One MSP's SD-WAN Demo Lab Eliminates The Hypothetical, Re-Creates Real-World Scenarios

MNJ Technologies has built an SD-WAN demo lab that is giving customers a taste of how the technology can change the way they do business, Benjamin Niernberg, the MSP’s senior vice president of sales and services, tells CRN.

Managed service provider MNJ Technologies wants to prove the value of SD-WAN even before the customer deploys the technology.

MNJ Technologies, based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., launched an SD-WAN demo lab that lets customers test-drive a handful of SD-WAN services. The demo lab can imitate real-world scenarios to show businesses how SD-WAN can impact their IT environments for the better, said Benjamin Niernberg, senior vice president of sales and services for MNJ Technologies.

"We realized that so much of what we were talking about was hypothetical," Niernberg said. "To demo a product for a customer, you have to do a proof of concept, but we decided that to really differentiate ourselves was to show customers in a real-live environment how these products can change the way they do business."

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[Related: Restarting Growth: MNJ Looks Outside The Box, And Outside The Company]

The lab lets customers put six SD-WAN technologies through their paces, including services from Oracle, Silver Peak, Cisco Systems and Cisco Meraki, Fortinet and Cloudgenix. The lab offers WAN emulation, which can simulate any available circuit type and bandwidth that a customer may have to demonstrate how SD-WAN can balance traffic, Niernberg said.

The lab environment also can test for specific network conditions such as packet loss, latency, jitter and out-of-order packets, high congestion, and even dropped connectivity to show customers how failover would work if SD-WAN was being used, Niernberg said.

"We can re-create our customers' WAN and LAN environments and show them in real time exactly how each provider handles things like latency and packet loss, and the power and the peace of mind that can give the customer," he said.

The lab is helping customers make "much more educated decisions" on which SD-WAN service is the best fit for their environment, Niernberg said. It also has helped shorten MNJ Technologies' sales cycle and deployment time because the company can be very definitive about the results a customer can expect, he added.

Any customer in an active SD-WAN sale with MNJ Technologies or a business that is still evaluating SD-WAN can be brought into the lab physically in its Buffalo Grove headquarters or virtually, according to the company.

One of MNJ Technologies’ customers that recently took advantage of the lab was torn between two SD-WAN providers. “By coming in and seeing the way each provider handled different instances and circumstances, it gave the customer the ability to make a decision that wasn't based on the manufacturer's specifications, but based on a real-life example," Niernberg said.

MNJ Technologies got its start as a VAR 17 years ago but saw its sales start to plateau in 2015. The company knew it had to move away from its reseller roots focused on selling commodity hardware to that of a managed service provider selling SD-WAN, security and connectivity solutions.

Niernberg was brought on in 2017 and was tasked with transforming the business to restart its growth. The pivot was the ticket—the company started to address the changing problems of its customers by launching its managed services business.

"We saw what was happening and decided we were going to be highly focused on the edge with solutions like SD-WAN, security, cloud migration and connectivity," Niernberg said. "That business has been going strong ever since."