Increasing cloud adoption as well as improved network security, visibility and manageability are driving enterprise software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) deployments at a breakneck pace.
According to research from IDC, software- and infrastructure-as-a-service (SaaS and IaaS) offerings in particular have been driving SD-WAN implementations in the past year, said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC.
For example, IDC says that its recent surveys of customers show that 95 per cent will be using SD-WAN technology within two years, and that 42 per cent have already deployed it. IDC also says the SD-WAN infrastructure market will hit $4.5 billion by 2022, growing at a more than 40 per cent yearly clip between now and then.
“The growth of SD-WAN is a broad-based trend that is driven largely by the enterprise desire to optimise cloud connectivity for remote sites,” Mehra said.
Indeed the growth of multi-cloud networking is prompting many businesses to re-tool their networks in favour of SD-WAN technology, Cisco wrote recently.
SD-WAN is critical for businesses adopting cloud services, acting as a connective tissue between the campus, branch, Internet of Things (IoT), data centre and cloud. The company said surveys show Cisco customers have, on average, 30 paid SaaS applications each. And that they are actually using many more – over 100 in several cases, the company said.
Part of this trend is driven by the relationships that networking vendors such as Cisco, VMware, Juniper, Arista and others have been building with the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Anthos and IBM RedHat.
An indicator of the growing importance of the SD-WAN and multi-cloud relationship came last December when AWS announced key services for its cloud offering that included new integration technologies such as AWS Transit Gateway, which lets customers connect their Amazon Virtual Private Clouds and their on-premises networks to a single gateway.
Aruba, Aviatrix Cisco, Citrix Systems, Silver Peak and Versa already announced support for the technology which promises to simplify and enhance the performance of SD-WAN integration with AWS cloud resources.
Going forward the addition of features such as cloud-based application insights and performance monitoring will be a key part of SD-WAN rollouts, Mehra said.
While the SD-WAN and cloud relationship is growing, so, too, is the need for integrated security features.
“The way SD-WAN offerings integrate security is so much better than traditional ways of securing WAN traffic which usually involved separate packages and services," Mehra said.
"SD-WAN is a much more agile security environment.” Security, analytics and WAN optimisation are viewed as top SD-WAN component, with integrated security being the top requirement for next-generation SD-WAN solutions, Mehra said.
Increasingly, enterprises will look less at point SD-WAN solutions and instead will favour platforms that solve a wider range of network management and security needs, Mehra said.
They will look for SD-WAN platforms that integrate with other aspects of their IT infrastructure including corporate data-center networks, enterprise campus LANs, or public-cloud resources, he said. They will look for security services to be baked in, as well as support for a variety of additional functions such as visibility, analytics, and unified communications, he said.
“As customers continue to integrate their infrastructure components with software they can do things like implement consistent management and security policies based on user, device or application requirements across their LANs and WANs and ultimately achieve a better overall application experience,” Mehra said.
An emerging trend is the need for SD-WAN packages to support SD-branch technology. More than 70 per cent of IDC's surveyed customers expect to use SD-Branch within next year, Mehra said. In recent weeks Juniper and Aruba have enhanced SD-Branch offerings, a trend that is expected to continue this year.
SD-Branch builds on the concepts and support of SD-WAN but is more specific to the networking and management needs of LANs in the branch. Going forward, how SD-Branch integrates other technologies such as analytics, voice, unified communications and video will be key drivers of that technology.