September 12, 2022

4 Min Read
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Businesses need to understand the full scope of any major investment opportunity, and a return on investment (ROI) analysis can be a very useful tool for accomplishing that. Critical decisions like digital transformation with a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) are no exception. In a crowded SD-WAN market, infrastructure leaders validate multiple solutions to identify the best fit for their requirements. While core capabilities hugely influence them, in most cases, ROI takes precedence in decision-making.

So, how does one determine the real ROI for an SD-WAN solution to justify investments while ensuring they are purchasing the right SD-WAN solution that provides the best business outcomes?

SD-WAN has Transformed Networks Globally

A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a networking service that connects and extends enterprise networks over large geographical distances. It enables organizations to move to a decentralized network architecture by leveraging multiple types of WAN links to connect branches to applications. Legacy SD-WAN products focus on enabling internet broadband-based connectivity to data centers.

With the acceleration in cloud adoption, branch consolidation and migration to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) there is a need for a next-generation SD-WAN. In addition to ensuring their SD-WAN solution can deliver exceptional user experience for all apps, simplify operations with seamless integrations, and provide improved security outcomes, organizations need to know how they are future-proofing their investments. Our joint efforts with Forrester Consulting now allow businesses to determine their absolute ROI with an SD-WAN.

The True ROI of SD-WAN

Palo Alto Networks Prisma SD-WAN is the industry’s only next-generation SD-WAN that is autonomous, integrated and secure. With the Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study by Forrester Consulting, businesses can understand the qualitative and quantitative benefits of Prisma SD-WAN.

Forrester interviewed Palo Alto Networks stakeholders and customers to gather data relative to SD-WAN. Forrester interviewed five decision-makers at organizations using Palo Alto Networks Prisma SD-WAN and constructed a financial model representative of the interviews using the TEI methodology and the following source of benefits to these businesses:

  • WAN Hardware And Connectivity Cost Reduction: SD-WAN provides the flexibility to implement multiple WAN transports while effectively replacing expensive MPLS with affordable broadband and 5G connections.
    Businesses with distributed branches and remote locations can now enable suitable connections while enabling high redundancy and failover to deliver consistent connectivity. SD-WAN solutions are increasingly consolidating network operations at the WAN edge and LAN to reduce the branch infrastructure sprawl, reducing costs and operational complexity.

  • Remote Site Management Efficiency: SD-WAN provides simplified management with a centralized console, end-to-end visibility into application and network performance and AIOps-enabled analysis. Leveraging AI/ML technologies for operations ensures the IT staff identifies issues rapidly and resolves issues quickly, leading to improved productivity.

  • Implementation And Deployment Costs: Businesses experience frequent outages and performance degradations due to limited application SLAs and intelligent business policies. SD-WAN eliminates any significant delays or roadblocks with the ability to automatically update policies across the network. At the same time, zero-touch deployment enables adding new branch offices seamlessly at scale, reducing time and any change management process streamlined and simplified.

  • Integrated Branch Services: IT teams are constantly adding new branch services and tools to enable newer innovations like cloud connectivity, security and operations. This, in turn, requires them to plan downtime and upgrade cycles across the branches, data center and cloud to manage these services. SD-WAN has revolutionized this process by automating such integrations without any service interruptions. Adding a new service is a one-touch deployment instead of a larger IT team spending longer integration cycles.

  • Easier Migration to SASE: Organizations are looking to modernize and consolidate their networking and security infrastructures into a single service to simplify management and operations to provide the least privileged access to their hybrid workforces. SD-WAN has been instrumental in enabling customers to plan and migrate to their SASE initiatives with a single-vendor solution that delivers exceptional user experience and secure access anywhere.

Know Your SD-WAN Savings

SD-WAN can significantly simplify operations and improve security outcomes while delivering an exceptional user experience. Large Enterprises have globally distributed branch locations and are constantly expanding with acquisitions and mergers that make their infrastructure diverse and negatively impact ROI.

Prisma SD-WANs cloud-delivered model enables branch transformation at scale with automation and can save up to 267% ROI over 3 years and realize 97% WAN hardware and connectivity cost reduction (assuming 50,000 - 100,000 employees, 50% remote workers, and 2,500 branch offices). Realizing they have the most to gain with a next-gen SD-WAN solution can expedite their digital transformation efforts while future-proofing their investments. Case in point is, who selected Prisma SD-WAN, the industry’s first next-generation SD-WAN solution.

To know what SD-WAN can offer, Forrester constructed an interactive SD-WAN ROI calculator based on the model in the associated study and in accordance with Forrester and TEI standards. By answering a few simple questions, any organization can get an idea of the financial benefits they can expect from adopting an SD-WAN architecture.


Sutapa Bansal is a director of product management at Palo Alto Networks. She is customer obsessed and experienced in leading AI/ML and cloud products.

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