Orange's John Isch: Crowded SD-WAN Market Challenges Telcos

Big vendors' acquisition of SD-WAN specialists mean service provider and vendor interests are often at odds, says Orange Business Services' John Isch.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

September 27, 2019

3 Min Read
Orange's John Isch: Crowded SD-WAN Market Challenges Telcos

The SD-WAN market's failure to consolidate has made it harder for telcos looking to provide SD-WAN services, according to Orange Business Services' John Isch.

Speaking at the Light Reading Network Virtualization & SDN Americas conference in Dallas last week, Isch said he initially expected consolidation in the SD-WAN market, but it has remained crowded. Smaller SD-WAN players are not being acquired by larger ones; instead the sector has witnessed horizontal integration -- Cisco acquiring Viptela, VMware buying VeloCloud and Oracle scooping up Talari, for example.

That creates different interests between the vendors and service providers, said Isch, who is practice director at the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services.

"If you pick on one of these providers, their interest isn't to provide an open solution that can integrate with other providers," Isch said. An integrated vendor wants to be a one-stop shop.

"I would much rather have SD-WAN as a unique solution that I can integrate into a uCPE and integrate into a virtualization environment on a best-of-breed basis," Isch said.

But that's not what happened.

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Every vendor wants to sell the whole stack, but service providers want disaggregation, said Rami Yaron, MEF co-chair, marketing and education committee, who spoke on a panel with Isch and other service providers and vendor representatives.

"[Service providers] want bits and pieces from every different vendor. This causes issues," Yaron said.

Service providers want disaggregation, but don't understand how much work is involved in integrating disaggregated elements, Yaron said.

Scott Irwin, senior director of SD-WAN for Frontier Communications, agreed. With 40 SD-WAN vendors competing in the marketplace, making the right choice is difficult. And service providers and enterprises are juggling a lot -- not just SD-WAN choices, but also choosing among options for security, managed WiFi, other OTT services, moving to the cloud, and more.

"How do I make a decision not knowing what tomorrow is, and who survives?" said Orange's Isch.

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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