When you work in the technology industry, you’re deluged with an endless list of acronyms and often indecipherable terms. That includes the occasional new term that makes you roll your eyes and think, “Oh brother, here’s another fad.”
SD-WAN certainly isn’t a passing trend. Far from it. Officially known as software-defined Wide Area Network, SD-WAN is gaining momentum. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, approximately 25% of IT departments will manage their WAN through software. Gartner also sees SD-WAN revenue headed toward a 59% growth rate each year, and ultimately a $1.3 billion market cap.
We know as well as anyone the hype that can surround burgeoning networking technologies. But as Gartner points out, SD-WAN adoption is soaring. That’s why we urge you to consider SD-WAN when upgrading your WAN equipment, signing a new carrier contract, or shifting to a cloud-based strategy.
But many IT leaders have to overcome some justified confusion about SD-WAN. Some still aren’t sure about where it fits in their network. When we speak to clients, we get them to think of SD-WAN simply in the same genre as SDN, or software-defined networking Although they’re both software-defined, IT teams deploy SDN for internal data centers, where as SD-WAN leverages software concepts for the WAN. Another way to conceive the relationship: While SDN is an architecture, SD-WAN is a technology.
From a technology standpoint, the actual building blocks that comprise SD-WAN have been around for some time. What is new, however, is the configuration and combination of aggregation technologies and central managing, as well as how a SD-WAN can share bandwidth across connection points. Accordingly, users see reduced costs, increased network performance, and demonstrated return on investment, which is just one reason why SD-WAN is gaining traction.
As much as we’re excited about SD-WAN, there are some issues to consider with SD-WAN deployments. For one, there can be functionality issues with some SD-WAN products. Obviously, as the category grows and more companies realize its benefits, vendors will enhance their products to meet client demands.
Another challenge is that although SD-WAN can help to reduce the cost of Internet transport, you might end up with problems regarding management of heterogeneous connectivity. And even though you can implement SD-WAN easier than traditional routers, some companies have increased their overall technical costs. In most cases, the extra costs are the result of not replacing an existing router.
Despite these challenges and technical hurdles, they are relatively minor in contrast to the long-term benefits that SD-WAN delivers. This is one technology whose promise matches what it actually delivers.