SASE Behind the Scenes: Inside the VMware SASE Professional Services Team

The VMware SASE Professional Services (PS) team provides a comprehensive portfolio of services that exploit the unique opportunities enabled by VMware technology. Drawing on their unparalleled product expertise and customer experience, the team collaborates with enterprise customers to drive their IT transformation — delivering highly impactful results for their business.

We sat down with Aengus Linehan, senior director of VMware Customer Deployment, Services, and Support to get the latest updates on the PS team’s business and how they support VMware customers.

Tell us about your PS team.

Enterprise networking delivery teams may not possess the expertise nor the capacity to deliver large complex transformation projects. Our PS team solves that by accelerating their transformation from a legacy network environment to a next-gen SD-WAN architecture, with all the benefits that entails.

This is supported by a global team of project managers and senior solution consultants backed by a global ecosystem of 35 services partners, empowering our team to rapidly scale and deliver globally. 

What kind of risks do chief networking officers face when transitioning from legacy vendors to their VMware SD-WAN solution? How does our technology and the PS team mesh to offset that risk?

An enterprise may have a legacy networking solution that is stable, manageable, and operational, however, it often may be expensive and inflexible. The need to reduce cost and increase operational flexibility justifies switching to an industry-leading solution like VMware SASE™. Change can carry risk for teams who may not have the capacity or expertise to drive a comprehensive transformation of network infrastructure. Enterprises often grapple with the challenge of designing, deploying, operating, and managing a new technology solution.

Our PS team addresses this risk for enterprises. How does this work? For a fixed price, we join forces with their IT teams to design and deploy their solution. Then we train them to operate and manage the system themselves, ensuring full knowledge transfer and long-term ability for the enterprise to grow and evolve their SD-WAN network.

How does your PS team help customers transform from legacy networking to a modern SD-WAN architecture?

We kick things off by conducting design sessions with the customer and their architects to review their legacy architecture and future network requirements. Once the design is agreed upon, the actual build-out and deployment follows.

For example, a major athletic footwear company recently decided to transform its network architecture by integrating VMware SD-WAN™. This company operates stores, offices, and factories globally, all of which run on an enterprise network. Moving from their legacy environment to SD-WAN is tantamount to performing heart replacement surgery — it requires a seamless lift and shift of their network infrastructure and connectivity that must ensure uninterrupted business continuity.

After our design sessions revealed their requirements, we created a solution design document and a strategy for deployment, where our program managers and engineers collaborated with their engineers to formulate an optimal migration or cutover plan that wouldn’t affect the customer’s production environment.

And because cutover is so key, we created lab environments to simulate what their final environment would look like, running tests to validate that a seamless transition would be achieved.

Following that, we executed the implementation in hubs and branches and documented how we met their network requirements.

We also went the extra step by providing knowledge transfer, conducting a series of training workshops where we instructed them on how to work with our support teams, ensuring a smooth transition to support. Additionally, we shared how we designed and implemented their solution — empowering them to maintain and evolve their environment by themselves.

What are a few PS activities that help optimize enterprise network environments?

Once a customer has deployed VMware SD-WAN, we have a portfolio of services to ensure they are getting the best from their investment. These services include:

  • VMware Design Review Service recognizes that some customers will manage their own SD-WAN deployment. With this service, our team provides feedback on an enterprise’s high-level design and low-level design documents to achieve the optimum architecture. This assures that the subsequent deployment follows VMware’s best practices and uncovers any possible hidden issues to prevent outages. 
  • After the solution is implemented, VMware Customer Success Management Services is available through an annual subscription, where a named Customer Engagement Manager (CEM) acts as the enterprise’s escalation point of contact. Additionally, the CEM provides updates on best practices, reference architectures, and recommendations from VMware — ensuring the customer continues to operate an optimal network. In this role, the CEM also reviews and prioritizes open support tickets, directing support requests to key VMware functional teams.
  • Available through an annual subscription or a per-week basis, the VMware Resident Engineer Service provides enterprises with a designated SD-WAN consultant who directly supports Day 2 operations and support, design, configuration, and knowledge transfer needs. The engineer can embed within the enterprise IT teams for a period of time, providing deep technical skills post-deployment and resolving any issues in real-time to further ensure their success.

What is a recent success story?

Bancolombia — the largest bank in Columbia — transferred from legacy WAN networks to VMware SD-WAN. Consequently, they have slashed connectivity spending across their branches and automatic cashiers, boosted traffic visibility, enhanced app performance, and more.

How did they achieve that? The project began when our PS team collaborated with the bank’s engineers on how to transform their current rolling protocols and underlay to support our solution and how they could best utilize our technology to fill their gaps.

The PS team closed on a high-level design within just one month and implemented it for the bank’s 680 branches within only four months.

Immediately following deployment, the bank leveraged the Designated Resident Engineer Service for six months, where a PS team member worked with the bank’s IT team to ensure their end-to-end success.

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