Software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) will play a key role in network evolution as organisations in EMEA try to cope with their cloud and digital transformation efforts, says analyst IDC, and will be worth $2.1bn by 2021. SD-WAN as a market sector was also identified as one of the fast growing sectors at the GTDC European Summit in Vienna this week.
SD-WANs build on hybrid network architectures that have been rising in popularity for years, but add centralised software-based intelligence that monitors, analyses and controls the network, and allow end users to mix and match different forms of connectivity - like MPLS (multi-protocol label switching), internet, Ethernet and wireless services.
Organisations are turning to SD-WANs to improve access to both the cloud and their corporate network. They can use the technology to assign and manage application policies across multiple sites and scale bandwidth up or down as required from a central point.
This flexible orchestration allows organisations to make their networks more agile, which means they can respond more quickly to changing business conditions, for instance, by easily connecting to a new business partner or opening a new remote site.
And crucially, SD-WANs make it possible for enterprises to build enterprise-grade networks over commodity broadband internet connections. In the past, companies had little choice other than to buy more expensive MPLS networks or leased lines from telecoms suppliers to link their offices and data centres.
The result is a hybrid network that provides an optimal combination of cost and performance for every single location and application, said IDC. The momentum behind SD-WAN is “strong”, said the analyst, with many start-up and established vendors and service providers “jumping on the bandwagon”. For end-user organisations the rationale for adoption is “compelling”, with IDC predicting revenues in EMEA to grow at an average pace of 92% per year up to 2021.
"SD-WANs have emerged as one of the hottest topics in the networking industry," said Jan Hein Bakkers, an analyst at IDC. "They will become one of the key building blocks of network evolution, driving the flexibility, manageability, scalability and cost effectiveness that organisations require in their balancing act between rapidly growing requirements and much flatter budgets."
About a year ago, rival analyst group Arcluster predicted that the European SD-WAN market would be worth €1.3 billion by 2021.
For the SD-WAN market to go forward in a big way though, the big telecoms firms will have to start “cannibalising” their profitable MPLS offerings and start pushing the benefits of SD-WAN more. But with smaller providers already making a dash for the SD-WAN market the bigger players are showing signs of following.