Demand for SD-WAN holds up as enterprises look to protect home workers

Demand for SD-WAN solutions will remain strong in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic as enterprises seek to accelerate their migration away from expensive legacy alternatives, a major analyst firm has predicted.

Steve Schuchart, Principal Analyst, Enterprise Networking, at GlobalData said that enterprises are valuing SD-WAN for its cost saving potential, and also for its ability to secure workloads as employees are forced to work remotely.

“The SD-WAN market has been on a steep rise with the operational simplicity, agility, and cost savings of the solutions making them a no-brainer for customers with traditional WAN routing,” he commented. “When SD-WAN first surfaced, the selling point was the decommissioning of expensive MPLS circuits and replacing them with generalized internet connectivity without loss of link integrity.”

GlobalData’s SD-WAN migration predictions from last year have been revised, said Schuchart: “We thought demand for MPLS would plateau and slowly begin to shrink as customers’ familiarity and confidence in their SD-WAN solution increased,” he explained. “But with the myriad of changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have adjusted our predictions. First, SD-WAN solutions will continue to attract corporate buyers, but a little slower. Second, the decline of MPLS will vastly accelerate. Lastly, security, particularly when it comes to serving the home-worker, will still be a compelling argument.”

He said the mass movement of office workers to the home environment is seeing increased use of SD-WAN as a support mechanism: “Cloud SD-WAN instances can help direct home workers to cloud-based applications and help monitor performance,” he added. “For particularly important personnel, SD-WAN may also be used locally, to balance two home internet connections and therefore ensure reliability for those employees.”

GlobalData’s findings are backed by others in the analyst community. Jason Bloomberg, founder of analyst firm Intellyx, said that the twin concerns of home working employees are security and quality of connectivity service, and that neither is adequately addressed by legacy solutions.

“VPN’s most significant shortcoming is that it doesn’t provide adequate QoS controls,” he said in a recent blog.

He identified SD-WAN products as useful for supporting remote office networks, pointing out that banks already use SD-WANs to connect their branches to their headquarters, and large retailers to their stores.

He name-checked vendor Silver Peak as offering products that are well-suited for home working scenarios. Silver Peak offers solutions such as its Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform and its Ultra-Small and Extra-Small appliances.

In other news, Nuage Networks, part of Nokia, has just innovated with the industry’s first SD-WAN solution for desktop, mobile and IoT devices, partnering with Asavie. The new solution will allow mobile users to connect to enterprise clouds and applications via SD-WAN, without the hassle of using VPN clients. This, said Nuage, will be essential as remote working rapidly increases.

Mike Wood, CMO with Versa Networks, a specialist in secure SD-WAN has argued that the technology is vital to enterprises in other ways at an economically sensitive time: “Protecting corporate assets, information security, and network access are of paramount importance while maintaining connectivity to both cloud services and corporate data centre applications, services, and data. Secure SD-WAN enables employees, staff, and partners to access the right information securely with optimized performance while preventing non-corporate assets and users from accessing these protected resources.”

A number of important acquisitions have reshaped the SD-WAN market in recent months. VeloCloud, now owned by VMware, focusses its SD-WAN offer around supporting application growth, network agility and simplified branch implementations while delivering access to cloud data centres and applications. Cybersecurity specialist Palo Alto Networks has just completed its acquisition of SD-WAN provider CloudGenix, strengthening its secure access service edge (SASE) platform. And with its acquisition of Viptela, Cisco is extending intent-based networking across the branch, WAN, and cloud.


Please refer to the following links for further details of companies mentioned in this story:

Other useful sources of information on the SD-WAN sector:


Scott Raynovich, Founder of analyst firm Futuriom, is due to release new market data on the SD-WAN market later this month and will be presenting and discussing some of his findings and views with other SD-WAN industry experts on June 9 in the NetEvents inter@ctive broadcast SD-WAN Growth 2020.

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