In today's dynamic business landscape, where connectivity is the lifeblood of operations, organisations are turning to innovative solutions to enhance their network capabilities. Software-defined Wide Area Networking is a transformative technology that has gained widespread adoption.

SD-WAN offers a flexible and efficient approach to networking, optimising connectivity across geographically dispersed locations. Businesses are drawn to its ability to enhance performance, reduce costs, and provide the agility needed in the digital era.

 As organisations delve into the realm of SD-WAN, they encounter two distinct approaches: "SD-WAN as a Service" and "Managed SD-WAN." These models offer unique perspectives on how businesses can leverage the benefits of SD-WAN while managing their networks effectively.

In this article, we will explore the intricacies of both SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN, shedding light on their roles, advantages, and considerations. Business owners and decision-makers, join us as we navigate through the nuances of these two models to help you make informed choices that align with your organisation's goals and aspirations.

Brief Explanation of SD-WAN and Its Growing Adoption

The rapid expansion of digital transformation across several industries has led to a notable rise in the use of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking. SD-WAN is playing a key role in enabling innovation, driven by the use of third-platform technologies like cloud, big data, and analytics.

With its safe, easy-to-use, and reasonably priced connectivity options, this technology is particularly helpful for companies with several locations. Various industries like retail, finance, and education use SD-WAN to improve their operations' dependability, performance, and security in the constantly changing digital world.

That's why organisations are adopting SD-WAN services proactively; between 2020 and 2023, the proportion of businesses using managed SD-WAN climbed from 62% to over 66%, according to Enterprise Management Associates report.

Significance of Choosing Between SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN

Understanding SD-WAN as a Service

SD-WAN as a Service transcends the conventional capabilities of SD-WAN by integrating the WAN edge, a global foundation, and a comprehensive network security stack into a unified, cloud-native platform known as SASE (Secure Access Service Edge).

This innovative approach optimally connects and secures all enterprise resources, including physical locations, cloud data centers, and the mobile workforce.

Additionally, SD-WAN as a Service provides your organisation with the services and functionalities of an SD-WAN networking solution hosted by a service provider. The model operates under a Service Level Agreement, ensuring the basic functionality of your SD-WAN networking solution. While the service provider may monitor system uptime, your organisation retains the autonomy to manage and maintain the infrastructure.

However, The catch is that managing and configuring the SD-WAN system requires an internal IT team. This calls for proficiency in configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, initial architecture, and continuous management.

Even though they provide a basic SD-WAN provisioning solution, companies still need to make sure that their internal IT staff is knowledgeable about

Despite the SD-WAN solution's affordability and supervision, your IT staff stands at a crucial step. Making informed decisions regarding implementing SD-WAN as a Service for your company requires a thorough understanding of these subtleties.

This article will delve deeper into these intricacies, providing a comprehensive guide to equip you with the necessary insights. However, before diving in, let's establish a foundational understanding of managed SD-WAN.

Exploring Managed SD-WAN

Beyond SD-WAN as a Service, managed SD-WAN solutions offer complete management, configuration, maintenance, troubleshooting, and training. In contrast to SD-WAN as a Service, which is more hands-on, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) takes the lead and helps your company create the most efficient SD-WAN design.

With a managed SD-WAN solution, You'll have a dedicated MSP contact for communication, addressing any issues or adjustments needed. The MSP also provides insights on efficiency improvements, upgrades, and future-proofing considerations.

The advantages of engaging with an MSP are significant. They ensure a fast, responsive, and reliable network and enhance security. With their ample resources, MSPs can respond to potential issues faster and mitigate them more efficiently than an internal IT department.

Here is the Managed Service Provider's Role

  • Deployment and Configuration: MSPs ensure seamless integration of SD-WAN into existing networks, handling deployment and configuration.
  • Monitoring and Management: MSPs actively monitor network performance, making real-time adjustments to optimise SD-WAN efficiency and reliability.
  • Security: MSPs implement and manage security protocols for SD-WAN, safeguarding against cyber threats and ensuring data integrity.
  • Updates and Upgrades: MSPs handle software updates and upgrades, ensuring the SD-WAN stays current with the latest features and security patches.
  • Troubleshooting: MSPs provide rapid troubleshooting and issue resolution to maintain uninterrupted SD-WAN functionality

 Now, let's check the thorough comparison between SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN.

Comparing SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN

1. Cost Considerations:

  • SD-WAN as a Service: Typically follows a subscription-based model, reducing upfront costs for organisations. This allows organisations to plan monthly expenses, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to manage their budget effectively.
  • Managed SD-WAN: Involves higher initial investments, covering hardware and software licenses. While the costs might be higher, it offers long-term benefits by eliminating the need for in-house IT support, routine maintenance, and hardware expenditures.

Recommendation: If your organisation prioritises predictable monthly costs and lower initial investments, SD-WAN as a Service may be preferred. However, if you seek a solution with long-term cost efficiency and reduced overall network management costs, Managed SD-WAN could be more advantageous.

2. Deployment Flexibility:

  • SD-WAN as a Service: Known for its agility, quick deployment and scalability. This flexibility caters to dynamic business needs, allowing organisations to adapt rapidly to changing requirements.
  • Managed SD-WAN: Due to its more comprehensive and hands-on approach to network management, this may involve longer deployment times and be less flexible for rapid changes.

Recommendation: If your organisation values quick deployment and scalability for dynamic business needs, SD-WAN as a Service is suitable.

3. Integration with Cloud Services:

  • SD-WAN as a Service: Inherently integrates well with cloud services due to its cloud-native nature. This seamless integration ensures efficient connectivity to cloud resources.
  • Managed SD-WAN: This may require additional configurations for seamless cloud integration, potentially adding complexity to the deployment process.

Recommendation: SD-WAN as a Service offers a simpler, cloud-native option if your company needs a seamless connection with cloud services. Yet Managed SD-WAN could still be a good choice if your requirements for cloud integration can support extra options.

Considerations for Choosing Between the Two Models

Choosing between SD-WAN as a Service and Managed SD-WAN is akin to deciding between a "dedicated server" and a "managed dedicated server." Both models offer the fundamental components of an SD-WAN service, but the key distinction lies in the level of control your organisation wants.

SD-WAN as a Service:

Pros: Provides flexibility for organisations that want to configure, manage, and troubleshoot the solution independently.

Cons: Requires internal management, potentially leading to higher costs, as organisations need to handle the maintenance and support aspects themselves.

Managed SD-WAN:

Pros: Offers a hands-off approach, where the service provider takes care of everything from configuration to troubleshooting, freeing up internal resources.

Cons: It may come at a higher initial cost, but this is often outweighed by the long-term savings from avoiding internal management expenses.

Ultimately, the decision hinges on your organisation's preference for control. If you prefer hands-on involvement and are willing to manage the SD-WAN network internally, SD-WAN as a Service may be the right fit. However, be mindful that the costs of internal management can exceed outsourcing.

On the other hand, if you'd rather have everything handled externally, from configuration to troubleshooting, and value a more hands-off approach, Managed SD-WAN is the optimal choice. Consider your organisation's priorities, resources, and long-term goals to make a decision that aligns with your vision for SD-WAN network management.


When deciding between Managed SD-WAN and SD-WAN as a Service, weigh the trade-offs. Although it requires internal administrative expenditures, SD-WAN as a Service offers flexibility. Conversely, managed SD-WAN is hands-off and offers long-term advantages at no expense upfront.

For control, consider it similar to a "managed dedicated server"; for complete solutions, think of it as a "dedicated server." It all depends on your priorities. Choose SD-WAN as a Service if you're more comfortable working hands-on. Select Managed SD-WAN if you want a hands-off approach.

It is critical to comprehend the demands and objectives of your organisation. Make sure your choice aligns with your vision for a reliable, scalable, and effective network architecture, regardless of whether you choose Managed SD-WAN or SD-WAN as a Service. Your strategic decision will determine how connected your company will be in the future.

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