppliers typically have the maturity, scale or reach to package these services into a comprehensive, end-to-end solution.
Many organisations are responding by taking on this role themselves – skilling up to integrate these services using internal capabilities, thereby delivering the agility their organisations are demanding.
In the traditional WAN world, people used to talk about two service models – “managed service” and “wires-only”. TNC sees this new service model as more of an internally orchestrated managed service. What this means is that each element of the service is managed by the supplier, but the end-user organisation is responsible for orchestrating these multi-suppliers into a cohesive whole.
However, the ability for organisations to take on these challenges is highly variable. For organisations that are already very centralised, the idea of taking on the management of multiple vendors, particularly in multiple geographies may be daunting. However, for organisations that are already more decentralised and have IT skills in different places around the world, managing multiple vendors in multiple geographies may seem perfectly reasonable. TNC’s research certainly does show that there is huge resistance for organisations to change from centralised to decentralised (or vice versa), so it does seem that the shape of an organisation at the start of its journey to the WAN of the future will be a significant determinant of the type of WAN and the service model it will find attractive.
It is also very important to consider the skill sets of the internal team. Most network teams are very comfortable managing MPLS networks with Cisco CPE, but few network teams have strong SD-WAN skills, given how new that solution is to the market. Therefore, migrating to a solution based on very new technology will be a risk, given the need to upskill internal teams, and of course retain upskilled staff who will look very attractive to other organisations contemplating the same solutions!