2017 was a defining year for SD-WANs, with analysts IDC predicting the market for SD-WAN to grow to USD 8bn by 2021. Technology vendors and IT leaders already tracking this space with great interest. As the concept starts to enter the mainstream, here are some of the key trends that will drive the SD-WAN space in the near-term.
Large Tech Vendors Will Increase Their Footprint
We have already seen a number of startups in the SD-WAN space, such as CloudGenix, RiverBed, Viptela and VeloCloud. Companies such as AryakaNetworks have been around since 2009, though their SD-WAN presence is very recent. This year, large tech players such as Cisco will have a bigger play in the SD-WAN space, with its iWAN suite of WAN technologies. Cisco has also acquired Viptela to bolster its SD-WAN appliance portfolio. Other tech leaders such as Citrix (NetScaler) and VMWare (which has acquired VeloCloud) have also made significant headway in the SD-WAN market.
MPLS is not expected to disappear in the near future. Considering that MPLS is a proven, trusted network protocol for high volume traffic, it continues to find place in legacy network architecture. Organizations, rather than do away with MPLS, are more likely to overlay their current networks with WAN optimization services. A hybrid WAN strategy allows organizations to leverage the low cost bandwidth of the public internet, along with the availability and performance of SD-WAN. For example, low availability traffic such as internal portals can use internet links, while high performance needs such as alerts can be driven through MPLS.
Virtualization of Traditional Network Functions
As organizations move to software defined network architectures, they also need to leverage Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) to virtualize key network services such as optimization, routing, caching, load balancing and security. This allows organizations to converge these core network functions into a single device, and simplifies network management. NFV is likely to become an area of priority for Cloud Service Providers and telecom service providers.
Applying analytics on network and traffic data will create a large number of opportunities to enhance operation performance and lower business risks. Tech leaders such as CA have already introduced analytics tools in the market that provide a single few of truth for all network resources and data.
New concepts like “user performance management” are coming into play. This involves using predictive models and cognitive technologies to proactively assess user needs and preferences. This allows networks to become extremely efficient, and minimizes latency / availability issues. Next-generation analytics tools for network traffic management would be able to process massive datasets of network information, to discover usage trends and make a comprehensive assessment of network health.
Greater Involvement of MSPs
Most cloud infrastructure vendors and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) will build the necessary infrastructure components to support SD-WAN. MSPs will play an important role in driving vendor-agnostic SD-WAN implementations. Managed SD-WAN services will ensure companies to address quality of service (QoS) and carrier lock-in challenges. MSPs will also play an important role in Hybrid WAN implementations and deployment of cloud-based SD-WAN components. Netmagic is one of the leaders in India, providing a complete suite of managed SD-WAN services, from network design, implementation, service orchestration, network function virtualization and hybrid WAN features.
These are only a few trends that will shape the space in the coming year. With growing customer adoption and new vendors entering the space, we can expect a significant amount of evolution in the long-term. CIOs need to keep a close watch on these trends and engage well in advance with their cloud service providers to optimize their SD-WAN strategy.
Ravi Jha is the Associate Vice President – Product & Services (Network) at NTT Communications India Pvt Ltd