Software-defined networking wide area networks (SD-WAN) connectivity can be delivered to customers as a managed service using software orchestration and is called SD-WAN as a Service.
SD-WAN is appealing because it is a replacement for traditional WAN routers and supports transport technologies like MPLS, Internet, and LTE. SD-WAN also allows load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections making it more efficient.
According to Gartner, spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020.
For service providers, SD-WAN as a Service is viewed a new revenue opportunity because they can manage WAN services for enterprise businesses. Likewise, SD-WAN as a Service can be appealing to end users and enterprises that don’t want to manage the WAN network or applications, and would prefer to outsource these services to a service provider.
Service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Windstream, Singtel, and others are offering SD-WAN as a Service. In January 2017 Windstream said it had selected VeloCloud as the vendor for its SD-WAN technology. The company said that its service converges voice, data, and video applications on the same IP backbone. In addition, its business policies dynamically prioritize traffic to optimize bandwidth.
Meanwhile AT&T, also a VeloCloud customer, offers an SD-WAN as a Service product. AT&T is offering both a network-based system for customers that already use AT&T MPLS connections, as well as an on-premises SD-WAN service where customers don’t necessarily need an AT&T MPLS connection. The on-premises SD-WAN could be a way for AT&T to expand its footprint out of its own regions.
SD-WAN as a Service vs. Managed SD-WAN
SD-WAN as a Service is also often referred to as “managed SD-WAN,” because a customer typically pays a service provider a fee to install and deliver connectivity, as well as any applications, monitoring, and maintenance services.
For service providers, managed SD-WAN is a chance for them to offer value-added services such as security and applications performance enhancement. These value-added services often come with service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee minimum service levels.
SD-WAN as a Service Benefits
One of the main benefits that most enterprises deploy SD-WAN is that it can reduce their WAN costs by up to 90 percent because it supplements or replaces dedicated private WAN networks, which usually are MPLS, with regular broadband connectivity.
That same cost-benefit can be applied to SD-WAN as a Service. By using this, enterprises can get the flexibility and cost savings of SD-WAN and at the same time minimize the headache of managing the infrastructure and connectivity.