Is SD WAN part of your acquisition strategy? Because it should be!

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SD WAN is a business enabler – it’s a statement we’ve continuously seen and heard in the last couple of years, but is it really and is now the time to adopt?

During the development of our SD WAN proposition, I’ve had to answer that question. I’ve had to show why now is the time to adopt it.  And so I have been looking at situations where SD WAN can provide benefit, other than the marketed cost savings, and one commonplace scenario is within acquisitions.

Over the last 20 years, every organisation I have worked for has either been acquired or has acquired other businesses. The reasons for acquisition and mergers are varied – account base, intellectual property, skills, recurring revenue – but one thing is certain, it has a massive impact on IT and telecoms team. Why? In a digital world IT is the backbone to any organisation and so the IT integration strategy – and importantly the timeline – can impact the success of an acquisition.

The acquiring organisation immediately assumes all accountability for the other organisations assets, including the WAN. Assuming both organisations have WAN’s, that’s two bills to pay and two networks to manage; IT overheads have doubled overnight. Also the acquired organisations employees will need to access new systems which won’t be possible without the connectivity to the IT infrastructure. That’s why the integration timeline is important.

The most common plan at this point is to raise a number of orders with the acquirer’s incumbent WAN provider to provide new circuits into the new branches/HQ/DC’s. This is a mammoth task and is the equivalent of rolling out a new WAN. It requires co-ordination, planning, resource, and costs money in terms of man-hours. Even an organisation with 10 sites, a DC and a HQ, could involve 6-9 months of effort in just getting the WAN implemented. That’s 6-9 months of no systems integration and equally as important, integration of new employees. That can impact the success of an acquisition enormously.

Now let’s consider an alternative timeline.

Imagine that SD-WAN is being used. The acquirer has all sites SD-WAN enabled and all applications are configured and managed through a central controller. Now we have a different timeline to play with.

As soon as the acquisition is completed, a new deployment of a “branch router” is configured on the central controller. The applications that the branch needs to consume are added to the configuration via the policy manager. In parallel, new business grade, public DSL/FTTC/G.FAST (if available) services are ordered instead of private fibre services. If existing copper can be used, the turn up of these services could be as little as 10-15 days.

Once the services are live the new branch router can be sent directly from the SD-WAN vendor distribution centre to site. Once on site the device will contact the controller and download its configuration. Connect to the LAN equipment on a segregated VLAN(s) and that site is ready.

The WAN integration timeline could be halved quite easily. Certainly, accelerated via use of SD-WAN technology. Fewer people need to be involved and the management of the new WAN rollout is now effectively just a number of additional branch sites connecting to the existing SD-WAN.

Of course there are some assumptions in the example, but generally speaking the technology can really help in this kind of situation. The integration timeline could be shorter and the “cost” of integration could be significantly less.

Which also means the next acquisition could be just around the corner…