All too often when we talk about SD-WAN, conversations can border on the academic. There are questions about “controllers” and “controller redundancy.” We discuss “SD-WAN fabrics” and hear about the need for “APIs.” It’s all so, well, smart. 

But here’s the thing. In the real world, you know the one where you and I live, our problems are often more pedestrian. We worry about practical things, like NAT traversal, managing patching procedures, and figuring out why Tom can’t access his CRM from his home office. The next grand architecture may well be critical to the network of the future but the network of today relies on the mundane.

That point was recently brought home by a customer of mine. The company had contracted to install a circuit at an office in Mexico in a facility owned by a global logistics and supply chain company. The circuit provider was a leading European PTT, who contracted with a Mexican carrier to deliver the local loop.

The customer had a very tight installation deadline but there were delays. Unbeknownst to the PTT, the local carrier tried to make up time by starting work on the installation without a permit. When municipal inspectors stopped the work, causing a further delay, the local loop provider bribed the municipal inspector to continue working. But then the work was stopped by yet another inspector. The company was now subject to fines that appeared to be significant and in the process, a seal was placed on the facility gate.

To make matters worse, this closure has affected the relationship between the customer and logistics company, since it affects their overall operations. While the company may have alternative access to the building, this was an embarrassment and made it appear this major logistics company had violated the law, which was not the case. The fiber provider has asked the logistics company to allow them to finish working on the last mile inside their property to meet the Oct 15 deadline, with the understanding that they will pay the fines.

This was an unreasonable request since the logistic company would have no ability to force the payment issue. It is the global carrier’s responsibility to get the local fiber provider to pay the fines and get the work done. To add to the problem, this whole situation raised the issue of the Foreign Corrupt Actions Act, which is a concern for any public company.

How can you protect yourself from similar antics? It’s a tough question since the contracted carrier is ultimately responsible to assure that all of their subcontractors meet their legal obligations. Your only real protection is time. Be aware that circuit installations always have the chance of taking far longer than you might expect. Like we said, architectures might be nice but the success of your SD-WAN project will likely come down to that old adage — Plan ahead!

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