Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are an increasingly popular category of services built upon the software-defined network (SDN) concept. It’s a hot area because the advantages compared to traditional WANs are compelling. In other words, once it is proven that SD-WANs work reliably, they are odds-on favorites to become the dominant telecommunications platform for geographically diverse organizations.
Three service providers made SD-WAN news last week.
- China Telecom Global, the international subsidiary of China Telecom, will use Versa Networks’ SD-WAN and software-defined security platforms. ZDNet says that the company will deploy the technology in 15 hubs worldwide.
- Comcast Business announced its ActiveCore SDN platform and that an SD-WAN offering is the first product built upon the platform. Comcast said that the SD-WAN service is already being used by several business customers. Jim Ellis Automotive Group, which is based in Atlanta, was the only one named in the press release. It serves 15 locations and more than 1,000 employees across Georgia.
- In Australia, Optus Business announced the Optus Fusion SD-WAN. The service is based on Riverbed’s SteelConnect. The press release says that Optus Fusion can be configured as an over-the-top offering on any type of network connection or service providers’ network.
There are a tremendous number of vendors in the SD-WAN sector. That’s a function of both how young the sector is and the promise that tech investors and entrepreneurs see for the approach. CRN looks at a standard technology issue through the prism of SDN: Is it best to deploy platforms in which customized packages featuring preferred elements from several vendors are put together (the “best of breed” approach)? Or does it make more sense to go with integrated packages from a single vendor? As usual, there is no definitive answer. The best approach for one organization may not be good for another.
The SD-WAN category is clearly hot. At an investor conference last week, Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said that the company’s SD-WAN launch was the most successful he has experienced in his 20-year career. Windstream had its own offering before it Earthlink, which also offered SD-WANs. The deal closed in February. The two platforms are now integrated and represent 20 percent of Windstream’s enterprise sales, according to Telecompetitor.
SD-WANs are the earliest success story in the SDN universe. Simply, using software to create network overlays capable of easily crossing geographic and carrier boundaries in an efficient and cost-effective manner is very attractive to service providers to end users.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.