For me, 2016 can be described as “SD-WAN euphoria.” Everyone was talking about SD-WAN. But when listening to analysts, attending tradeshows or presenting to customers, one of the most common questions I asked, or was asked, is “What exactly is SD-WAN?” To highlight just how much opinions differ, IDC and Gartner each predict the size of the SD-WAN market to be $6B and $1.24B respectively by 2020 – That is quite a difference!
Regardless of the size of the SD-WAN market, it was clear that SD-WAN adoption is increasing and will continue to do so in 2017. Why? The branch and WAN are being impacted by three key trends:
- Devices: More mobile devices consuming rich data and video
- SaaS: Increased consumption of applications hosted in the cloud
- Big Data: More IoT devices generating large amounts of information
Jeff Reed, SVP of Cisco’s Enterprise Infrastructure and Solutions Group, recently blogged about Networking Trends for 2017 and the first two relate directly to SD-WAN: WAN Redesign and NFV Comes to the Enterprise. I want to elaborate on this, so here’s what I think is in store for SD-WAN in 2017:
- Flexible hosting options: Cloud applications are changing how branches are designed. Branches are becoming like smaller campus networks connecting to public clouds, co-location facilities and the data center. SD-WAN will need to be flexible enough to be hosted in each of these locations in both hardware and software (virtualized) form factors without compromising on performance or management simplicity.
- Improved security capabilities: SD-WAN has primarily been about securing connectivity between locations using a secure overlay. However, connecting branches directly to the Internet is critical for improving the performance of applications hosted in the cloud, but it can also expose your branch threats. Expect to see security become more integrated into branch platforms and complemented by cloud-based security and analytics for faster threat detection for web, SaaS and even encrypted traffic.
- Virtualizing the branch: SD-WAN, Next Generation Firewall and WAN Optimization might still be required in the branch but enterprises want more flexibility to deploy and consume network functions as needed rather than all at once in a single platform. Expect to see more virtualization of traditional, physical network functions in the branch combined with broader automation capabilities that will reduce deployment time and increase agility.
- Increased managed service offerings: The opportunity to provide enterprises with additional services like security, monitoring and application optimization, beyond basic connectivity is a compelling value proposition of SD-WAN for providers. Expect to see more service providers offer SD-WAN as a managed service as well as resellers, systems integrators and IT services companies who are looking to expand their service offerings by giving enterprises more choice.
- End-to-end interoperability: Digital transformation will require network infrastructure to seamlessly connect any user to any application with the best user experience. This will require SD-WAN to work across the branch, campus, data center and cloud with open and programmable architectures for vendor interoperability. Expect to see greater interoperability across the enterprise with centralized management and monitoring that will ensure greater agility, uniform security and an overall better quality of experience for all users.
This is my view of the SD-WAN market for 2017. I’d like to hear yours. Comment below or reach out to me on twitter @ghodgaonkar.