Gartner: SD-WAN Is Becoming Mainstream

June 07, 2017

By Paula Bernier - Executive Editor, TMC

SD-WAN has gained a lot of brain share, and many equipment companies and service providers have launched solutions based on the technology. And, in a recent column, Andrew Lerner of Gartner (News - Alert) says SD-WAN is now moving into the mainstream.

In fact, Lerner estimates there are now more than 6,000 paying SD-WAN customers and more than 4,000 production implementations. He adds that many Gartner clients are interested in SD-WAN. And he suggests that companies that are ready for a refresh of their WAN edge equipment should be as well.

“SD-WAN has several very real and tangible benefits (cost, performance, availability to name a few) with clear ROI when compared to alternatives,” he writes.

That said, he adds, SD-WAN also some downsides. For example, he says, some SD-WAN solutions lack such features as integrated 4G/LTE (News - Alert) capability, support for IPv6, T1/E1 interfaces, and WAN optimization. SD-WAN also can create challenges in managing heterogeneous connectivity, he says. It involves a fair amount of hardware despite having hardware in its name, he adds.

Also, he says, “many SD-WAN implementations have actually added technical debt to the branch. This is because many of the early adopters are not actually replacing an existing router (at least not yet) for a variety of reasons including aversion to risk, lack of functionality, etc…. Instead they are placing it behind and/or in conjunction with the existing router. I anticipate this will (and should) change soon.”

International Data Corp. forecasted that SD-WAN revenue would and will ramp strongly in 2016 and 2017 across a range of vertical markets. Gartner predicts that up to 30 percent of users will be managing their WAN through software within three years. And IDC (News - Alert) estimates that worldwide SD-WAN revenues will exceed $6 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 90 percent between 2015 and 2020.

“2017 is going to be a really big year for this space,” comments Nick Lippis, co-chairman and co-founder of the Open Networking User Group, which helped define SD-WAN and is playing a key role in moving this overlay network architecture forward.

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