How to start building an SD-WAN RFP – TechTarget

Enterprise network teams need to build a software-defined WAN request for proposal to force vendor and service provider transparency across the multitude of features offered within the SD-WAN marketplace. In this article, we discuss the elements your business should include when creating SD-WAN RFP content.
The most common procurement consideration is whether to purchase SD-WAN from a vendor or a service provider — essentially, DIY SD-WAN vs. managed SD-WAN. The distinction is one of whether your business requires a single point of contact across all aspects, including customer premises equipment and network connectivity.
Only a few years ago, IT teams would typically default to the telecom or virtual network operator as their WAN provider with edge devices from a networking vendor, like Cisco or Juniper. In 2020 and beyond, the landscape will change to a vendor-led model where the actual connectivity isn’t the main consideration. If your business is considering a service provider, the managed SD-WAN RFP should look to understand the specific platforms that power the top one or two offerings.
SD-WAN offers a broad set of features, each of which could have a positive effect on your application access and performance, as well as security and optimization. The creation of a feature matrix is often the best place to start when building an SD-WAN RFP.
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The following list provides a good starting point teams can use to gauge SD-WAN features for the RFP:
In addition to the points listed above, the SD-WAN RFP can request high-level information to demonstrate performance before moving to a more granular request for information.
An important part of the RFP process is composing the right architecture questions to present to the vendors. Below is a breakdown of questions network teams should ask when building an SD-WAN RFP.
If your SD-WAN RFP is sent to network service providers, the focus of their vendor relationships will need to be outlined comprehensibly. In some cases, providers will work with multiple vendors; in other instances, vendors will have specific capabilities. It’s vital to understand the provider’s experience, especially regarding any managed services, as these often include an element of professional services.
A major benefit associated with SD-WAN is significant cost savings. When moving from MPLS networks, IT teams expect to achieve a certain amount of cost reduction. The key element to consider is how these cost savings are achieved, as many options use low-cost ISP services to reduce pricing.

The question of costs as they relate to SD-WAN is often less obvious. For example, IT teams can achieve a reduction in total cost of ownership with single box provisioning for security, WAN optimization and WAN connectivity. Within an SD-WAN RFP, IT teams must analyze ISP connectivity, associated service levels and traffic performance.
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