SD - WAN: What is it all about?

By Mark Benson, Esteem's Director of Marketing & Alliances

In the IT industry we love a new technology and it quickly becomes the hot topic every vendor is talking about. Right now, you only have to scroll down your LinkedIn feed to see what's trending and that is SD-WAN (well, apart from GDPR). So, let's have a look at the basics - what is SD-WAN and why should you be paying attention?

What does SD-WAN mean?

SD-WAN stands for Software-Defined Wide Area Networking, and is sometimes referred to as SDN-WAN or 'Software Defined Network - Wide Area Network'. SD-WAN is the specific application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology applied to WAN connections, which are used to connect large networks over large geographic distances. This can include branch offices and datacentres which all need to be connected.

So why should I be interested in SD-WAN?

Every organisation is looking to become more agile and flexible, and with the drive towards cloud technologies to provide such flexibility, many organisations are looking to replicate this ideology in their WAN. If we look at the legacy WANs we have in place, they are both expensive and made up of of proprietary hardware, like the mainframes of old.

There are not many companies I speak to who have had their IT budgets increased this year, so costs are important to control. In this, SD-WAN has two advantages; firstly, it utilises traditional internet connections instead of legacy hardware and secondly, it has the ability to remove some of the legacy switching hardware, thus moving management to the cloud and giving organisations the ability to flex on the fly.

How big is SD-WAN?

As I previously mentioned, SD-WAN is a hot topic at the moment. Recently Gartner reported that by the end of 2019, 30% of enterprises will have deployed the technology within branch offices. To put that into perspective, IDC predicts that the revenue generated from SD-WAN will exceed $6 billion by 2020. Not a small number!

So who provides SD-WAN?

The market, though relatively small, has around 30 players today, ranging from SD-WAN specific start-ups to the usual names of Cisco, HP and Juniper. There are also other household vendors such as Citrix, VMware and Riverbed with offerings in this space. As Gartner highlighted in a recent webinar, many of the traditional vendors are pivoting their technology to SD-WAN, so expect further players in the market over the next few years.

So if you are currently reviewing your network infrastructure, looking to add additional sites or make some changes to your underlying physical infrastructure, why not take a look at SD-WAN?

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