SD-WAN: The Future of Wide Area Networks

Analysing the trend in SD-WAN adoption, predicted growth and benefits for organisations implementing the technology.

SD-WAN is certainly proving to be a popular way for businesses across all industries to improve their enterprise networks. SD-WAN has seen huge growth in recent years with IDC, Futuriom and more analysts showing that an increasing number of businesses are looking to harness its unique benefits.

With SD-WAN now playing a significant role in the network market, IDC has estimated that it will hit 4.5 billion dollars in value by 2022. But this could actually be a more conservative estimate as other analysts estimate even more growth. In 2017 alone SD-WAN had an impressive adoption growth rate, increasing by a huge 83.3%.

The IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast for 2018–2022 predicted increasing growth and highlighted the growing adoption of SD-WAN as a surprise at the time. This is because SD-WAN is considered, by some, to still be in the early stages of development, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

But when we examine the benefits and savings that can be achieved by adopting SD-WAN it becomes clear why so many businesses are acting fast to deploy the technology. Technology is constantly evolving which means staying ahead of the curve is getting more difficult. In short, traditional Wide Area Networks (WAN) are getting more outdated day by day and they just can’t keep up with the advancements and unique properties and benefits of SD-WAN.

Traditional WAN vs SD-WAN

Traditional WAN and SD-WAN may fulfil similar roles but they are very different. Traditional WAN usually requires multiple different devices to work, this takes up more space and incurs more expensive bandwidth costs. WAN costs can also be impacted by private / MPLS circuits needed to ensure it can even be set-up.

It is also datacentre dependent and has no direct access to the cloud from branch offices. WAN also suffers from a more archaic hub and network design while also having a more unpredictable performance. You will also have to make manual changes at branches and the data centre to ensure a smooth application performance.

One of the driving forces behind the surge in SD-WAN is that traditional WAN systems are, in short, more complex and lack the virtual components of SD-WAN. The more complex your wide area network is the more likely it is things will go wrong.

Simplifying your wide area network is therefore always encouraged and SD-WAN allows businesses to do just this. While also harnessing many other benefits simply not available with a traditional WAN. But of course, the cost is going to be the overriding consideration for many businesses.

SD-WAN Cost Effectiveness

One of the more common myths about SD-WAN that is now thankfully being disproven is that it doesn’t offer much in the way of savings when compared to traditional WAN connectivity and other common alternatives like MPLS. However, when you really examine the potential savings you can see that this isn’t quite the truth.

SD-WAN does away with the complex infrastructure of traditional WAN but you don’t just save money there. SD-WAN offers many additional savings as well because you will get a more streamlined and efficient network.

Bandwidth costs will also be much lower with SD-WAN. It achieves this by augmenting existing connections, including where applicable MPLS, so as to optimise the network, in turn significantly lowering your bandwidth costs.

Research for Talari Networks estimates a potential 40% saving when compared to traditional WAN on average but that could be considered just the minimum! SD-WAN can also completely replace MPLS as well which means you can achieve even greater savings by abolishing the need for further costly connectivity.

Furthermore SD-WAN also brilliantly lends itself to a more business-friendly pay-as-you-go model. Which allows businesses to add branches and new offices as they go, so they can slowly expand the network as and when they need to.

The SD-WAN Market

There has been huge growth in the SD-WAN market with more and more vendors coming to the market. More than 60 new solutions were launched in 2018 alone and that rate has only been increasing. As SD-WAN becomes more popular the number of vendors will only grow higher.

This creates a more competitive environment between vendors as they aim to appeal to businesses. This competitor growth also ensures vendors are looking for new and innovative ways to improve the existing SD-WAN technology which is helping drive further developments and cost savings.

One example of this is the growing popularity of SD-WAN subscription models. These are designed to help business adopting SD-WAN get a quicker return on investment. The SD-WAN market is growing all the time and Global Market Insights have predicted that SD-WAN market share will grow to over 58% between 2019 – 2025, increasing its already impressive 49% market share that it held in 2018.

The Future of SD-WAN

So, what does the future hold for SD-WAN? Well as I’ am sure you can surmise it is set to have impressive growth in the next few years. The Technology Spotlight paper from IDC has already shown evidence for this.

Over 75% of the businesses surveyed said they either planned to deploy SD-WAN within the next 12 months or had already begun deployment. The software-defined wide-area network market itself is expected to grow to a huge $12.11 billion by 2023. And SD-WAN is steadily growing to be one of the main connectivity solutions available.

Different analysts and research papers are predicting different levels of growth but they all have one thing in common. And that is that SD-WAN is increasing in value and being adopted by more and more businesses. So, all indicators are suggesting that the total market value will only increase in the years to come.

So, more and more businesses are set to benefit from the savings and improved performance of SD-WAN in the coming years. With all the benefits it could bring it’s not hard to see why and with the potential for huge growth in the coming years adopting SD-WAN is sure to be even more popular in the near future.

SD-WAN improves many different areas of your business by improving security, streamlining your network, offering more versatility when it comes to connectivity and it gives you a more versatile cloud-centric platform to work from. Best of all, SD-WAN does all this and more while also reducing expenditure.

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