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SD-WAN Roundup: Market Saturation Opens the Door for Partner Opportunity

And we learn more about Zayo Group's SD-WAN.

James Anderson

January 10, 2018

7 Min Read
SDN

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James Anderson

**Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles about the state of SD-WAN, featuring perspectives from vendors and analysts. Check out our previous SD-WAN roundup featuring FatPipe Networks.**

If the software-defined wide area networking industry isn’t saturated yet, it’s perilously close.

More and more vendors are jumping into the fray with new products – like Aerohive‘s last month and Zayo‘s this month – presenting endless choices for customers that want to determine the next step for their networks.

Bill Kleyman, chief technology officer of MTM Technologies, spoke to Channel Partners about the plethora of vendors in SD-WAN. He speaks highly about offerings from Cisco and Citrix, both of which MTM has chosen as partners. But he says other competitors like Silver Peak, Aryaka, FatPipe Networks, Talari, Riverbed, Cradlepoint and Ecessa also have strong features. Up-and-comers like Nuage Networks, Mushroom Networks and Elfiq Networks deserve consideration, Kleyman says.

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MTM’s Bill Kleyman

And that’s not an exhaustive list of the promising SD-WAN vendors.

“I really do believe it’s saturated,” Kleyman said. “There [are] a lot of different kinds of vendors out there. Some of them are good; some of them are bad; some of them are only cloud-based.”

Talk of the crowded SD-WAN marketplace generally leads to M&A chatter in quick fashion. Although Kleyman doesn’t deny that some vendors will consolidate, he says market saturation has other interesting outcomes.

Vendors, customers and partners need to consider use cases more carefully. An SD-WAN company may claim that its technology is superior in all categories, but it will only succeed if it can identify and meet the specific needs of the customer. The customer has to realize that these solutions have pros and cons that may be amplified depending on the environment where they are deployed. And with so many vendors crowding the lane, partners may play an important role helping customers navigate their many options. The partner’s technological expertise and familiarity with vendors could help buyers make sense of the many sales pitches they receive. There is no shortage of choice for a customer that wants to upgrade to SD-WAN.

“[The saturation] is concerning for the vendors, because it will prolong the sales cycle and maybe convolute how products are being offered. Customers are going to potentially spend some more cycles of time and energy doing demos and PoCs (proofs of concept), for example,” Kleyman said. “The saturation of the market really is a challenge for both the consumer as well as the vendor. Because you have to try a lot harder to sell your product, and the enterprise customer has to take a lot of extra time to …

… actually review the product and take a look at it.”

Kleyman says SD-WAN is the answer to the question of how businesses can better control their internet services and WAN while saving money and time.

“When an organization gains control of [its] wide area network, they can all of a sudden make really some cool decisions. They can restructure the MPLS contract and their Ethernet services. They can opt for less-expensive carrier services to create redundancy for remote locations. They can control things like application-bonding to make sure it’s resilient and delivered much more quickly,” he said. “This kind of architecture is absolutely conducive to today’s industry. More bandwidth, more cloud, more users, more devices connecting, and simply more requests for wide area networking resources. Without this kind of technology, you’d see organizations continue to pay more and more dollars for an environment they have less and less control over.”

Zayo

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Zayo’s Mike Strople

A new vendor entered SD-WAN last week in the form of Zayo Group. The communications infrastructure provider announced an offering that expands its WAN portfolio. The company already provides in the areas of dark fiber, transport services and WAN, and that makes SD-WAN a “logical extension,” according to Michael Strople, president of Zayo Enterprise Networks.

Strople says hybrid WAN will be a main driver of SD-WAN adoption in the upcoming years. He says businesses want flexibility, choice and the ability to steer their traffic.

“The hybrid WAN is bridging disparate access types together. The straightforward example is: I might use a IP-VPN connection on a WAN today, but I might want to blend that together. So at each site I might use IP-VPN and marry that also with an internet WAN connection, and I could load-share those to increase my availability of redundancy, where I might want to put some traffic across only the IP-VPN and some traffic only across the internet connection and I might want to have diversity of providers,” Strople said.

Technology from Versa Networks is powering the offering, which comes in advanced and basic management options. Other providers may contribute to it in the future.

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Zayo’s Stephen Fisher

Stephen Fisher, chief technology officer of Zayo Enterprise Networks, illustrates two use cases for the SD-WAN. One is a business that has Zayo-connected fiber, many bandwidth requirements and offices in regions that require extended Type II services. Another is a an enterprise that allows its employees to watch multimedia such as Netflix during their breaks but needs to prioritize business-related communications over the Netflix traffic. The SD-WAN allows that prioritization.

“That may be the perfect example of a customer that has a classic IP-VPN, dedicated WAN and then a large amount of traffic that they want to send off to an internet directly and not consume the WAN traffic. They would have two uplinks – one an Internet uplink, one a WAN uplink – and they could direct traffic to one direction or the other for those specific applications and the bandwidth requirements of those applications,” Fisher said.

Fisher says he sees customers evolving their …

… expectations for SD-WAN. He says Zayo is seeing a “blend of requests”  that combine the overall idea of SD-WAN with many of its individual features, such as security, firewall and WAN optimization.

Strople says clients come in a mixed bag when it comes to how much they understand the technology. Many of them know that they need it but don’t yet know how they will use it.

“There are absolutely some customers who have done lots of research, understand exactly what SD-WAN is, have thought about how they’ve got a use case that would specifically require the functions of an SD-WAN offer, and say, ‘Look, this is what I’m trying to do. Do you have something that does this?’ And we say, ‘Yes, our SD-WAN offer matches what you want to do.’ There [are] also a very large number of customers that say, ‘Look, I know what my WAN needs are, and frankly my WAN needs are being met today, but I can’t pick up industry magazines without reading about SD-WAN, so I need to make sure that you will have some version of SD-WAN,'” Strople said.

Quick Hits

  • Windstream says more than 500 midsize enterprises have purchased its SD-WAN. Edward Gately reported the news in his recap of Windstream acquiring MassComm. Read the article.

  • Network World has an interesting story on how China’s “Great Firewall” may impact SD-WAN. The country will begin blocking TCP Port 80 for business customers that have not registered with a local internet service provider. In the simplest of terms, unregistered businesses won’t get VPN access. The blocking starts Thursday.

  • Data Bridge Market Research writes that the SD-WAN market was worth $753.1 million in 2016 and will grow at a rate of 66.2 percent over the next six years.

  • Aryaka partnered with Zscaler to combine its SD-WAN with Zscaler’s cloud security. Read Aryaka’s full announcement about the partnership, as well as the first EMEA edition of its “State of SD-WAN Connectivity” report.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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