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NFV, SD-WAN and vCPE shift scope of managed WAN services

This week, a networking analyst examines the future of managed WAN services, while another one remembers his time at EMC in the wake of last week's Dell-EMC merger.

Andrew Lerner, an analyst with Gartner, said he sees a new chapter emerging for managed WAN services. Outside North America, few enterprises manage their WAN edge devices, relying instead on systems integrators, carriers and service providers to deliver managed WAN services. The opposite is true in North America, where in-house management is quite common. Lerner spoke with fellow Gartner analyst Bjarne Munch about WAN services, including the ongoing hype surrounding software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN; network functions virtualization, or NFV; and virtual customer premises equipment, or VCPE.

Munch said he sees dramatic changes coming for managed WAN services, ones he described as being as significant as the shift from frame relay to MPLS in the late 1990s. Notably, Munch said he envisions a new crop of managed WAN providers that include managed virtual network operators, systems integrators and over-the-top options as more companies consider SD-WAN, NFV and software-based systems.

Software-defined will become the name of the game in the race for greater flexibility and functionality. "While providers may be able to lower their expenses, it's not a given that this will automatically lead to a reduction in their service fees; although, we obviously recommend using this as leverage in contract negotiations," Munch said. He added a prediction: By 2020, 30% of international enterprise WAN service contracts will incorporate NFV services.

Read more of Lerner and Munch's thoughts about the future of managed WAN services.

Persuading management to automate

Blogger Ivan Pepelnjak shared his thoughts on persuading management about the benefits of automation. Before deploying the technology, Pepelnjak said automation should be considered a strategy, with buy-in from management. To succeed in its adoption, at least one member of an automation team should possess strong software aptitude.

To push for automation, Pepelnjak recommended starting small -- picking out a small, nagging problem worth solving, but not critical to the network. The improvement must be demonstrated to management and combined with requests for resources and support. Pepelnjak said if after making a strong case, management remains unreceptive, it may be time to search elsewhere for a different job.

Explore more of Pepelnjak's thoughts on automation.

Looking back at EMC

In the wake of the recent Dell-EMC merger, Steven Duplessie, owner of Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., took a moment to reflect on his time at EMC. Duplessie joined EMC in 1986 and left in 1989. "[EMC's] been a stunningly awesome success story that could have derailed many times along the way, but took every beating that came along (whether self-imposed or not)," Duplessie said.

Duplessie emphasized the importance of individuals to EMC's success, and he said he believes Dell might consider cutting operations in Massachusetts and shifting toward Round Rock, Texas. "But reality is that the trained talent with enterprise DNA simply does not exist in Round Rock as it does in [sic] MA. Plus, people cost the same in Austin as in Hopkinton, anyway, so I just don't see [a move] happening," Duplessie said. He added that with real estate prices in Hopkinton, Mass., going up and growing markets for Dell's servers, it's at least as likely Dell EMC will keep operations in Massachusetts -- and perhaps even grow there.

Dive deeper into Duplessie's retrospective on EMC.

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