It’s a WAN-derful World

12 March 2018 | Editorial


48% of enterprise respondents at the last WAN Summit event in London said they had plans to implement an SD-WAN service, but were either in the process of selecting a partner or yet to begin the selection

The figures, taken as a part of a live polling session at the Capacity-ran event, highlight the growing opportunity that software-defined wide area networks offers to the global carrier community.

A key driver behind pursuing an SD-WAN strategy was the reduction in costs, attendees said. 37% of attendees identified cost saving as the primary reason for their own, or their customers’, SD-WAN deployments, with a boost to performance identified as the next most popular reason (26%). The reduction in provisioning times was also highlighted as a key factor at the event, which had around 300 attendees.

Figures released by IDC last year predicted a boom in the market that would see sales of SD-WANs grow at a compound annual rate of 69% over the next five years. IDC estimated the market would top $1.19 billion by the end of 2017 – a massive growth from the $225 million in sales recorded in 2015. This will grow even further, hitting $8.05 billion in 2021.

“SD-WAN offers compelling value for its ability to defray MPLS costs, simplify and automate WAN operations, improve application traffic management, and dynamically deliver on the cost and efficiency benefits associated with intelligent path selection,” IDC analysts Rohit Mehra and Brad Casemore wrote in IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Forecast, 2017–2021. When looking at vendors, 52% of enterprises identified a network operator as their preferred provider of the service, opting for a managed SD-WAN. This compares with 27%, who said they’d prefer to opt for a direct purchase from and SD-WAN vendor or supplier, and 9% who said they’d prefer to op for an outsourced network manager.

So what are the key considerations when picking an SD-WAN vendor? Pricing again was the most common option – almost half of attendees picked that as the most important SD-WAN feature by vendor,. The deployment model (ie. hardware vs. virtual appliance) was also a vital component, with 28% of respondents identifying it. 8% said the monitoring features were most important, while almost 7% went for security.

Curiously, MPLS remains dominant for enterprises connecting to their cloud providers, with 46% of respondents identifying it as their most common network product for that purpose. Dedicated internet access (DIA) was the primary connectivity solution for 30% of respondents, whilst 11% said they use broadband most. This is perhaps no surprise given 63% of respondents said they still anticipate having MPLS services at most sites in their WAN in the next year – almost twice the amount who said no.

WAN security was found to be primarily edge-based, according to a whopping 89% of respondents. Just 11% said they used cloud-based security services on their WAN. The live polling was conducted at this year’s WAN Summit London, part of the WAN Summit series which also includes events in New York, Frankfurt and Singapore, as well as the WANalysis quarterly newsletter, which is produced by Capacity Media.

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