SD-WAN adoption is growing at an impressive clip with the market predicted to reach $8 billion by 2021, according to analyst firm IDC. It’s no wonder businesses are clamoring to tap into the many benefits provided by SD-WAN implementations including cost savings of up to 50 percent, increased network resiliency, and better application performance across complex network environments. But, there are also several broader trends contributing to the accelerated adoption of SD-WAN technology.
As you consider embarking on a new SD-WAN deployment, keep in mind these four factors influencing its meteoric rise:
Service providers reengineering themselves to capture SD-WAN market share
Service providers are aggressively building out and selling managed SD-WAN offerings today. Working quickly to stay ahead of emerging “build it yourself” alternatives, they’re carving out their slice of the SD-WAN pie. If a service provider is already managing the network, they’re well positioned to plan, deploy and maintain a new, turnkey SD-WAN solution for customers as well.
Why would a business choose to build and manage their own SD-WAN implementation instead? There are a variety of reasons the “self-service” approach can be more appealing. Many businesses don’t want to deal with the commitment and term agreements that come with outsourcing. Some companies prefer to have the agility and flexibility to play providers off one another and remain in control of their own destiny.
However, the moves we see within the SD-WAN space are very similar to those present in other managed service provider markets – you can either outsource, insource, or out-task. Managed SD-WAN will continue to become increasingly popular, which is one of the ways SD-WAN will continue to become more accessible each year. That said, regardless of how the SD-WAN is deployed and managed, every business still needs the ability to access granular visibility into all areas of the network to optimize, maintain and troubleshoot increasingly complex environments.
Continued advancements in network agility
In the past, network routing policies were relatively basic. Applications like voice calls would go out over MPLS, while email would go through broadband. Today, cloud-based controllers have gained a massive amount of intelligence, and we’re witnessing a major shift in the routing paradigm for how application data and traffic moves.
This has led to the emergence of intent-based policies, or routing determinations, that are made “on the fly,” based on criteria that optimize for available bandwidth, cost, priority, and performance. The network is much more agile as a consequence, which translates to SD-WAN benefits like increased automation and immediate cost savings.
These advantages can only be realized once you’re able to visualize all areas of the hybrid network fabric, from legacy infrastructure to SD-WANs and more, in order to plan those routing policies, visually verify they’re working, and adjust as needed.
Networking and security vendors are converging capabilities
In late 2018, Cisco announced it would be unifying its security and SD-WAN. This secure SD-WAN service is a perfect example of a trend we see elsewhere as well. Security vendors like WatchGuard Technologies and SonicWall have recently built SD-WAN capabilities into their security appliances. Although Cisco is clearly the 800-pound gorilla in this space, with a major advantage in terms of active routing infrastructure worldwide, the integration of SD-WAN capabilities into products from vendors of varying sizes and market segments can only mean that SD-WAN will continue to become increasingly accessible in the future.
The emergence of next-generation network monitoring tools
Another major trend driving increased SD-WAN adoption is the growing sophistication of network monitoring or Network Performance Management and Diagnostics (NPMD) tools. As interest in SD-WAN grows, so does the need and adoption of sophisticated network management solutions. In order to truly tap into the cost, performance and resiliency benefits SD-WAN offers, businesses need network management solutions that can validate telco SLAs, assess the quality of individual paths and VPNs, provide visual presentations of interconnected conditions and their current status, display SD-WAN topology views and site-to-site maps, and deliver detailed visualizations of public and virtual private clouds, critical applications and more.
Recently, there’s been a surge of momentum behind advanced NPMD solutions, which is a byproduct of the industry-wide move toward SD-WAN adoption. Without these tools, it would be incredibly hard to deploy SD-WANs because you lose visibility into various performance issues and the overall conditions of the underlying network. Essentially, these solutions allow businesses to simplify the management of their complex networks, including the process of planning, deploying, and operating SD-WANs.
Pulling it all together
Organizations will continue to adopt SD-WAN at a faster pace as service providers and vendors expand the range of deployment options. In order to achieve SD-WAN success, NetOps teams need solutions that provide comprehensive network visibility and can allow them to implement and manage these complex architectures as they merge and interact with legacy infrastructure.