SD-WAN supplier Silver Peak has racked up over 600 enterprise production customers -- triple its customer count as of October 2016 -- despite an increasingly competitive SD-WAN marketplace.
Silver Peak Systems Inc. and the nearly 30 other SD-WAN vendors are facing a market "shake out" as what was a nascent market earlier this year is already facing consolidation, says Brad Casemore, research director of data center networks for IDC. Although VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) announced plans to acquire VeloCloud Networks Inc. last month, and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) acquired Viptela earlier this fall, Casemore says future consolidation won't necessarily come from more acquisitions even if it does lead to a reduction in the total number of vendors. Reviewing a list of 30 vendors isn't realistic for customers interested in deploying SD-WAN, says Casemore.
"What you're seeing Silver Peak do with this announcement -- which really attests to the fact that they've built up a customer base in the SD-WAN space -- is absolutely necessary in light of what we're seeing in the marketplace because we're seeing these acquisition announcements."
Casemore says SD-WAN suppliers like Silver Peak and Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD) were already established in the WAN optimization space, which gives them a leg up on SD-WAN startups.
David Hughes, founder and CEO of Silver Peak, says that 2018 will be a significant year in the SD-WAN market as more organizations' routers reach the end of their lives and as more enterprises seek a cloud-first WAN architecture. (See Silver Peak Surpasses 600 SD-WAN Customer Deployments Worldwide .)
"2018 is going to be a big year for SD-WAN, driven by companies realizing that they need a cloud-first WAN architecture and that their classic, traditional MPLS-centered network is going to need to be upgraded," he adds.
IMMI, a midsized manufacturer of safety equipment based in Indiana, selected Silver Peak from a shortlist of five vendors and is in the midst of deploying its SD-WAN technology to its five additional international locations.
Tom Braden, VP of Enterprise Technology for IMMI, says his team started reviewing SD-WAN vendors a year ago as the company's Cisco routers were nearing end-of-life. Braden says replacing the routers with Silver Peak's SD-WAN appliances isn't much more expensive than if IMMI had decided to replace the Cisco equipment and means he doesn't have to hire "Cisco command line interface gurus to keep it all running." Braden says IMMI needed networking devices that would accept two broadband connections, or MPLS and broadband, and be able to utilize both connections intelligently and effortlessly.
"The ability to shape that traffic based on the business intent is huge for us," says Braden. "Before we just had no way of separating out the trivial traffic from the business critical … I want to spend time worrying about other things besides just keeping my locations connected. This day and age, in the 21st century, I shouldn't have to worry about that."
Heading into 2018, the SD-WAN market will be driven by a move toward intelligent automation of WAN architectures and operations, says IDC analyst Casemore. He explains that moving forward, SD-WAN vendors will need to differentiate by utilizing built-in intelligence to automate further, leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence, and improve application availability and security.
Last week, VeloCloud announced its focus on "Outcome-Driven Networking," which is an effort to increase self-learning, automation and analytics in its SD-WAN platform. Hughes says Silver Peak often refers to SD-WAN as the "self-driving WAN," and says leveraging automation in SD-WAN is a boon to customers. (See Intent vs. Outcome: VeloCloud's Take on the Race to Automate .)
"You want to capture the intent of the customer, what they're trying to achieve at a high-level -- what the network is trying to do," says Silver Peak's Hughes. "Our orchestration uses automation, machine learning and AI to just make that happen without individual engineers having to worry about devices."
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading