No Doubt About It: SD-WAN Products Are Popping Up Like Daisies

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Since 2012, the number of new products, product updates, and startups selling SD-WAN has been steadily increasing.
  • SD-WAN is attractive for both enterprises and service providers seeking to broaden their service portfolio, all of which will make for a very competitive field.

There’s nothing like a good visual to see if a technology is taking off. While putting together some data for a report on SD-WAN, I created a timeline of product launches and major product updates. To save space, I just listed the vendor, product, and version/feature. The items are ordered relative to each other, and I used dates from press releases or from conversations with the vendor. SD-WAN products create an over-the-top network between locations such as offices, data centers, and cloud services. SD-WAN relies on automation to create paths through the network based on policy requirements and definitions which may include path selection, application classification and management, and reporting. I’d even go so far as to say that any definition of SD-WAN requires encapsulation of traffic between sites as a fundamental component.

There are, of course, many ways to interconnect sites over the wide area. Contrast SD-WAN with how companies interconnect sites over the Internet today using static tunnels built from GRE, IPsec, PPTP, SSL, and so on, which are manually configured and maintained, using WAN services such as various private line services or dedicated links between sites (or, as if often the case, a combination of both ways).

SD-WAN timelineSource: Current Analysis

Give that definition, Talari’s Adaptive Private Networking fits the bill and is the earliest example of SD-WAN I could find. But, a lot has changed since 2007, and being first to market naturally doesn’t guarantee success.

As you can see, starting around 2013, the number of new products, new product versions, features, and startups offering SD-WAN products has been steadily increasing. Glue Networks, Nuage Networks, Viptela, VeloCloud, CloudGenix, and Versa are all new vendors, while Talari, Cisco, Silver Peak, and Certes have new product offerings, and there’s more to come. Riverbed announced its foray into SD-WAN with Project Tier, for example. I’m sure there are a few vendors I haven’t even heard of yet.

That’s a whole lot of new competition entering the market just in products. What’s not depicted in this infographic are the plans of service providers to offer managed SD-WAN service, often using the exact same products enterprises can acquire commercially. Verizon made a big announcement that it is using Cisco IWAN for its SD-WAN service, Vonage announced a service with VeloCloud, and there are a number of trials and proofs of concept underway with other service providers which will result in a number of service announcements in 2016.

There’s ample opportunity for SD-WAN vendors to go direct to customers or provide the underlying technology to service providers. I’m interested to see how this timeline changes in the coming years as the number of vendors continues to expand and then contracts due to M&A and outright attrition.

About Mike Fratto
Mike is a senior analyst on the Business Technology and Software team covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. He has extensive experience reviewing and writing about enterprise remote access, security, and network infrastructure products.

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