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SD-WAN market poised for growth

Survey shows interest in SD-WAN market

The software-defined Wide Area Network market is poised for 200% growth in the next 12 months, according to a new report from Cato Networks.

In a survey of more than 350 IT professionals, Cato found that nearly a third of participants had either already deployed an SD-WAN (10%) or were planning to do so within the next 12 months (19%). Another 30% were considering the technology without plans to deploy, and those who were holding off typically cited their lack of knowledge of SD-WAN or how new the technology is.

“The excitement around SD-WANs still needs to translate into sustained growth,” Cato added, noting that despite the expectations for significant growth, “nearly half of respondents (47%) indicate no current plans to deploy SD-WANs.”

Vendors and service providers are expanding their SD-WAN options rapidly. Just in the past few weeks, Hughes launched a managed SD-WAN offering, while Comcast is reportedly beta-testing an SD-WAN offering in partnership with Versa Networks. Matt Ellis, CFO of Verizon, told investors at the recent MoffettNathanson conference that the company is “seeing great take rates from [enterprise] customers” for its SD-WAN products. During Windstream’s most recent results call with investors, CEO Anthony Thomas called the SD-WAN market a “tremendous opportunity” and added, “we expect SD-WAN will be a lead product offering for [small-to-medium business] segments.” Thomas cited numbers from Forrester Research that 64% of U.S.-based companies were planning to implement or expand implementations of SD-WAN over the next year.

In many cases, these offerings involve collaborations such as the Comcast/Versa Networks offering — or outright acquisitions. In early May, Cisco announced plans to acquire SD-WAN vendor Viptela for $610 million. In a blog on the acquisition, the company indicated that the purchase will “enable us to expand our portfolio, with increased functionality delivered through the cloud.”

Sprint recently launched its own SD-WAN solution, in partnership with SD-WAN vendor VeloCloud. Sprint has been trialing the offering with customers since the fourth quarter of last year. Sprint is offering both a fully managed SD-WAN option as well as an arrangement under which Sprint provides installation and set-up of the solution and then turns it over to the customer to manage with the help of an SD-WAN dashboard for network visibility.

Don Briscoe, enterprise product marketing manager for Sprint, said that the company is seeing a desire for simplification of the WAN as well as the efficiencies that a hybrid WAN provides — since it doesn’t require a rip-and-replace approach, but still enables customers to maximize the performance of their networks through dynamic steering of traffic. Sprint’s offering can leverage Sprint MPLS or broadband connectivity as well as broadband services from other providers. Briscoe added that Sprint is seeing slightly more demand for the fully-managed option.

MarketsandMarkets predicts that the SD-WAN market will grow from about $738.9 million in 2016 to more than $9 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate or more than 65%.

Among Cato’s other findings:

-63% of survey respondents were worried about the cost of new equipment and/or services that would be needed to deploy SD-WAN, and 34% said that they were investing more in routers and MPLS services.

-Security is a major area of concern with SD-WAN. Fifty-three percent of respondents who deployed SD-WANs boosted their investment in network security appliances, while 72% wanted their SD-WANs to include next-generation firewalls and 60% wanted anti-malware technology to be added to SD-WANs.

-The fact that SD-WAN adopters must manage both physical and virtual networks may actually increase network complexity in the long-term, particularly when it comes to trouble-shooting. However, Cato went on to note that SD-WAN offers value in supporting IT departments’ ability to rapidly adapt to change, and that “more than 80% of implementers responding to the survey noted a significant increase in agility and flexibility.”


Image copyright: joggi2002 / 123RF Stock Photo


Kelly Hill
Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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