April 17, 2024

Multi-Vendor SDWAN Deployment vs Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployment

8 min read
Are you considering deploying SDWAN in your organization? Learn about the pros and cons of multi-vendor SDWAN deployment versus single-vendor SDWAN deployment in our latest article.
Two networks

Two networks

Software-defined Wide Area Network (SDWAN) deployments have become increasingly popular in recent times, as organizations seek to optimize their network performance and efficiency. One of the key decisions that IT teams face when implementing SDWAN solutions is whether to opt for a multi-vendor or single-vendor deployment strategy. This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of both approaches to help you make an informed decision about which one is right for your organization.

The Benefits of Multi-Vendor SDWAN Deployment

A multi-vendor SDWAN deployment involves using hardware and software from different vendors to build a network infrastructure. This approach offers several benefits, such as:

  • Flexibility: Multi-vendor SDWAN deployments give you the flexibility to choose the best hardware and software for your organization’s specific needs, without being tied to a single vendor.
  • Cost Savings: A multi-vendor approach can bring cost savings, as you can choose products and services based on their individual merits, thereby avoiding vendor lock-ins and premium prices.
  • Reduced Risk: By deploying multiple vendors, you can spread risk across different products and vendors, which can help mitigate exposure to common issues and vulnerabilities.

Another benefit of multi-vendor SDWAN deployment is improved performance. By using hardware and software from different vendors, you can take advantage of the strengths of each product to optimize your network performance. For example, you can use one vendor’s hardware for high-speed data transfer and another vendor’s software for advanced security features. This can result in a more efficient and effective network infrastructure that meets your organization’s specific needs.

The Advantages of Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployment

Single-vendor SDWAN deployments, on the other hand, involve using hardware and software from the same vendor to build a network infrastructure. This approach offers several benefits, such as:

  • Integration Ease: Single-vendor deployment simplifies integration of software, hardware components and features, ensuring compatibility across the network.
  • Reduced Management Overhead: With all SDWAN components from a single vendor,it simplifies ongoing management and maintenance, reducing maintenance overheads thereby reduces total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Improved Security: A single-vendor SDWAN deployment model ensures all elements of the network are designed to work seamlessly and create a more secure network infrastructure.

Another advantage of single-vendor SDWAN deployment is the ease of troubleshooting. Since all components are from the same vendor, it is easier to identify and resolve issues that may arise within the network. This reduces downtime and ensures that the network is always up and running.

Furthermore, single-vendor SDWAN deployment allows for better control and customization of the network. With all components from the same vendor, it is easier to configure and customize the network to meet specific business needs. This ensures that the network is optimized for performance and can handle the demands of the business.

Understanding the Key Differences Between Multi-Vendor and Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployment

The main differences between a single-vendor and multi-vendor SDWAN deployment come down to choice, or lack thereof. With a single-vendor solution, the choice of hardware and software is predetermined, whereas a multi-vendor solution gives you the flexibility to choose from a range of different components to create your network infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, a multi-vendor approach can offer cost savings, flexibility and risk distribution.

Having said this, a single-vendor solution can offer better performance as the components are designed to work seamlessly with one another, which in turn makes it easier to configure and manage.

It is important to note that the decision between a single-vendor and multi-vendor SDWAN deployment ultimately depends on the specific needs and goals of your organization. If you prioritize cost savings and flexibility, a multi-vendor approach may be the best option. However, if performance and ease of management are your top priorities, a single-vendor solution may be the better choice. It is recommended to thoroughly evaluate both options and consult with experts before making a decision.

How to Choose Between Multi-Vendor and Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployment

Choosing between the two approaches depends on several factors that are unique to each organization. These are:

  • Business Requirements: Analyzing the business requirements such as bandwidth needs, application performance requirements and security needs of the organization before selecting the most suitable SDWAN deployment model.
  • Internal Capability: A single-vendor solution may be more suitable for smaller organizations that may have limited IT resources for network management, and complex multi-vendor networks may not be feasible.
  • Budget and Cost: Budgetary constraints may restrict organizations from selecting multi-vendor solutions. In comparison, single-vendor solutions may offer better value for money.
  • Vendor Partnerships: Organizations committed to specific vendors may opt for single-vendor deployments as they may have established relationships, programs and discounts.

Another important factor to consider when choosing between multi-vendor and single-vendor SDWAN deployment is the level of customization required. Multi-vendor solutions may offer more flexibility in terms of customization, as they allow organizations to choose the best-of-breed solutions for their specific needs. On the other hand, single-vendor solutions may offer a more standardized approach, which may be more suitable for organizations that do not require a high level of customization.

Factors to Consider When Deciding on a Multi-Vendor or Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployment Strategy

When deciding between the two approaches, there are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • Compatibility: Ensuring the components of your chosen strategy are compatible with your existing infrastructure.
  • Vendor Support: Ensuring that the vendor provides adequate levels of support such as security updates and product upgrades.
  • Interoperability: Ensuring the components of your strategy work together seamlessly.
  • Scalability: Ensuring the components can scale as your network grows.

Another important factor to consider is cost. A single-vendor SDWAN deployment strategy may be more cost-effective as it eliminates the need for multiple vendor contracts and reduces the complexity of managing multiple vendors. However, a multi-vendor strategy may provide more flexibility in terms of choosing the best components for each specific use case, which can lead to better performance and cost savings in the long run.

Cost Savings and Efficiency Gains in Multi-Vendor SDWAN Deployments

One of the key drivers of multi-vendor SDWAN deployments is cost savings. By selecting individual components that offer the best performance and feature-set, organizations can reduce the costs associated with hardware and software licensing. Additionally, multi-vendor deployments increase competition and negotiate vendor rates, resulting in better cost-savings and efficiency gains.

Another advantage of multi-vendor SDWAN deployments is the ability to customize the network to meet specific business needs. Different vendors may offer unique features and capabilities that can be combined to create a tailored solution. This can result in increased efficiency and productivity, as well as improved user experience.

Furthermore, multi-vendor SDWAN deployments can provide greater flexibility and scalability. As business needs change and new technologies emerge, organizations can easily add or replace components without being locked into a single vendor’s solution. This can help future-proof the network and ensure that it remains competitive and up-to-date.

How Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployments Offer Improved Security and Reliability

A common concern with multi-vendor SDWAN deployments is security and reliability issues. When using different components that are not designed to work seamlessly together, there is always a risk of interoperability issues and security threats may arise.

Single-vendor SDWAN deployments overcome this challenge by integrating all components and creating a more secure and reliable network. By selecting defined vendor solutions with an established reputation, organizations can minimize the risks of security vulnerabilities and interoperability issues.

In addition, single-vendor SDWAN deployments also offer easier management and troubleshooting. With all components coming from the same vendor, IT teams can easily identify and resolve any issues that may arise. This can lead to faster resolution times and less downtime for the network.

Best Practices for Implementing Multi-Vendor or Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployments

To ensure successful SDWAN deployments, organizations must adhere to best practices, such as:

  • Defining Business Priorities: Organizations need to prioritize the business requirements and select SDWAN solutions that meet those requirements.
  • Testing and Proof of Concept: Organizations need to test SDWAN solutions and components thoroughly before deployment, identify any issues and create a proof of concept before deployment.
  • Centralized Management: Organizations must centralize the management of the network to streamline maintenance and reduce overheads.
  • Future Proofing: SDWAN deployments must be future-proofed. By future-proofing, organizations can avoid future compatibility issues by selecting solutions that support industry-standard protocols and processes.

Another important best practice for implementing SDWAN deployments is to ensure that the network is secure. Organizations must implement security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption to protect the network from cyber threats.

Additionally, organizations must ensure that their SDWAN solutions are scalable. As the organization grows, the network must be able to accommodate the increased traffic and bandwidth requirements. Therefore, organizations must select SDWAN solutions that can scale up or down as needed.

Case Studies: Examples of Successful Multi-Vendor and Single-Vendor SDWAN Deployments

There are numerous success stories for both multi-vendor and single-vendor SDWAN deployment models. A few examples include:

  • AT&T’s SDWAN services which incorporate products and services from Fortinet, VeloCloud, and Cisco Meraki. The deployment has helped to improve the reliability and scalability of their network infrastructure.
  • Walmart’s SDWAN deployment which makes use of products from VMware. The solution offers ease-of-use, increased flexibility and improved security.
  • Alaska Airlines SDWAN deployment provides centralized SD-WAN provisioning and management, with Silver Peak, Cisco and Viptela products. The deployment delivers improved application performance.

Another successful multi-vendor SDWAN deployment is the one implemented by Verizon. The company uses products from Cisco, Versa Networks, and Nokia to provide a secure and reliable network infrastructure to its customers. The deployment has helped Verizon to reduce costs and improve network performance.

On the other hand, a successful single-vendor SDWAN deployment is the one implemented by Citrix. The company’s SDWAN solution offers a unified platform that integrates security, routing, and WAN optimization. The deployment has helped Citrix to simplify network management and improve application performance for its customers.

Conclusion

Both multi-vendor and single-vendor SDWAN deployment models have their advantages and disadvantages. By taking into consideration business requirements, budgetary constraints and other factors, IT professionals can make an informed decision about which approach to take. As demonstrated, successful deployments are achieved by following best practices, thorough testing and proof of concept, and future-proofing the chosen deployment model.

It is important to note that the choice between multi-vendor and single-vendor SDWAN deployment models is not a one-time decision. As businesses grow and evolve, their network requirements may change, and a different deployment model may become more suitable. Therefore, IT professionals should regularly review and reassess their SDWAN deployment strategy to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the organization.

Another factor to consider when choosing between multi-vendor and single-vendor SDWAN deployment models is the level of vendor lock-in. Single-vendor solutions may offer a more seamless and integrated experience, but they can also limit flexibility and make it difficult to switch to a different vendor in the future. Multi-vendor solutions, on the other hand, may require more effort to integrate and manage, but they offer greater flexibility and the ability to choose the best-of-breed solutions for each component of the network.

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