SD-WAN: A game changer for Asia Pacific

Software-defined Wide Area Networking, or SD-WAN, is well-placed to  take a firm hold in the Asia Pacific region. It looks to be the perfect marriage of technology and terrain, since APAC is home to many countries that are large, some of them vast, with populations spread out over wide geographical areas and in remote locations.

Consider China, India, Australia, ASEAN nations like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, large land areas lacking established connectivity and telecoms infrastructure, with distant branch offices that need to be connected up. Suddenly, SD-WAN becomes a very attractive proposition.

Organizations throughout APAC have been increasingly embracing mobility and seeking to lessen their reliance on MPLS in recent years. At the same time, the quality of internet connectivity and broadband speeds have improved drastically. Cloud is enabling Asia Pacific companies to work more effectively, as business leaders focus on greater agility, cost effectiveness, security and application performance to enhance overall operations.

In Asia Pacific, data to and from the cloud comprises around 50 percent of WAN traffic, and according to Statista, mobile data traffic is set to grow at a CAGR of 49 percent to 2021. Because of this trend, plus the shift to cloud combined with the sprawling nature of much of APAC’s geography, the potential for SD-WAN is huge.

What kicked off the SD-WAN uptake?

Digital transformation is driving SD-WAN growth forward in Asia Pacific. Companies are seeking to exploit all the benefits of digital transformation, embracing cloud computing, big data and analytics, mobility and collaboration tools to uncover new seams of creativity and innovation within their companies – with the ultimate aims of enhancing customer experience and impacting the company’s bottom line.

Cloud too is having a profound effect on SD-WAN growth in Asia Pacific, as are on-demand anything-as-a-Service (XaaS) applications. Public-cloud based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications were the fastest-growing cloud service in APAC in 2017, up 28 percent for the year according to Gartner. The rise in cloud services throughout the region again reflects APAC’s geographical makeup, and has impacted the use of MPLS-based WAN connectivity to branch offices: Organizations are now increasingly turning to SD-WAN for dynamic connectivity optimization and path selection via a centrally-managed, distributed network architecture.

Furthermore, the rise of software-defined networking (SDN) is also fueling the growth of SD-WAN. The ability to enjoy more control over network management and utilize resources on-demand  pushing up cost benefits for organizations, are also big incentives.

And where is it going?

According to Riverbed’s Future of Networking Global Survey 2017, legacy infrastructure is holding cloud and digital transformation strategies back in APAC. A colossal  99 percent of APAC IT decision-makers said they believe legacy infrastructure won’t be able to keep up with the changing demands of cloud and hybrid networks.

Taking it a step further, and endorsing the need for SD-WAN throughout APAC, 93 percent of respondents admitted their cloud strategy can and will only reach full potential via a next generation network, while 98 percent agreed that a next generation network is critical to keep pace with the demands of their business and end-users. Ninety-two percent of those APAC IT decision-makers admitted they intend to migrate to SD-WAN within the next four years.

SD-WAN has the potential to work in harmony with other burgeoning digital technologies to further fuel its growth in APAC. Its tools will over time adopt machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to take WANs to the next level, capable of predicting network behavior in real-time and route network traffic via the best path, identifying potential network problems before customers have noticed them at all for example.

These are exciting times for SD-WAN in general around the world: In its Worldwide SD-WAN Forecast: 2017-2021 report, IDC has predicted that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow at a CAGR of 69.6 percent from 2016, reaching a value of over $8 billion in 2021. Asia Pacific looks like being central to that growth as companies fast embrace SD-WAN’s benefits and potential.

Discover how virtual networking can make your business more agile, and  read this ebook on SD-WAN technology basics.
Steve Harris

I’ve been writing about technology for around 15 years and today focus mainly on all things telecoms - next generation networks, mobile, cloud computing and plenty more. For Futurity Media I am based in the Asia-Pacific region and keep a close eye on all things tech happening in that exciting part of the world.