For nearly two decades, enterprise WAN remained impervious to disruption. Cut to the present: the situation has changed dramatically. Thanks to the emergence of big data, cloud, mobile and IoT technologies, software defined networking is gaining prominence. The SD-WAN opportunity promises to disrupt the WAN market which has been waiting for an innovation of this scale. As enterprise branch network requirements accelerate rapidly, IDC estimates SD-WAN market size to touch USD 8 billion by 2021.
How SD-WAN delivers on its promise
In just three years since its emergence, SD-WAN adoption has sky-rocketed, making the technology a mainstream force to reckon and on its way to becoming the future of network optimization. Here’s why. Enterprises need networks that help businesses keep pace with changing needs without breaking the bank. SD-WAN technology meets both criteria. It enables application-aware networking, dynamic path selection, centralized configuration management, and affords freedom from underlying transport technology (MPLS, broadband, or LTE).The result: superior user experience and reduction in WAN transport spend by up to 40%.
As WAN technologies continue to evolve to meet the growing demand for more bandwidth, better performance, and flexibility, here are five trends that are likely to dominate this space in 2018:
#1 Managed SD-WAN will continue to be hot: SD-WAN-as-a-service is a business model that rides on top of growing cloud usage and provides enterprisesgreater flexibility, significant reduction in WAN TCO, and simplified branch WAN deployments. For enterprises, it removes the headache of having to manage network infrastructure and connectivity issues.
#2 SD-WAN popularity will signal the end of edge routers: SD-WAN subscriptions are flexible by nature, thereby making it redundant for enterprises to invest in edge routers. In a significant shift, a large proportion of WAN edge infrastructure refreshes in the near future will be based on vCPE or SD-WAN appliances versus traditional routers.
#3 MPLS will stay, despite immense pressure: The distinct last-mile management advantage of MPLS will help secure its place in enterprise networks, even as the demand for bandwidth and cloud services soars. Many cable providers and even router vendors have begun offering managed SD-WAN atop their existing MPLS offerings.
#4 Security of SD-WANs will emerge as a key differentiator: Cloud, mobility and IoT applications rely heavily on SD-WANs for seamless information exchange. This makes SD-WAN security a key concern for enterprises and the next big opportunity for service providers. Expect to see features like next-generation firewall, unified threat management and antivirus functions in SD-WANs soon.
#5 Compatibility with IoT, Wi-Fi, and 5G will be critical: Wi-Fi connectivity and IoT deployments are increasing rapidly, and 4G networks are migrating to 5G. To enable superior operational benefits for businesses, SD-WAN must be integrated with Wi-Fi controllers and have the ability to connect to smart things in real time and offer native support for 5G networks.
With WAN, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach
Even as digital business transformation ushers in an era of WAN evolution, it’s important to understand that different WAN infrastructure technologies such as cloud management and orchestration, SDN, and advanced LTE,support specific use cases. Deciding whether one of them or a cluster of them is best-suited to your organizational goals is the key to realizing superior ROI from WAN investments. An expert WAN service provider can provide the right guidance here. Choosing the right managed services provider ensures not just seamless operational efficiency but also helps future-proof your network capability to meet the demands of a modern workplace.