Cisco talks 2017 SD-WAN predictions

Gartner says spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020


There certainly was a ton of hype in Software Defined-WAN arena in 2016 but to be fair there was a lot of actual deployment of technology and services as well.

In December Gartner wrote that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020. “While WAN architectures and technologies tend to evolve at a very slow pace — perhaps a new generation every 10 to 15 years — the disruptions caused by the transformation to digital business models are driving adoption of SD-WAN at a pace that is unheard of in wide-area networking,” Gartner wrote.

You can expect more of both in 2017 as exhibited by a Cisco blog post today on what the company feels will be the biggest trends in SD-WANs for 2017.

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Kiran Ghodgaonkar a marketing manager with Cisco’s enterprise routing and wan optimization group said that the branch and WAN are being defined by three trends that will help drive SD-WAN deployment: more mobile devices consuming rich data and video; the increased consumption of applications hosted in the cloud; and more IoT devices generating large amounts of information.

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With those observations as a backdrop, Ghodgaonkar predicted the following trends for SD-WANs in 2017:

  • Flexible hosting options: Cloud applications are changing how branches are designed. Branches are becoming like smaller campus networks connecting to public clouds, co-location facilities and the data center. SD-WAN will need to be flexible enough to be hosted in each of these locations in both hardware and software (virtualized) form factors without compromising on performance or management simplicity.
  • Improved security capabilities: SD-WAN has primarily been about securing connectivity between locations using a secure overlay. However, connecting branches directly to the Internet is critical for improving the performance of applications hosted in the cloud, but it can also expose your branch threats. Expect to see security become more integrated into branch platforms and complemented by cloud-based security and analytics for faster threat detection for web, SaaS and even encrypted traffic.
  • Virtualizing the branch: SD-WAN, Next Generation Firewall and WAN Optimization might still be required in the branch but enterprises want more flexibility to deploy and consume network functions as needed rather than all at once in a single platform. Expect to see more virtualization of traditional, physical network functions in the branch combined with broader automation capabilities that will reduce deployment time and increase agility.
  • Increased managed service offerings: The opportunity to provide enterprises with additional services like security, monitoring and application optimization, beyond basic connectivity is a compelling value proposition of SD-WAN for providers. Expect to see more service providers offer SD-WAN as a managed service as well as resellers, systems integrators and IT services companies who are looking to expand their service offerings by giving enterprises more choice.
  • End-to-end interoperability: Digital transformation will require network infrastructure to seamlessly connect any user to any application with the best user experience. This will require SD-WAN to work across the branch, campus, data center and cloud with open and programmable architectures for vendor interoperability. Expect to see greater interoperability across the enterprise with centralized management and monitoring that will ensure greater agility, uniform security and an overall better quality of experience for all users.

Those predictions follow other futurecasting from Cisco’s Jeff Reed, Senior Vice President Enterprise Infrastructure and Solutions Group who in December wrote a blog on the top 10 list for future 2017 network trends that included a couple WAN-related forecasts, including:

  • WAN redesign: Many organizations are moving applications to the cloud, and will be making significant changes to their WAN architecture. The traditional “demilitarized zones” at their own data centers will be augmented, or in some cases replaced, by points-of presence hosted in co-lo facilities. Meaning, there is no need to back-haul cloud-destined traffic to the data center and then to the internet.
  • NFV comes to the enterprise: Virtualization is hot right now – and with good cause. We’re going to see Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) spread from service providers to the enterprise – beginning in the branch. It will allow those leading-edge network teams with a multitude of branches to more easily provision, chain and scale branch network services.

Cisco’s Kailem Anderson, managing director of Cloud & Managed Services, observed in a blog post in August that some key reasons enterprises are looking to SD-WAN include:

  • Oversubscribed MPLS circuits in the enterprise: Estimates indicate that enterprise WAN utilization is typically in the 30% to 40% range, resulting in severe circuit wastage.
  • Traffic bursts: Short bursts of intense traffic can degrade the performance for everyone.
  • A silo-based approach to addressing WAN management: Solutions such as WAN optimization, application delivery controller, routers, and security devices are widely deployed today but only solve part of the problem.
  • Management silos: Historically, different groups perform all the management functions separately, such as visibility, performance, monitoring, optimization, and analytics. This can lead to long troubleshooting times and inefficient capacity planning.

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