SD-WAN: What’s in a Number?

There’s been a lot of numbers passed around when it comes to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). IDC predicts the market will reach $6 billion by 2020. Gartner suggests 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed an SD-WAN by 2019.

The SD-WAN vendor landscape is heating up and everyone has their own projections of the TAM. And we recently published our own numbers, announcing the addition of 100 new, paying enterprise customers who have selected our SD-WAN solution, EdgeConnect.

With all of these numbers out there, why would we collaborate with IDG Connect on a survey to generate even more numbers? When you think about it, most, if not all of the numbers to date have been collected with the idea of proving a point, or determining a measurement of a single idea. In this case, we simply asked mid-market and enterprise companies what they’re thinking about when it comes to SD-WANs. We didn’t know where it would lead or what the results would reveal. Nor did we have a point to prove. We just wanted to understand how companies perceive the SD-WAN opportunity.

Read the Full Survey

Let’s get right to the good stuff.

Based on our own customer numbers, we know SD-WAN is a hyper growth market, but when you hear that 92 percent of companies surveyed have plans to implement SD-WAN in the next twelve months, it hits home. Respondents are not simply saying they’re going to make broadband an active link, they’re saying their WAN will be based on broadband. That means reliance on costly MPLS links will diminish – maybe not replaced entirely, but will quickly wane. It’s pretty aggressive to consider that in a year’s time broadband will become the preferred source of connectivity.

The same 92 percent plan to make the WAN broadband-based, but only if security and reliability concerns are addressed. More than half of the respondents claim security (68%) and reliability (53%) are holding them back from fully embracing Internet connectivity. These are key consideration factors for enterprises and service providers when evaluating SD-WAN vendors and offerings.

Established and emerging SD-WAN vendors claim to enable companies to leverage multiple sources of connectivity for end-users. But to truly deliver on the promise of SD-WAN, solutions must have the capability to segment applications via virtual WANs, much the way it’s done in the data center. That’s why the concept of an overlay with business intent policies is critical to success. Yes, encryption is important, but micro-segmentation of the WAN is what will really enforce new levels of security and make an SD-WAN with broadband viable.

And these overlays will enable IT organizations to deliver varying priority and quality of service levels across the application mix. Nobody wants web surfing traffic to compromise VoIP or other business-critical apps.

Finally, even with all the discussion about augmenting or replacing MPLS with broadband, 83 percent of respondents said they would consider outsourcing their WAN to a managed service provider. It’s why it’s critical for service providers to offer an SD-WAN solution in their services portfolio.

So, what’s in a number? A lot. Sometimes you have to ask questions to understand what companies are thinking to validate the real opportunity. If you’re fortunate, the numbers align and underscore true market sentiment. And, that’s precisely what this survey has revealed – validating key assumptions, while providing some interesting A-ha’s along the way. We invite you to download and read the full survey by clicking here.