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SD-WAN Boom Coming in Next 2 Years

Iain Morris
12/7/2016
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ROME -- Executive Summit -- SD-WAN technology is either critical or important for telecom operators looking to automate their operations and reduce service costs, according to 84% of telco respondents to a new Heavy Reading survey.

Of the 121 survey participants, 62% rated SD-WANs as "important, but not critical," with another 22% saying the technology was a "critical" need.

The results -- unveiled at Light Reading's Executive Summit in Rome -- come amid a flurry of activity in the SD-WAN market, with a number of major telcos launching or announcing plans for SD-WAN services.

Meanwhile, the proliferation of vendors targeting the SD-WAN opportunity has triggered speculation that a wave of supplier consolidation may be just around the corner.

Despite the market momentum, wide-scale deployments of SD-WANs are still relatively limited, judging by Heavy Reading's survey results. Just 31% of respondents expect to achieve wide-scale deployments this year or next, with the remainder expecting these to happen from 2017 onwards.

Some two-thirds of survey participants reckon wide-scale rollouts will occur over the next 24 months.

Simplifying the introduction of new services and lowering service expenses emerged as the two most important business drivers of SD-WAN deployments. They were cited as "critical" factors by 52% and 48% of respondents, respectively.

By contrast, relatively few respondents expect SD-WAN technology to lead to improvements in application performance, with just 16% saying this was a critical factor.

About 43% of respondents "strongly agreed" there would have to be closer integration with policy control and integration if SD-WAN is to deliver the maximum benefits. And 51% of respondents "strongly agreed" that architecture would have to be purely software-based for companies to realize those benefits.


Want to know more about the emerging SDN market? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.


One concern that surfaced during the survey is that SD-WAN will have an impact on existing MPLS services. Although 32% of respondents reckon it could provide a spur to MPLS, and 28% believe it will have a "neutral impact," another 39% of survey participants are worried it will cannibalize MPLS business to at least some extent.

But the chief business barriers to SD-WAN deployment are the high cost of products and the lack of a solid business case, the research indicates.

Nearly a third of respondents see high costs as a "major barrier" and about 30% believe the lack of a solid business case is similarly problematic.

"Operators are committed to SD-WAN but there are clearly some challenges when it comes to motivating suppliers to give them the best prices," said Jim Hodges, a senior analyst for Heavy Reading , during a presentation earlier today.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/7/2016 | 8:26:52 PM
Re: SD-WAN Overview
Yeah, I do have come negative connotations to SD-WAN. I know that it is expensive; I know that it does not have properly defined use cases (yet). 

Those things concern me in a technology industry that has been pretty good at conveying why something might be important. 
Kelsey Ziser
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Kelsey Ziser,
User Rank: Blogger
12/7/2016 | 4:28:13 PM
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