SD-WAN has blown past all of our 2017 expectations. It has become one of the hottest trends in networking, and forecasts are increasing every quarter with IDC predicting the size of the SD-WAN market to be $8.05B by 2021.

My colleagues keep asking me, “Where do we go from here?” Will the forecasts continue to increase? Is there enough demand in the market for over 40 SD-WAN vendors to survive? Is there really a need for routers in today’s increasingly virtual network? And the question I get asked the most: Who is going to be acquired next?

Digital transformation continues to be the driver behind network refresh. Increasing bandwidth, cloud IaaS and SaaS applications along with WAN complexity and security are largely the same as in previous years, but these disruptions have evolved and are becoming increasingly important issues IT needs to solve across their networks and not just the WAN.

Digital Disruption. More devices, creating more data is challenging IT. How can IT manage more devices coming online when they lack business and IT insights into what is happening on the network.

Complexity. Branches contain multiple devices, this means IT has to make changes to each device separately and in most cases manually resulting in IT being slow and prone to errors.

Security. The number of security attacks continues at a relentless pace and attacks are becoming more sophisticated and coming from both inside and outside of networks and IT is having a hard time keeping up with an unconstrained attack surface.

Technology innovation is going to determine what’s next for SD-WAN in 2018. While I don’t have a crystal ball, here’s what I predict for SD-WAN in 2018:

  1. More consolidation in the marketplace: The acquisitions of both Viptela and VeloCloud indicate that there continues to be significant customer demand but also that SD-WAN has reached maturity. Expect to see more consolidation as both technology vendors and service providers look to expand their portfolios and offerings with SD-WAN.
  2. Managed services providers dive into virtualization: MSP’s are looking to transform their infrastructure going beyond offering connectivity to more value added services. Expect to see MSP’s to deploy large scale networks with virtualized CPE solutions using flexible software licensing for greater agility and investment protection.
  3. SD-WAN will evolve beyond pure SD-WAN: Enterprises like the simplicity of SD-WAN but want to consolidate all their branch devices. Look for SD-WAN vendors to start adding more comprehensive security and WAN optimization functionality along with support for virtualization into a single platform.
  4. Artificial intelligence: SD-WAN will provide connectivity to your end-points, but what is the most optimum path for traffic to be routed over your WAN? Intent-based networking will make it easier to manage and operate your WAN and it will also use AI and machine learning to become smarter ensuring you WAN stays healthy under all traffic conditions.
  5. Security designed to work together: Effective security needs end-to-end visibility, not just across the WAN. To ensure that the branch and WAN is protected from increasingly complex threats, expect to see SD-WAN platforms include more embedded security that uses advanced threat detection techniques.Direct internet access and cloud access require security to protect data passing over the internet but machine learning will be required to see all threats, even those in encrypted traffic.

The SD-WAN market is going to look very different this time next year. Tell me your predictions, or if you think I’ve missed the mark on any of mine. Comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @ghodgaonkar.



Kiran Ghodgaonkar

Senior Manager, Enterprise Marketing

Intent-based Networking Group