IT organizations are becoming increasingly attuned to the benefits of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN); the SD-WAN market is seeing a rapidly growing rate SD-WAN adoption. According to a July 2017 report from market-research firm IDC, SD-WAN adoption is seeing “remarkable growth” as companies seek to streamline their WAN infrastructure and evolve toward more cloud-based applications. The IDC report estimates that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.6% and reach $8.05 billion in 2021.
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is the application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology to WAN connections, which are used to connect enterprise networks—such as branch offices and data centers—over large geographic distances.
SD-WAN Market Factors
IDC attributes much of the growth in SD-WAN adoption to companies looking for ways to decrease the number of physical devices required to support applications as well as reduce the cost of maintaining technology deployed in remote locations. Big factors in this evolution of the SD-WAN market include digital transformation (including the cloud, network virtualization, big data, and mobility), the continuing rise of cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, and the broader acceptance of SDN.
“SD-WAN is not a solution in search of a problem,” said Rohit Mehra, vice president, Network Infrastructure at IDC. “Traditional WANs were not architected for the cloud and are also poorly suited to the security requirements associated with distributed and cloud-based applications. And, while hybrid WAN emerged to meet some of these next-generation connectivity challenges, SD-WAN builds on hybrid WAN to offer a more complete solution.”
SD-WAN Adoption Rate
Experts expect significant growth in the SD-WAN market over the next several years. In late 2015, Gartner predicted that 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN technology in their branches by the end of 2019, and that number should grow to 50 percent in the next few years. Gartner notes that “the market is evolving quickly with multiple vendors entering the market, including large networking vendors, focused WAN specialists and startups.”
A decided benefit of SD-WAN, according to Gartner, is that it essentially wraps existing technologies such as encryption, path control, overlay networks and subscription-based pricing together, and presents them to enterprises as a new integrated offering—thereby increasing SD-WAN adoption in the SD-WAN market through familiarity.