In October 2016, AT&T announced its collaboration with VeloCloud to produce a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) product. The resulting AT&T SD-WAN portfolio includes a network-based solution combining hybrid networking with multiple types of network access. VeloCloud remains an essential component of the AT&T Integrated Cloud ecosystem focused on SD-WAN, even as AT&T aims to create its own solution and be a stronger force in the market.
“[The VeloCloud acquisition] is part of AT&T’s strategy to incorporate software-centric technologies into our integrated solutions that deliver flexibility and agility for enterprises on a global basis,” the VeloCloud SD-WAN release states. “These capabilities are changing how our customers manage their networks, letting them mix and match based on application, performance, and reliability needs. The first integrated offer was software-defined networking (SDN), second was network-function virtualization (NFV), and third is hybrid SD-WAN.”
According to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in a first-quarter 2017 earnings call, the company is working on its own, more far-reaching SD-WAN solution. AT&T wants to compete both up-market (large enterprises with many connectivity options), “where the traditional VPN capability will be an enduring capability,” and down-market (SMBs and branch offices of larger enterprises), where the company will need to “be prepared to compete with this kind of offering.”
AT&T Digs Deeper Into SD-WAN
AT&T Senior Vice President Rick Hubbard has said that the company’s goal is to achieve 75 percent virtualization by 2020 and help businesses meet their goals by making it easier for them to evolve their networks from hardware-centric to software-centric.”
In late 2017, AT&T plans to launch “a dynamic, network-based SD-WAN offering that offers an integrated customer experience and provides customers with flexibility, allowing a combination of SD-WAN sites with non-SD-WAN sites across a customer’s WAN,” according to Hubbard. “It will connect SDN capabilities in our network to customer-premises SDN appliances.” AT&T said it would deliver two types of SD-WAN: a network-based system and an on-premises-based system. The network-based solution will offer an integrated customer experience.
“We’re bringing more connectivity options together to deliver a better experience for customers,” Hubbard said. He does not envision the evolving solution as a one-size-fits-all product but rather a solution with which customers will be able to pick and choose which components to implement based on site-specific needs.
This solution’s VPN capabilities will continue to rely on VeloCloud software, and in fact AT&T plans to collaborate with other SD-WAN technology companies as part of its evolving ecosystem to support customers’ needs.
AT&T Joins a Wide SD-WAN Field
With its VeloCloud partnership and its intention to dig deeper into the SD-WAN market and create a solution of its own, AT&T joins a number of service providers in an already crowded market that is expected to reach $6 billion by 2020, according to IDC.