The myths that satellite services are slow, expensive, and have a latency problem are a thing of the past.
Today we know these are no longer true and that new high-throughput satellites such as being operated by Intelsat changed all of this, plus the Starlink network being built by SpaceX will even further nullify these statements.
Yet, what are the specific cost metrics and how can network architects quantify these advantages to motivate leading and super reliable SD-WAN networks?
Before we start with the specific Satellite SD-WAN (S-SD-WAN) costing details, it will be wise to again review the network architect’s dilemma.
The current drive to change a corporate network from an MPLS to SD-WAN architecture is purely motivated by cost saving while maintaining network performance.
Most MPLS-based corporate networks were developed over time and through multiple improvement iterations it reached a point of very high reliability with high business confidence and resilience.
Now every network designer faces the same dilemma: How to save cost and maintain this level of high network performance using less reliable links with weaker SLA’s and variable billing structures.
And yes – this is exactly the dream SD-WAN is promoting to the telco environment and only time will tell where the balance points are and if the major cost savings being promoted really materialise.
Especially when considering the very specific telco environment we have in South Africa with limited fixed line providers, fluctuating mobile networks, network failures due to power failures and limited wireless alternatives.
A low-risk alternative
Given the major network implications applicable to change from MPLS to SD-WAN networks it is just logical that architects will consider all options that can reduce the technical risk while maintaining the network performance.
Well – sadly not always so logical – since most architects will discount the number 1 alternative – enterprise satellite access services.
Layer-2-over-satellite high-throughput-satellite services such as the Twoobii network operating on the Intelsat Flex platform has by now been proven on a number of SD-WAN technology platforms including Cisco, Citrix, Fortinet and others.
Yet the simple (and actually ignorant) response is normally that satellite is too expensive and not applicable.
A feasible satellite business case
Considering a 100-site customer network with 10MBps services, we prepared comparative costing and can show that satellite is a very feasible alternative.
|Network Metric||MPLS||SD-WAN with BB Fibre & LTE backup||SD-WAN with BB Fibre and Twoobii back-up|
|Equipment cost||Installed already||R800||R8,500|
|10Mbps MPLS Service||R3500||–||–|
|10Mbps Business Broadband Fibre||–||R2,499||R2,499|
|LTE Service , 500GB, 5% stdby, R20/GB||–||R500||–|
|Satellite back-up using 70% Multicast||–||–||R125|
Using these network metrics and calculating the accumulated costs over 24months shows the SD-WAN plus Satellite option provides a 12% saving versus MPLS while the SD-WAN and LTE option provides 7% saving.
In addition satellite offers distinct advantages w.r.t QoS levels, uptime and availability, cost, signal coverage and no variable billing.
What satellite service you need
As usual the “devil is in the detail”.
To unlock these cost benefits, while maintaining network reliability, the satellite network must be an enterprise level service such as Twoobii which offers layer2-over-satellite, define QoS profiles with committed SLA’s.
The standard industry “uncapped best effort” satellite services will not be able to meet the enterprise performance requirements and will ultimately lead to failed business commitments.
While the detail cost parameters we used can be questioned, the principle understanding that the new generation enterprise satellite solutions provide significant benefits for SD-WAN networks, remains.