SD-WAN is a journey, not a destination

SD-WAN has passed the early adopter stage and has now become the go-to network technology for enterprises to enhance performance and agility, lower connectivity costs and simplify IT operations utilizing automation and cloud-based management capabilities.

The worldwide SD-WAN market grew 45% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year, according to the Dell’Oro Group, recording record revenues of $2 billion.

“Enterprises are upgrading network infrastructures at accelerated rates compared to pre-pandemic times, and our research finds that the SD-WAN market is growing at strong double-digit rates in all regions of the world,” explains Shin Umeda, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “Because SD-WAN is software-based technology, the global supply chain disruptions have had less of an effect compared to hardware-based networking products.”

Demonstrating SD-WAN business value

Enterprises fast realize the importance of SD-WAN to handle increasingly distributed and complex network infrastructures and the trend for hybrid working. SD-WAN provides centralized management, flexibility, performance capabilities and security that work within an any-place, any-device, cloud-first business strategy.

According to IDC, there is little doubt that SD-WAN infrastructure is a compelling technology for any enterprise looking to improve WAN reliability, optimize network performance and user experiences for applications accessed via the WAN, or reduce costs or avoid future cost increases on WAN connectivity.

“As organizations look to support a hybrid workforce and cloud-native network architectures, SD-WAN infrastructure has become a critically important technology for enabling flexible, agile and optimized connectivity,” explains Ajeet Das, Research Director for Carrier Network Infrastructure at IDC. “Enterprises will continue to invest in SD-WAN capabilities for years to come as they look to enable secure connectivity for users to applications no matter where they’re hosted.”

Key components of an SD-WAN infrastructure include a centralized policy controller, automatic management of hybrid WAN connections, dynamic path selection of application traffic, and optional programmability, security, and analytics of wide-area network (WAN) traffic.

As SD-WAN adoption continues apace, here are five trends to watch in 2022 and how they can benefit your enterprise.

  1. Many vendors are increasingly using the convergence of SD-WAN and network security technologies as a way to differentiate their SD-WAN solutions, according to the Dell’Oro Group. Dubbed SASE (secure access service edge), the trend is gaining momentum among users. Gartner is going as far as predicting that by 2025, at least 60% of enterprises will have explicit strategies and timelines for SASE adoption encompassing user, branch and edge access, up from 10% in 2020.
  2. Enterprises with basic SD-WAN solutions now realize that reconfigurations can be time-consuming when there is an Internet connectivity issue. Self-healing and autonomous SD-WANs are becoming more prevalent, allowing enterprise IT teams to set up policies to enhance network reliability. SD-WAN can quickly identify an alternative route and recover using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms that monitor traffic if a data transport method fails.
  3. 5G is becoming a backup connectivity solution for SD-WAN, according to IDC. Increasingly, 5G cellular networks are becoming useful WAN links that can be utilized for SD-WAN deployment. As well as performance benefits versus 4G, the ease of setting up a cellular connection to new branch locations is becoming pivotal in choosing wireless connectivity for an SD-WAN solution, according to the analyst firm.
  4. SD-WAN managed services are growing fast and gaining traction among enterprises as an alternative to legacy network services. Managed solutions are helping enterprises deal with the complexities of SD-WAN as well as overcoming challenges such as upgrading software licenses.
  5. SD-WAN multicloud is continuing to garner appeal among enterprises. SD-WAN provides enterprises with a virtual WAN architecture that allows using a combination of data transport services such as MPLS and broadband Internet services. SD-WAN multicloud further extends this by offering direct connectivity to public and private cloud providers. Benefits include optimized application intelligence, visibility and control.

The future is SD-WAN

The SD-WAN vista is transforming fast. Once an enterprise has deployed SD-WAN, there is no shortage of additional enhancements around security and efficiencies, for example, to provide a competitive edge.

Enterprises that haven’t made a move to SD-WAN will need to put it on their roadmap or suffer a dent in their bottom lines. As Jan Hein Bakkers, Senior Research Director at IDC explains: “A successful path to the future enterprise will require WAN transformation. SD-WAN will be at the heart of this transformation.

To learn more about SD-WAN technology and find out how you can start your journey towards a software-defined environment, download our e-book here.