How should SD-WAN adapt to deal with long term challenges?

By Mark Fox, CEO of NetEvents

It wouldn’t be pointing out anything new to say that SD-WAN came of age during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was already a fairly well established product category in the WAN market before anybody had heard of coronavirus. But by mid-2020 it had moved on from the network technology that people liked to talk about to become everybody’s first choice for a safe and secure way to keep employees working and productive at home.


Although it is way too early to declare the pandemic over, network managers are already looking to what lies beyond it. SD-WAN has filled their need for an emergency quick fix, but now they want to see what else it can do besides provide a stop gap. Where might it evolve next to help enterprises get back to growth in the post-pandemic world? How much further does it have to go, or does it already have one foot in the past? If not SD-WAN, then what is the software-driven digital technology that will power the connectivity of the future?


SD-WAN is popular because it provides a great way to support a cloud deployment at a modest cost and with minimal complexity. The SD-WAN of tomorrow will need to carry on doing this, but also have more focus on two things – delivering an optimal user experience and affording protection against the tidal wave of cyber threats that is currently overhanging the WAN.


What has been true of SD-WAN in the past may well be true of where it goes next – namely that not all SD-WAN solutions are the same. The somewhat complex and fragmented market for SD-WAN solutions may have consolidated around fewer players, but it is still a hard one to navigate. For the unwary it is a matter of spotting the strengths of the different offers on the market and aligning them with their business needs. If security is and will remain your top priority, then you need your SD-WAN supplier to have security in their DNA. That’s whether you plan to integrate your own choice of SD-WAN package into your network or pay for it as a managed service. If you want your SD-WAN to provide the smoothest possible experience for your employees, then that means looking for a solution that prioritises that.


There are other goodies that tomorrow’s SD-WAN really ought to have. It should be backed by a rich API ecosystem in the form of developers who can adapt a basic framework to specific needs. A mature SD-WAN offer will also have superb manageability, offering the network manager the ‘single pane of glass’ that they need. It almost goes without saying that it needs to be flexible too. In an age of hybrid work, edge compute and IoT, there is a hugely increased range of endpoints that SD-WAN must embrace. Few of these would have been anticipated when the technology was initially codified seven or so years ago, so you need to be looking for clear evidence that your SD-WAN choice has been adapted to deal with today’s new challenges and whatever might be coming towards us over the hill.


Our 7 July New Directions for SD-WAN inter@ctive event will hugely expand your thinking on this topic, and should not be missed:


Led by Scott Raynovich, Founder and Principal Analyst, Futuriom, it will also feature leading industry spokespeople including technologists and organisations with practical experience of deploying this technology:





The Health Service Executive (HSE)



Further reading on SD-WAN research:


Dell’Oro Group




Vertical Systems


451 Research




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