SD-WAN interest grows as enterprises become more cloud-ready, research finds

As enterprises are embracing the cloud, SD-WAN is more likely to be on the table for their technological roadmaps.

This is the primary finding from a survey conducted by analyst firm IHS Markit. The WAN Strategies North America study found almost three quarters (74%) of organisations polled conducted SD-WAN lab trials in 2017, with many of these moving into production trials and, eventually, live production, this year.

Investments in wide area networks more generally continue undimmed, with the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), company and traffic growth, and greater network control all cited. WAN bandwidth usage is expected to grow over 20% each year according to respondents, while total WAN expenditures rose almost 20%, to $300,000 per respondent, last year.

“As companies shift a greater portion of their IT infrastructure into the cloud and expand their physical presence to go after new markets or be closer to customers and partners, the need for reliable, secure and high-performance WAN and internet connectivity has never been greater,” said Matthias Machowinski, IHS Markit enterprise networks senior research director in a statement.

“However, companies don’t have unlimited budgets to fund growing WAN bandwidth consumption, which is why a majority are planning to deploy software-defined WAN in the next three years, to better control how their WANs are used,” Machowinski added.

The rise of SD-WAN has certainly been noted among industry watchers. Writing for this publication in February, Gayle Levin, director of solutions marketing at Riverbed Technologies, discussed the key steps and benefits of software-defined WAN in a cloud-first strategy.

“At the end of the day, cloud-first strategies are designed to provide the best possible user experience. The network is of limited value if the user experience is poor or inconsistent,” wrote Levin. “Effective SD-WAN tools provide deep visibility into application performance, network flows, congested areas, and which users devices are connected to the network, enabling IT to effectively deploy and manage their applications and the underlying infrastructure.

“Whether using leading IaaS offerings or something from the vast set of SaaS applications, software-defined WANs are essential to corporate agility and security,” Levin added. “Optimising applications by rapidly establishing and tearing down connections simply cannot be done without centralised network management and orchestration.

“Cloud first needs cloud networking.”

Find out more about the IHS Markit report here (client access).