RECAP: SD-WAN & the Disruption of Virtualization

Author: Linda Hull, Director, Telecom Council

sdwanThank you to Orange SV for hosting us in San Francisco, one of the few meetings each year that we bring to the city.

Michael Howard, IHS Markit, kicked off the meeting tracking the beginnings of SD-WAN as enterprises adopting OTT solutions to a future where expected revenue, just for equipment and software is predicted to hit $2.9B by 2021.  In their 2017 global survey of operators IHS Markit found that SD-WAN is considered the top service for new revenue (vCPE managed services coming a close second) with agility and security featuring as the most desired benefits within a framework of cost savings.  It’s interesting to note that SD-WAN didn’t even feature in their 2016 survey demonstrating the rapid growth in this market! Michael’s presentation prompted a lot of conversation in the room from established operators through to startups discussing pros and cons from SaaS services to public cloud deployments.

Christos Kolias, Orange SV, our Keynote speaker today, posed SD-WAN as ”a killer app for NFV and SDN”.  Routing traffic over disparate geographic regions, SD-WAN offers an overlay solution to existing networks, without restrictions of industry standards, while load-balancing traffic across multiple paths.  Benefits exist for Services Providers (eg, adding inexpensive capacity, remote deployment, meeting customer’s needs) and especially enterprise Subscribers (eg, easy to add new branch sites, application driven, load balancing) with cost savings for both.  Yes, there are deployment challenges notably, selecting the right technology and how to migrate from existing environment to an SD-WAN environment.  Christos reiterated IHS Markit’s research that the SD-WAN market is exploding, both with anticipated market size and the number of vendors joining the market.  Christos completed his presentation explaining Orange’s offering, going it alone unlike many operators who have chosen to partner with external SD-WAN providers, to be able to offer a highly customizable, fully managed, multivendor solution, at cost effective prices!  A key question from the floor following Christos’ presentation was how entrepreneurs might exploit the market.  Christos’ recommendation?  Given the SD-WAN space is congested, entrepreneurs should focus on software introducing new, desirable, customer services.

Discussing the Pros and Cons of SD-WAN, JL Valente of Cisco, Wayne Cheung of Juniper Networks, Donna Johnson of Citrix and Rob McBride of Versa Networks discussed the “hot button” of SD-WAN and how it fits into existing network solutions, and the benefits to both enterprises and service providers:

  • The role of  AI

SD-WAN means the network is defined and changed in software, which means it can be controlled by software.  AI can then actually affect changes so that the network becomes self-provisioning.

  • Benefits to Carriers

With the huge segmentation of the market, SD-WAN offers the ability to provision new services faster, fewer truck rolls, flexible service packages.

  • Challenges to Carriers

With everyone working from the same platform, differentiation becomes the challenge. And of course, the fact that Enterprise Customers may no longer rely just on one ISP for connectivity.

  • Challenges for Enterprise

Finding the “single throat to choke” and deciding whether to partner with multiple vendors or a single vendor offering managed services.  SD-WAN can simplify one area only to complicate operations in another area.

  • Bridging the gap between network and application

SD-WAN offers the customer visibility in their own networks.

  • DIY vs Managed Services

Early adopters had the DIY approach but as the technology develops, more enterprises are looking towards managed services.

  • What is SD-WAN

SD-WAN has become a term encompassing all networking functions potentially to confusing the market and delaying adoption.  By focusing on the outcome, with SD-WAN as all or part of the solution, enterprises can “integrations gone wrong”.

Moderator Derek Kerton wondered aloud if an incumbent or a vendor might want to offer a solution directly aimed at an enterprise pain point, and offer “One Throat To Choke As A Service” (OTTC-aaS), as a serious consideration.  Providing such a service would be costly, but would address a real need, and provide revenue from an ongoing service.

Following the panel, 6 startups took to the stage to pitch their solutions:

  • Anuta Networks– offering multi-vendor network orchestration
  • BigLeaf Networks– offering next-gen cloud first SD-WAN
  • FatPipe– offering software-defined networking for hybrid multi-line wide area networks
  • Mushroom Networks – offering software defined automation and intelligence
  • Silver Peak– connecting users to applications with the flexibility to use any combination of transport technologies without compromising network or application performance
  • Colony Networks– providing a cloud-based platform that powers solutions for mobile/fixed wi-fi deployments

As always, members can find today’s agenda, attendee list, presentations and photos from the day on the member library.  Elevator pitches from the startups and enterprises demoing at today’s meeting are below:

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