SD-WAN Moving from Mainstream to What’s Next


The first wave of software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) gained traction with organizations looking to lower their networking costs, through reduced reliance on expensive MPLS in favor of alternatives like commodity internet. More recently, SD-WANs have delivered operational advantages in addition to these savings, including superior application performance, dynamic routing and more rapid deployment of remote or branch office (ROBO) sites.

We’ve often pointed to SD-WAN’s popularity surge between 2014, when there were virtually no active production deployments, and 2017, when more than 6,000 of them were in operation, according to Gartner. The multifaceted benefits of SD-WAN, beyond straightforward cost reduction, were instrumental to this rapid growth in uptake.

This year, SD-WAN reached another milestone, as it – along with SDN and network virtualization – rivaled network security as a trend in EMA’s Network Megatrends 2018. What’s on the horizon for SD-WAN, now that its transformative power is more widely embraced?

Here are a few of the trends worth watching in the near term in terms of SD-WAN solutions:

Evolving Consumption Models

While SD-WAN’s value proposition is more widely accepted than it was a few years ago, potential buyers are still bifurcated with they want to actually consume it. There are many options, including specialized SD-WAN vendors, major carriers, general network or WAN vendors and managed services providers.

A 2017 survey of IT decision-makers by ESG found divided responses on this question, with no consumption model cited by more than 26 percent of respondents while a similar percentage stated a preference for DIY via a networking vendor. The takeaway here is that the market is still young and there is plenty of opportunity remaining for SD-WAN vendors to differentiate themselves from the competition through approaches such as:

  • Integrating SD-WAN services into managed circuit or communications services providers
  • Including more SD-WAN offerings in managed WAN or general networking services
  • Supporting SD-WAN through private clouds or other setups agnostic to carrier relationships

Security as an SD-WAN Differentiator

The SD-WAN versus traditional WAN calculus often focuses on cost and transport flexibility, as we noted earlier. At the same time, security is a necessary consideration, since the switch from a device-centric security model to centralized management is so dramatic.

An IDC survey found security, WAN optimization and policy control/management as the top considerations when adopting SD-WAN. An SD-WAN can provide a substantial security upgrade over an MPLS WAN, although a lot depends on the specific services it provides. A few of the major difference-makers include:

  • Integrations with cloud security services from vendors like Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks
  • Consolidation of security devices within customer premise SD-WAN equipment
  • Network traffic segmentation and encryption of all conduits and paths

Talari Networks is a proven provider of failsafe SD-WAN solutions that meet the security and performance requirements of today’s enterprises. Find out more by viewing the e-book below or setting up a custom demo with our team.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), Branch Office Simplification

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