5 SD-WAN Trends in 2018
With SD-WAN emerging as the next-generation edge solution for service providers and enterprises, where does it go from here?
Articles published December 20, 2017 by Bob Bally
2017 has been a watershed year for software-defined WANs (SD-WANs). In June, Gartner declared that SD-WANs were now going mainstream, a major shift from just three years earlier, when SD-WAN was still new enough to be affectionately described as "SDN Hits the WAN."
In that time, perceptions of SD-WAN's use cases really evolved. It went from being seen by some as a cost-effective, MacGyver-esque solution for simplifying complicated hub-and-spoke WANs, to a network Swiss Army knife capable of much more – e.g., reliably delivering complex traffic across hybrid cloud IT infrastructures, no matter the underlying transport or application architecture, and also ensuring Quality of Service (QoS) for critical public cloud applications.
With SD-WAN now emerging as the next-generation edge solution for service providers and enterprises, where does it go next? IDC estimated that the SD-WAN market would total $8 billion by 2021, up from only $225 million in 2015. To get there, continual innovation from SD-WAN providers is necessary in the coming year. Here's what to look out for emerging now and into 2018:
1. Total Disruption of the Edge-Router Orthodoxy
Greater adoption of SD-WAN should make a major dent in demand for edge routers next year. SD-WAN providers handled only two percent of WAN edge infrastructure refreshes in 2016, but are expected to perform more than half of them by 2020, according to Gartner.
The universal functionality of a contemporary SD-WAN allows for the consolidation of one or more traditional networking devices including router, firewall, and WAN optimization. The flexible subscriptions of SD-WAN can replace the costly upfront investment of edge routers. Likewise, the reliability, dynamic capacity, and Quality of Experience (QoE) offered by a failsafe SD-WAN can supersede the redundancy of a traditional WAN.
2. The Rapprochement of SD-WAN vs MPLS
SD-WAN vs. MPLS is a common frame when discussing the future of the WAN, but it is not the only way to understand ongoing WAN evolution. SD-WAN providers can also deploy their platforms as overlays in hybrid WAN models, thereby augmenting an existing investment in MPLS and legacy equipment and extending total cost of ownership (TCO) value.
Granted, MPLS is under immense pressure as demand for bandwidth and cloud services keep increasing, making broadband, cellular, and satellite into appealing (and less expensive) alternatives. But MPLS still has some advantages—such as last-mile management—that will secure its place in many WANs, including SD-WANs, in 2018 and beyond.
3. The Looming Blockchain Insurgency
The recent surge of interest in cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings has generated new speculation on the future of blockchain applications. Blockchain's potential is considerable, especially for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
For example, it may offer a way to mathematically "fingerprint" any information passed between apps in manufacturing and finance. This process could increase trust and data security, without exposing sensitive details along the way.
4. Tighter Security Integrations
As SD-WANs become central to the support of cloud and IoT applications, expect security integrations to be important differentiators between specific SD-WAN solutions. A secure tunnel using 128b or 256b AES encryption is created across all aggregated WAN paths on-demand, with no requirement to preconfigure anything.
5. Seamless WAN-edge to Cloud Transformation
Talari utilizes diverse links (e.g., DIA internet, broadband DSL, LTE and more), Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect, and Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute links to ensure the highest level of reliable and instantaneous failover for cloud-connected apps. Talari's WAN-to-cloud infrastructure enables "liquid" application flows that are unimpeded when heavy loss and jitter conditions occur, or even link failure. The highest QoS standards for WAN-edge to cloud resiliency, failover and redundancy will be required to attain service assurance targets.