Sprint to differentiate SD-WAN offering with hybrid approach, diverse broadband offerings

Sprint says its SD-WAN offering is about enabling its customers to deal with growth fluctuations.

Sprint finally launched its SD-WAN service this week and the company says it will stand out from the pack by offering customers the ability to not only bring their own broadband to the table, but also offer a migratory path.

Following an initial trial with business customers late last year, Sprint can now leverage and extend the broadband and Ethernet partner capabilities it has developed to provide connectivity.

While it’s still early in the game, Sprint has seen thousands of customer sites in its sales funnel that the carrier can pursue.

Don Briscoe, manager of network solutions product and marketing for Sprint, told FierceTelecom that the SD-WAN offering is about enabling its customers to deal with growth fluctuations.

“We’re leveraging a lot of the values of SD-WAN to help customers solve network inefficiencies that are out there,” Briscoe said. “SD-WAN provides network efficiencies as needs continue to grow and customers are looking for ways to cost effectively deliver hybrid WAN networks in a way that is plug and play.”

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Access agnostic approach

Taking an access agnostic approach to SD-WAN, the service provider will allow customers to either purchase bandwidth circuits from Sprint or other carriers of their choice.

In order to accommodate multi-site businesses’ bandwidth needs, Sprint built E-NNI agreements with more than 50 ILECs and cable providers, creating an access footprint that blankets the United States.

Sprint also added 52 U.S. IP/MPLS nodes in 2016, and this year will add more than 70 nodes, expanding to more than 220 U.S. IP/MPLS nodes.

“We have a variety of access options,” Briscoe said. “For those customers that want to bring their own broadband, we’re not only allowing that we’re providing SLAs associated with the bring your own broadband approach, which we believe is something no one else is doing.”

At the same time, the carrier allows businesses to either manage the SD-WAN solution themselves or have Sprint do it for them.

“We have flexible management options for those customers who want Sprint to fully manage their WAN or one where we do the design and set up,” Briscoe said. “Each option is baked into the cost.”

Migration options

While SD-WAN may be the newest technology trend, businesses are at different points of network migration.

Some customers still are on MPLS connections, which may be under contract or they may want to get more comfortable with the new technology.

Sprint will enable business customers to either replace their current connections with SD-WAN or run hybrid networks. The service provider has built in elements to provide network path optimization that gears traffic on the most optimal network path.

“What we’re seeing is for most applications is SD-WAN offers a hybrid WAN approach that includes internet and MPLS,” Briscoe said. “Depending on your applications, it drives that prioritization so your corporate applications would use MPLS while internet traffic would use the internet.”

Briscoe added that “internet and MPLS will coexist and it helps when you have this more efficient network to address bandwidth needs more cost effectively.”