by Kelly Higgins, VP Solutions Architecture – Tier4 Advisors

By many measures, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and the more commonly used terminology, SD-WAN, is still in its infancy from a market penetration and customer deployment perspective. An IDC report published in Network World stated that, “Over the next five years, SD-WAN sales will grow at a 69% compound annual growth rate, hitting $8.05 billion in 2021.” As you would expect, more and more service providers are jumping into the SD-WAN fray with their own version (or flavor) of the technology. And just as cloud services technology has garnered categories or labels including private, public, hybrid, on-premise or off-premise etc., so too has SD WAN.

Today’s SD WAN market can be broken down into broad categories that include pure-play vendors like Velo Cloud, Cloud Genix, Aryaka, and Talari who built their SD-WAN services mostly from the ground-up and with one focus in mind. Service providers of cloud and traditional networks like Tata Communications, Verizon, NTT, and AT&T make up a second category. Each are leveraging (and protecting) their customer base who may be using existing networks (i.e. MPLS) and partnering or acquiring other SD-WAN providers to grow their SD WAN presence. Other network providers, like CenturyLink and Comcast, are joining the list. Network hardware vendors comprise a third category. These providers include Cisco, Juniper, Citrix and Riverbed. Both Cisco and Juniper began embedding SDN functionality into their network gear a few years ago, vying to leverage their respective customer base and hoping to set industry standards. As other entrants (mentioned above) have emerged, network hardware companies are reevaluating their SD-WAN strategy. For example, Cisco recently acquired Viptela, which is a pure-play SD-WAN provider and Juniper is pushing its agnostic Contrail open source SD-WAN platform.  

Each category of provider has its pros and cons. Regardless, SD WAN is a game-changer and is positioned to replace traditional network technology.  Benefits can include cost savings, ease and speed of deploying new connections, integration with cloud providers, network optimization, and better performance. Organizations should examine and research the advantages of maintaining and managing in-house SDN/S-WAN capabilities versus the use of purpose built, ready-to-deploy new SD-WAN technology. There are many choices and decisions to make in the process. A recent whitepaper from Citrix published in TechTarget commented that, “Although most SD-WAN products address the same problems, they provide very different levels of capability. Enterprises evaluating SD-WAN solutions should understand the different levels of functionality available to solve different problems, determine what level they require, and look for products that offer those capabilities.”

Tier4 Advisors offers solutions and the expertise to help clients understand and demystify the SD WAN landscape.  Go to the Contact page and fill out the form so we can help you get started.

Tier4 Blog Edition 9: October 11, 2017