Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) are an attractive move for many service providers and enterprises because it allows for individual wide area network (WAN) applications to be installed as software and reduces the need for proprietary hardware, according to the Virtual Edge Expanding: The SD-WAN and vCPE Report, recently published by SDxCentral.
This is useful in the WAN because installing hardware in remote locations to reach customers can be expensive. Much of the SD-WAN movement is driven by the rapid adoption of the cloud because SD-WAN can be used to optimize and secure cloud connections and can connect users directly to cloud data centers they are accessing.
Both technologies have emerged as the leading use cases for software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). The report found that 78 percent of surveyed service providers and end users (enterprises) are using these technologies for deployment of their NFV platforms. However, the benefits of SD-WAN and vCPE vary among service providers and enterprise in terms of expectations and market drivers.
From the enterprise perspective, 67 percent of respondents said they expect a WAN system to include security; 63 percent said application prioritization; 57 percent said load balancing; and 53 percent said WAN optimization and network management and monitoring.
While there is some overlap, there also are clear differences between service providers and enterprises when looking at the benefits of SD-WAN. It seems that service providers’ primary concerns are revenue and cost-driven aspects, while enterprises are focused on the customer conveniences.
The primary driver of SD-WAN adoption among service providers is to create new services, which can drive new revenues. This is followed by lowering the operational and capital costs of WAN services, according to the report.
On the enterprise side, a majority of respondents said the main reasons for installing vCPE or SD-WAN were to provide greater service flexibility and application agility. Other reasons included centralized network management, better security controls, and reduced operational or management costs, the report says.
However, both groups agree that there is a need for more open, interoperable platforms for delivering SD-WAN and vCPE functions from the cloud, as well as more flexibility and agility.
At this point, the SD-WAN market is still young and ripe for improvement. This means there will need to be more development and interoperability testing to ensure that service provider and enterprise needs are met.