Gartner: SD-WAN, SASE biggest drivers of WAN edge infrastructure

The past several years have seen a large-scale shift from traditional MPLS-based customer edge routers to SD-WAN technology, according to Gartner’s 2021 Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure.  

Overall spending on WAN edge will grow by 2.6% per year through 2025, according to the report. The increased sales of WAN edge technology in general is driven by SD-WAN equipment designed to support work-from-home and in-office environments are slightly dampened by the fact that sales of traditional branch office routers are sharply down as a consequence, Gartner says. 

As the world shifts from working from home to working from anywhere, companies have begun to shift away from the VPN as the main tool for keeping remote workers secure, and towards more-fully featured SD-WAN technologies, with the idea of eventually implementing zero-trust network access for maximal security, Gartner’s report noted.

More Magic Quadrant leaders

The number of vendors Gartner has designated as Leaders in WAN-edge enfrastructure since 2019 has increased as more are judeged to have the requisite “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute”. Just two companies were rated “leaders” in 2019, compared to six in 2020 and 2021. The same six companies were ranked as leaders in the past two reports—Fortinet, VMware, Versa, Palo Alto Networks, Cisco and Silver Peak—although the Silver Peak was bought out last year by HPE/Aruba last year and has inherited the company’s spot in the new report. Gartner noted that in general leaders offer versatile products with rich features, and broad name recognition.

SASE architecture is also on the rise, according to Gartner, who predicted that more than 70% of SD-WAN customers would implement SASE by 2024, up 10% from last year’s estimate. The ability to deliver a competitive SASE service affected this year’s ratings, making up a part of vendors' innovation" score. If a vendor's offerings include the types of network security features that would qualify its WAN edge products as SASE, the innovation score are slightly higher.

"We see network and security decisions being made at the same time and more often with the same solution,” the latest report said. “This is largely driven by the move to distribute internet access to support cloud applications and change the security perimeter.”

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