While much of the focus has been on the benefits of cloud services to the network, particularly Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), one knock-on impact is the increasing momentum of SD-WAN deployments.
For firms with widely-distributed workforces and assets that are seeking to transform digitally and do more sophisticated production tasks, the cloud is part of a journey. It is also leading to upgrade their MPLS networks and move to SD-WAN.
For many, the capabilities of legacy MPLS are simply not cutting it regarding what they now want to do. It is also proving to be an ill-fit for the other networking components they have put in place.
Also, big data analytics increase the strain on the network. To cope and support these applications, SD-WAN presents as an enabling and supporting technology, while reducing MPLS costs.
The forecasts from IDC underline the bullishness on SD-WAN.
According to the research firm, SD-WAN sales will grow at a 69% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), hitting USD 8.05 billion in 2021. Given that the SD-WAN market was only at USD 225 million in 2015, this is phenomenal growth.
The vendor market has had some WAN optimization players in recent years, and many of these are moving with the times to develop with SD-WAN offerings.
Silver Peak is one of these. It already has some proof points in its published case studies that illustrate some benefits.
The Swiss-based producer of internal logistics products Interroll, for example, needed a software-based solution for its WAN that could enable the sending of data in a secure and optimized way.
The company has 14 production facilities, 19 sales offices, and around 2,000 employees spread across the Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe.
The editing and moving of CAD files is an essential and daily task. But as the company grew, transferring large design files became increasingly impractical, demanding major increases in MPLS bandwidth (5X) and increasing costs by 30%.
Directing cloud traffic across the MPLS was eating up MPLS bandwidth and degrading performance. Words like agile and dynamic were not in common use.
SD-WAN made SaaS and CAD performance over the internet more cost-effective. It also offered significant productivity benefits. Users can now view, open, edit and share production tasks easily across the network.
It is all part of the rapid evolution of networks to becoming software-driven. Software-defined Networking (SDN) was initially targeted at data centers but is now increasingly becoming part of enterprise-level WAN.
For highly-centralized organizations in limited geographies, SD-WAN might not be the best fit. But for those with large distributed networks and need to share capabilities, it presents a nimble alternative.