While Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology was once reserved for smaller-scale operations, it is now seen as a proven, and more mature, network architecture. Today, it is trusted by many distributed enterprises, including those in financial services, healthcare and retail. The exponential growth rate in the SD-WAN market has been spurred by several factors, including the increased demand for cloud-based services as well as the growing appetite for bandwidth by the enterprise branch office. On top of that, there’s also an increased reliance on high-performance networks, prompted by the need for greater mobile connectivity and access to always-on applications.
To meet these challenges, SD-WAN technology reduces the cost and complexity of traditional WAN enterprise networks by automating the configuration of WAN routes. It also ensures a reliable and agile connection that can handle spikes and dynamic traffic by running connections over a hybrid of broadband connections, from MPLS and broadband to 4G/LTE networks. SD-WAN architectures route and prioritize traffic according to policies set by the enterprise in order to optimize connections− all from a centralized controller. In doing this, SD-WAN is seen as one of the biggest disruptive technologies in the networking industry in years. In fact, Gartner predicts that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from$129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020. (Source: Gartner). Here’s a closer look at the drivers of the SD-WAN market:
- Increased use of cloud applications– The increased adoption of cloud-based and hybrid-cloud architectures in the enterprise have caused network managers to rethink traditional WAN networks. WAN networks that once connected branch and remote offices to the corporate office, which then connected to the Internet, are no longer equipped to keep pace. Today’s=-09 common SaaS applications as well as Unified Communication and Collaboration (UC&C) applications, storage and backup applications, and IaaS such as Microsoft Azure, rely on more responsive network architectures. As companies continue to look for the ability to balance loads across the WAN and route traffic over cost-optimal links, SD-WAN adoption will continue to grow at a fiery pace.
- More options from more vendors– Industry analyst firm IDC estimates that for the 2015–2020 period, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the SD-WAN market will be over 90%. (Source: IDC). Much of that growth will come from the likes of enterprise networking hardware and WAN optimization vendors (i.e. Cisco, Riverbed Technology, Nokia) as well as startups and integrators. Other service providers will make up the rest of the market gap, such as those that deliver SD-WAN managed services, cloud-managed SD-WAN services or hybrid SD-WAN providers. When evaluating SD-WAN vendors or cloud service providers, consider factors that could cost you down the road, like security and interoperability.
With a growing number of SD-WAN vendors out there, issues around interoperability are more important than ever. A successful SD-WAN deployment will require a network infrastructure that can seamlessly connect across the branch, campus, and multiple cloud instances. Only then is centralized network management and optimized end-to-end routing of SaaS and other applications possible. To get there, ask service providers questions about SD-WAN cloud intelligence options that promise better monitoring, greater agility and consistent security.
Other SD-WAN services combine a managed MPLS service with the bandwidth of a broadband internet WAN connection at the branch site. This gives users even greater reliability and performance. That’s because connectivity is dynamically routed based on best available links looking at latency, jitter and SLA requirements of specific business applications. Other options like the hybrid WAN let organizations slowly migrate applications to the cloud, as the business grows or needs change.
When network traffic can be optimized and routed based on application requirements, cloud service delivery can be optimized across the entire enterprise. SD-WAN architectures make this possible by simplifying and optimizing network configurations. In doing so, enterprises are finding ways to improve performance significantly and cut network complexity. Today’s leading businesses are also benefiting from centralized management capabilities across the WAN architecture and reduced capital and operational expenses.