In the networking industry, there may be fatigue around the use of "software-defined," but not when it comes to the WAN. While the hype around software-defined networking has worn off, software-defined WAN continues to generate plenty of buzz.
Networking experts say SD-WAN is succeeding because it offers enterprises a tangible solution for a specific pain point: the complex and costly WAN. SD-WAN technologies, which use many of the same concepts as SDN, allow companies to mix and match broadband, MPLS and other WAN links, and have a centralized controller prioritize traffic according to policy. The products streamline WAN configuration and management and can reduce costs by reducing the amount of traffic carried over expensive MPLS links.
"SD-WAN is going to change one of the most irritating aspects of networking technology for us… IPSec VPNs, traffic analytics, and application identification are so easy it’s scary. That’s the power of SD-WAN to me," Tom Hollingsworth, organizer of Tech Field Day and an Interop ITX Review Board member, wrote in a recent blog post.
According to market research analysts, the SD-WAN market is red hot. IDC has forecast that rapid enterprise adoption will drive market revenue to $6 billion in 2020.
Enterprises trying to choose an SD-WAN provider face a daunting array of choices. The market is crowded with pure-play startups that pioneered the space such as VeloCloud, Viptela, and Cloud Genix along with established infrastructure vendors like Cisco and WAN optimization specialists such as Riverbed. In recent months, a number of service providers, including Verizon and AT&T, have jumped into the market by partnering with SD-WAN vendors to offer managed SD-WAN.
Experts expect the SD-WAN market will begin consolidating this year. But in the meantime, how does an enterprise make a choice? Ethan Banks, co-founder of Packet Pushers and Interop ITX Review Board member, offers this advice: "Don't assume these SD-WAN products are all the same. They have different features and functions, therefore you have to do your homework on what these SD-WAN platforms can do. Once you identity what you're trying to achieve and what products match what you're trying to achieve, have a bakeoff."
SD-WAN products have different ways of integrating into your network and different pricing models, he added. "You have to spend time to research the solutions out there armed with a strong knowledge of how this will work for your business and go from there."
To help you get familiar with the SD-WAN landscape, we've highlighted some of the more prominent SD-WAN vendors in the market. Our list is not a ranking; vendors are in alphabetical order. This sample does not include service provider offerings, but notes vendors that have teamed with service providers for managed SD-WAN.
Learn more about SD-WAN at Interop ITX May 15-19 in Las Vegas. The technology will be discussed at several sessions, including the "Packet Pushers Future of Networking Summit" with Packet Pushers Co-Founders Ethan Banks and Greg Ferro. Register now for Interop ITX.