Continuing its pursuit of large and lucrative business services customers, Comcast is announcing the launch of a new "carrier-grade" SD-WAN solution today aimed at the midsize and large enterprise markets. While still in beta, the SD-WAN solution, delivered through a partnership with Versa Networks, is the first on offer from a cable provider. (See Comcast Begins SD-WAN Beta.)
For context, Gartner predicts that the software-defined WAN market will reach $1.24 billion in value by 2020. Versa Networks is an active player in the space, recently upgrading its Versa Cloud IP Platform to include the ability to host third-party virtual network functions (VNFs) for smoother migration to an SD-WAN environment. (See Versa Branches Out SD-WAN Offering.)
In Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s case, SD-WAN is a logical extension of the company's strategy to target national and multi-region enterprises. The cable company has ramped up its annual run rate in commercial services to $6 billion a year, but the bulk of that business is still in the small to midsize market. Comcast is aiming to expand in the enterprise sector both with its wide broadband footprint and with new offerings like SD-WAN and managed WiFi services. (See Comcast Reaches for Xfinity & Beyond.)
Some of Comcast's notable enterprise customers to date include retail chain Wawa and the Denver Broncos National Football League team. Other critical verticals for the company include healthcare, education and hospitality, all of which have customer targets operating across multiple branch locations.
From a sales and marketing perspective, Comcast is pairing its SD-WAN offering with new gigabit Internet services for business customers. Comcast has offered fiber-based Ethernet services that deliver gigabit and multi-gigabit speeds to the business community for some time, but only recently has the company introduced gigabit broadband service over its hybrid fiber-coaxial network infrastructure for those same customers. The DOCSIS 3.1-powered "Business Internet 1 Gig" offering is still rolling out market by market, but eventually Comcast plans to make it available throughout its entire cable footprint. (See Comcast Launches DOCSIS 3.1 for Business Customers .)
As for the SD-WAN solution, Comcast says it will continue the beta trial through this summer, with a commercial launch expected later in the year. The move is a significant step forward in the enterprise cloud services sector; not only for Comcast, but for the entire cable industry, which regularly takes its cues from the market leader.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading