The Young, Brash and Promising SD-WAN Sector

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

Software-Defined Networking and the Enterprise

As the name implies, software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs) use SDN techniques to perform a WAN’s task of creating a cohesive enterprise network no matter where the endpoints are situated.

Knowledgeable observers suggest that it’s going to be a hot area. A survey conducted at Light Reading’s ongoing Executive Summit in Rome found that 62 percent of 121 surveyed participants rate SD-WANs as “important, but not critical” to their companies. Twenty-two percent called them critical.

Thus, 111 out of 121 experts think it is a worthwhile technology. Reporter Iain Morris says that those results buttress what else is evident in the market: Several telcos have announced SD-WAN services and there is speculation that the large number of startups presages vendor consolidation. Such consolidation doesn’t happen in markets that are not on a roll.


One of those up and coming vendors is Mushroom Networks, which this week addressed what it sees as the year ahead in the SD Net category. The list, written by CEO Cahit Akin, addresses technical issues. Akin clearly sees SD-WAN as a technology that is far from fully matured.

Akin cites improvements and evolutions in such things as how SD-WANs fit in (i.e., development of interoperability with legacy systems), functionality (adding data plane to control plane capabilities), and easier access to virtual network functions (VNFs), among other fruitful areas of growth.

Another insight into the current and future status of SD-WANs – and one that doesn’t disagree with Light Readings’ take – was offered in a Network World report on a Gartner webinar held in mid-November. The takeaways offered by analyst Joe Skorupa, according to Steve Garson and David Greenfield, are that SD-WANs essentially blow the doors off traditional approaches and that though there are a lot of vendors, few are making money:

As with any young market, vendor sourcing can be an issue and that’s definitely true for SD-WANs. While there are more than 30 SD-WAN startups of one kind or another, not all of them are showing substantial sales. Skorupa did not identify specific vendors and market share, but he did say that of the estimated $130 million in sales during 2016, 50 percent of revenue is coming from just two startups.

It’s not all about startups. Established companies, such as ADVA, are getting into the SD-WAN act as well. Things look very good for the sector. Those interested, however, should be very careful about which vendor to choose both from the technological and financial perspectives.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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