SD-WAN: What's in a number?


25 August 2016

There’s been a lot of numbers passed around when it comes to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs). IDC predicts the market will reach $6 billion by 2020. Gartner suggests 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed an SD-WAN by 2019.

The SD-WAN vendor landscape is heating up and everyone has their own projections of the TAM (Total Addressable Market). And we recently published our own numbers, announcing the addition of 100 new, paying enterprise customers who have selected and deployed our Unity EdgeConnect WAN solution.

We also collaborated with IDG Connect on a survey where we simply asked 160 mid-market and enterprise companies what they were thinking about when it comes to SD-WANs just to understand how companies perceive the SD-WAN opportunity. The survey results are available here, but here are our thoughts from it.

Based on our own customer numbers, we know SD-WAN is a hyper growth market. Kingston Technology, Interroll and Service King Collision Repair Centers are a just few of our new customers successfully deploying our SD-WAN solutions. But when you hear that 92 percent of companies surveyed have plans to implement SD-WAN in the next twelve months, it hits home. Respondents are not simply saying they’re going to make broadband an active link, they’re saying their WAN will be based on broadband. That means reliance on costly MPLS links will diminish – maybe not replaced entirely, but will quickly wane. It’s pretty aggressive to consider that in a year’s time broadband will become the preferred source of connectivity.

The same 92 percent plan to make the WAN broadband-based, but only if security and reliability concerns are addressed. More than half of the respondents claim security (68%) and reliability (53%) are holding them back from fully embracing Internet connectivity. These are key consideration factors for enterprises and service providers when evaluating SD-WAN vendors and offerings.

Established and emerging SD-WAN vendors claim to enable companies to leverage multiple sources of connectivity for end-users. But to truly deliver on the promise of SD-WAN, solutions must have the capability to segment applications via virtual WANs, much the way it’s done in the data center. That’s why the concept of an overlay with business intent policies is critical to success. Yes, encryption is important, but micro-segmentation of the WAN is what will really enforce new levels of security and make an SD-WAN with broadband viable.

And these overlays will enable IT organizations to deliver varying priority and quality of service levels across the application mix. Nobody wants web surfing traffic to compromise VoIP or other business-critical apps.

Finally, even with all the discussion about augmenting or replacing MPLS with broadband, 83 percent of respondents said they would consider outsourcing their WAN to a managed service provider. This is why it’s critical for service providers to offer an SD-WAN solution in their services portfolio.


John Vincenzo is Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, Silver Peak