May 18, 2022
Top SD-WAN providers need to offer more than just MPLS replacement to stay relevant in today’s highly competitive market.
Managed services are playing a bigger role in the market and numerous acquisitions have reshaped the industry in recent years. In addition, the hybrid work model facilitated by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed what customers demand from SD-WAN providers.
This is our second annual “CF List” focused on top SD-WAN providers, and the fifth if you count our previous CP Lists. Analysts and experts share their views on what it takes to succeed with the technology. It includes an updated list and fresh views on changes in the competitive landscape.
Omdia projects SD-WAN revenue to hit $5.5 billion in 2025. The analyst firm increased its forecast by $100 million since its last published its market prediction last June.
Biggest Shifts for SD-WAN Providers
Brian Washburn is Omdia‘s research director of service provider enterprise and wholesale. (Informa Tech is the parent company of both Omdia and Channel Futures.)
Omdia’s Brian Washburn
“The biggest shift is that enterprises are seeing security as part of the network again,” he said. “This is due to the demise of the security perimeter, which was fueled by work from home (WFH) and increased use of cloud services. So remote access support plus stepped-up security requirements plus increased use of cloud as part of the enterprise IT fabric, each of these trends feeds into the others.”
Enterprises now have numerous priorities for their SD-WAN solutions, Washburn said. Those are: more security, better performance, more reliability, more flexibility, better control and lower cost.
Evolving Definition of Top SD-WAN Providers
Mauricio Sanchez is Dell’Oro‘s research director for network security, secure access service edge (SASE) and SD-WAN.
Dell’Oro Group’s Mauricio Sanchez
“I think the definition of a cutting-edge SD-WAN provider continues to evolve and expand,” he said. “No longer can an SD-WAN provider rest on their laurels and just focus on how they can replace MPLS with commodity internet links at branch offices. While this is still a valid use case, the leading SD-WAN provider now needs to be able to show greater value across a number of different domains.”
Those four domains include security, cloud proficiency and capability, visibility and control, and 5G and its implications, Sanchez said.
“The explosion in remote work during the pandemic brought security front and center,” he said. “As we move into an era of hybrid work, the need to provide strong security when offsite, as a remote worker, and onsite, when in the office or branch, is key. Leading providers need to show how they fit into security-infused frameworks like SASE or what role they play in emerging security markets like secure service edge (SSE).”
Cloud Proficiency and Capability Important
In terms of cloud proficiency and capability, that’s how well the network supports the enterprise’s shift to the cloud, Sanchez said. It’s about cloud-based network services or how the SD-WAN solution supports the connectivity needs of workloads that have gone multicloud or third-party SaaS applications.
“As the internet becomes the corporate network, enterprises are clamoring for solutions that can help them gain the end-to-end visibility and control that they enjoyed on the networks they own and controlled,” he said. “[In addition], 5G is here and we’re in the early stages of its impact. Whether it’s the likely explosion in connected devices (think IoT and OT) or the new cadre of 5G-enabled network services (like private networks), there’s a lot of looming challenges and opportunities.”
Challenges with WFH Deployments
Joe Fizor is director of solutions engineering at TBI. He said SD-WAN platforms have been needing to address VPN/remote users and how they tie into the solution. That’s due to the increase in remote workers.
TBI’s Joe Fizor
“Many suppliers/vendors have chosen to pursue the SASE/SSE route to accomplish this and stay relevant to the newer definitions from organizations like Gartner,” he said. “Though we have also seen SD-WAN providers position WFH deployments, too. This becomes tricky when you … have to battle with other users on a personal network. For example, kids streaming/gaming, other knowledge workers in the home needing internet access, etc.”
We’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of 20 top SD-WAN providers. It’s based on feedback from analysts, experts and recent news reports. The providers are making the most of the ongoing competitive landscape and charting success.
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