Choosing an SD-WAN Underlay - Full Span Solutions

The SD-WAN Underlay Provider Challenge

With the rapid adoption of SD-WAN, the move away from MPLS towards commodity internet connectivity has been prolific.  Choosing an SD-WAN underlay provider is more complicated than simply getting circuits from the cheapest provider, however.  You must factor in route diversity, circuit and service quality as well as billing and support.  At Full Span Solutions we work with our customers to design SD-WAN underlays on a regular basis!

SD-WAN Underlay Diversity

Ordering a connection from two separate providers is often thought to be a best practice to ensure survivability in the event of an outage.  The idea certainly has a lot of merit and often is in fact a valuable way to stay in front of many of the “what if” problems.  However, there can be caveats when doing this.  The chief concern is that having separate providers doesn’t always mean separate fiber networks.  In other words, if service provider A and B both offer a connection, they could in fact be implementing this connection in part or in full over the same fiber optic network.  Nearly all providers lease resources from each other in one form or another.  Fortunately, at Full Span Solutions we work with all major carriers as well as countless regional providers to identify these conflicts.   Additionally, we have an extensive set of fiber route maps that help delineate many of the route overlaps between providers.  It’s often not easy to narrow down but we are always happy to vet these concerns for our customers!

Internet Isn’t Created Equal

Internet connectivity is not created equally.  Of course, there are significant differences between a Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) connection and Business Broadband connections.  These differences include upstream and downstream bandwidth as well as Service Level Agreements (SLA) that govern things like packet delivery, latency, uptime, and more.  Even two separate dedicated internet providers will have differing SLAs on their services.   It’s critical to get clear answers around all these elements before moving forward.  Undoubtedly, if your underlay connections are problematic, you will also have SD-WAN problems as well.

Billing, Support & Procurement Consolidation

If your organization chooses to build their own SD-WAN and source your own connectivity you also will need to manage the billing, support, and procurement separately per provider.  This can be challenging, however at Full Span Solutions we do have options to dramatically simplify this.  In fact, some of our provider partners specialize in solving this problem.  They will buy connectivity to your site at a deep wholesale discount from the local providers and then resell it to you.  Of course, the obvious objections are “doesn’t this make it more expensive” and “is support as good?”  These are very valid concerns. Full Span Solutions has vetted many carriers in this market segment and we do have a few we are partial to.  Our favorites are exceptional in all these areas maximizing the value to you.  A robust solution is often only as good as the team that supports it.


Yes, SD-WAN is certainly the future for flexibility, scalability, and security.  Is it simpler than legacy MPLS?  You bet! Full Span Solutions is here to help minimize any of the remaining complexity along the way.  Connect with us today to review your options when choosing an SD-WAN Underlay!