As organizations seek to deliver fast, scalable, and flexible connectivity, software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) solutions have emerged as an attractive strategy. The demand for SD-WAN is growing rapidly, and they can be deployed in multiple ways: do-it-yourself (DIY) or managed solutions.

With DIY SD-WAN, an organization’s own IT team sets up and manages all the components in-house. A managed SD-WAN provides organizations with an out-of-the-box solution to manage multiple network connections, critical applications, and security.

Whether you use DIY or managed SD-WAN is not an easy decision to make. You need to consider several factors and it is not as simple as choosing between other on-premises versus cloud-based solutions.

In this guide, you will learn more about these two methods so that you can determine what fits right for your company.

Why choose SD-WAN?

Before we go into the implementation types, lets take a brief look at the technology itself.

SD-WAN is flexible

A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a modern enterprise network solution that abstracts many network layer functions into software. It can be overlaid on any physical or virtual circuits, enabling the effective routing of traffic over multiple network types, including MPLS, broadband internet, wireless 5G and so on. By routing traffic intelligently, SD-WAN helps allocate network resources effectively and dynamically, ensuring that every path is optimized for unhampered data delivery.

SD-WAN is cost-effective

As the world moves towards a cloud-powered and mobile-centric era, having fixed infrastructure is less than ideal. SD-WAN bridges the gap by allowing users to make a single network out of several underlying connections. It helps companies shift from exclusive and expensive MPLS connections to hybrid networks. Low priority information can be sent over cheaper public networks, significantly reducing costs without compromising on quality. With SD-WAN, it is possible to switch and match circuits based on bandwidth availability, preventing network disruption despite connection failure.

SD-WAN is cloud-based

SD-WAN is cloud-based

You can use a SD-WAN central GUI administration panel to monitor and control traffic from the cloud. This innovative technology is perfect if your business handles heavy traffic at multiple locations. You can scale up or down depending on the network requirements. It’s a flexible option to keep up with peak-and-valley demands that are now the norm for IT systems. SD-WAN provides agility and flexibility that legacy infrastructures lack.

What is DIY SD-WAN?

In the DIY model, enterprises choose to purchase SD-WAN routing equipment and install and configure it themselves at each branch and remote site. The in-house IT team is also responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the SD-WAN equipment, connections, and software. This model is favored by larger enterprises with significant internal expertise in network deployment, configuration, and monitoring.

Advantages of DIY SD-WAN

  • The DIY model gives organizations full control of their networks
  • Companies can leverage existing talent who understand the internal connectivity and security needs.
  • DIY model is better suited to meet complex requirements like those of regulated financial and health services
  • Organizations can implement additional security to protect internal sensitive information.
  • Network Administrators can respond quickly and efficiently to any future network issues.

Disadvantages of DIY SD-WAN

  • Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are typically hard to enforce since they have to be agreed upon by every ISP globally.
  • Bills and contract management can be challenging, given that the customer needs to track them per service provider. This process can be time-constraining and cumbersome in the long-term.
  • IT time is used for network maintenance, instead of strategic initiatives that drive business growth. This also adds to ongoing maintenance costs.
  • Costs vary, based upon technology and systems needed, available staff, hours worked, and variables in filling knowledge gaps.
  • To get a network problem resolved, IT must locate, coordinate, troubleshoot, and try to determine which carrier is at fault.
  • For every new application being rolled out, the administrator has to reconfigure the system to accommodate the changes.

Managed SD-WAN Service

Managed SD-WAN Service

In managed SD-WAN, companies hire a third party provider to handle the installation and ongoing support of their SD-WAN deployment. Models vary – you can choose from fully-managed to hybrid co-managed options. Managed SD-WAN takes the labor-intensive elements and uncertainties out of SD-WAN and puts it into the capable hands of dedicated third-party professionals. They have the training and experience to design and maintain an optimally performing SD-WAN network for you.

Advantages of Managed SD-WAN Service

  • Purchasing SD-WAN managed services helps the enterprise network be up and running in just a few days.
  • No lengthy training and skills development would be required for the IT team; users only need to learn to navigate the centralized network portal.
  • Managed services offer automated connectivity to the significant cloud or SaaS applications, delivering seamless optimization services to secure transport of mission-critical resources.
  • Managed Service Providers (MSPs) also offer value-added SD-WAN solutions like application performance enhancement and security, which are covered by SLAs that guarantee quality.
  • The support staff is available 24/7, proactively monitoring the network and troubleshooting issues as they happen.
  • MSPs have end-to-end network visibility, and can providing intelligent routing in cases of peak demand or failure before they become disruptive.
  • Managed SD-WAN service can deliver consistent performance regardless of time and location, or whether the application is hosted in the cloud or on-premises.
  • Billing and contract management are easy even when adding new applications, geographies, or other services as necessary.

Disadvantages of Managed SD-WAN Service

  • Managed SD-WAN is generally more expensive than DIY models, especially when availing of other value-added services.
  • MSP capabilities vary, and it might be a challenge to choose a vendor that meets all the organization’s network requirements.

Questions to ask when choosing between DIY and Managed SD-WAN

  1. Can my team design and handle the deployment of managed IP services with WAN?
  2. Can I supply a WAN help desk staff required for 24/7/365 coverage?
  3. Do I want to manage legacy parts of my network that might still need attention and maintenance?
  4. Are my sites global? Are they running critical applications across multiple regions and carriers?
  5. Is managing the network adding value to my business, or can I add value in other ways?
  6. Do I use the public cloud? Which deployment model better supports public cloud infrastructure and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)?
  7. Am I aware of the extra security protocols my organization needs to reduce risk?
  8. What is my organization’s timeline to make the decision to roll out SD-WAN? Who internally must sign off on this?

Factors to consider when choosing the an SD-WAN MSP

Factors to consider when choosing the an SD-WAN MSP

If you choose to go ahead with managed SD-WAN, you will have to pick a provider. There are many in the market and you need to find the right fit for your company. Some factors to consider include:

Deep domain expertise

Every MSP will promise you top SD-WAN expertise, but you need someone who can tailor a solution for your particular domain

Quality assurance guarantee

SD-WAN is highly software-reliant, which makes quality assurance(QA) an aspect that they need to deliver without hiccups for you. To get a good grasp of the provider’s QA process, inquire about their software testing, including certifying new code and handling bugs as they emerge. Ask them how they can detect such issues and resolve them before proceeding to production, and observe whether they have a clear path towards the promised QA.


A good MSP will provide capacity-on-demand, scaling up or down to match your network needs. As a virtual technology, SD-WAN should be agile to complement cloud-based services and resources. They should also offer flexible deployment options that consider your timetable and requirements.

Multiple connectivity and global reach

The provider should have several options available, such as MPLS, Wireless, or broadband circuits. If they offer the global reach, it could also be indicative of their competitiveness and capacity to partner with other carriers across the globe.

DIY Vs Managed SD-WAN – which is best?

Going the DIY route for SD-WAN deployment might be practical if you have the internal expertise and organizational requirement.  Managed SD-WAN is the better option if you prefer having experts at the helm of your digital transformation. Remember you don’t have to pick either or. You can always go with a hybrid model that gives best of both worlds.

Contact CarrierBid technologies to explore your options and receive an unbiased recommendation that works!

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