Research Finds Room to Grow in SD-WAN Market

February 16, 2017

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, SD-WAN Contributor

Software-defined networking (SDN) is helping companies do more than ever before. By centralizing and simplifying control of enterprise network management, companies can build a framework to support data-intensive applications like big data and virtualization while at the same time meeting obligations for mobility. SDN provides organizations with the means to manage virtual machines and big data network traffic all from a centralized view of the entire network.

Under the broader umbrella of SDN is SD-WAN, which provides enterprises with unprecedented network flexibility. A virtualized WAN is able to cope with almost any transport protocol, including 3G, 4G LTE (News - Alert), MPLS, Internet, Ethernet, Serial or Wi-Fi, which is compelling, since the average corporate network is constructed from a mix of networks from multiple carriers that use differing transmission technologies. At the same time, SD-WAN technology does it more securely and cost-effectively than traditional network technology, in part thanks to the addition of a programming interface to network devices, according to a recent analyst report by Gigaom Research.

“These APIs allow programmers comprehensive access to a network device’s on-board software that enables new ways of configuring the network,” wrote Gigaom analyst Greg Ferro. “More profound is the ability to allow applications to ‘talk’ directly to a network as a total system, rather than device by device.”

The research, which analyzed the future for the WAN market, found that WAN services consume a large part of the IT telecommunications budget, which accounts for around 40 percent of total IT spending. Thanks to new software-defined capabilities that add features and reduce costs, the market is expected to grow strongly in the coming years. This may mean, however, that companies will need to spend some money to take advantage of it, particularly if they rely on applications sensitive to latency, such as telephony in unified communications. Companies need to ensure when they purchase that their solution will provide intelligent path control that can steer traffic based on the urgency of the application.

“WAN will continue growing and consuming budget with the adoption of cloud-based applications, so managing cost while extracting value from these networking resources is vital,” wrote Ferro. “At the same time, applications are consuming network resources and must be able to request and provision network services on demand; sometimes they require additional bandwidth to fulfill service requirements.”

The Gigaom reported noted that there is still plenty of room for growth and innovation in SD-WAN technology. WAN complexity is increasing, while reliability and resiliency are perceived to be declining, which indicates that current approaches to carrier diversity and path redundancy may not be enough if companies hope to take full advantage of the benefits of software-defied WAN. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle