SD-WAN Roundup: ‘Not Everyone Is Going to Make Money’ in Crowded Vendor Race


Everyone’s selling SD-WAN these days.

Our latest column observes the mass entrance of IT and telecommunications companies into the market — and the migration shows no signs of slowing down. We spoke to an analyst about why we’re seeing such a logjam of SD-WAN branding, and we chatted with a partner about how to sell the technology.

A recently published Dell’Oro Group study predicts SD-WAN sales to average 35 percent growth for the next five years. The rate is high, but a Dell’Oro analyst notes that the market is on track to hit $2.2 billion in 2022, with a quarter of that number in hardware and the remainder in software.

Dell'Oro's Shin Umeda

Dell’Oro’s Shin Umeda

Despite the rapid growth rate, the industry remains relatively small, according to Dell’Oro’s Shin Umeda. He says enterprise routing is worth more today at approximately $3 billion.

“It is relatively small. There are a lot of vendors here who are vying to share a $2 billion market in four years. Divide that by 40 vendors. That’s not a lot of money to go around,” said Umeda, who leads market research for router and carrier Ethernet switch, NFV, and SD-WAN.

That being said, more and more businesses see the value of the technology. Umeda tells Channel Partners that the most important driver is the changing nature of enterprise traffic. Traffic traditionally traveled from branch office to data center, but now the movement is from branch offices to cloud-based applications and cloud-based infrastructure.

Moving directly to the cloud “circumvents” the traditional architecture and removes steps. Connecting the cloud requires additional bandwidth with an increased cost, making the internet an increasingly popular route for those applications. SD-WAN’s ability to harness the internet has made it an attractive option, according to Umeda.

The business customer must still address problems that the internet’s shared infrastructure presents. Security is of course a hot topic, and many enterprises have policies that prevent particular applications from leaving the private network. The need to send traffic through multiple connections leads customers to another task SD-WAN does well: application path control.

Dell’Oro reports that enterprises will comprise the biggest piece of the SD-WAN market in the upcoming years; meantime, the study projected a 40 percent annual growth rate for the deployments of SD-WAN as a managed service. And the fact that service providers and their customers can manage upgrades and configurations of various offices from one location is another adoption driver, Umeda said.

Vendor Pile-Up

Analysts have repeatedly used the words “saturation” and “consolidation” as they make projections for the SD-WAN market, which vendors continue to crowd. If the years 2012-2016 were about small, pure-play vendors acquiring venture capital and coming to market, 2017 was the year of two gigantic acquisitions by established IT companies Cisco and VMware. Cisco bought Viptela, and VMware followed by purchasing VeloCloud.

But 2018 might be remembered as the year public companies like Fortinet and Aruba announced their entrance into the market. Perhaps more interesting than the size of the new entrants is their startling diversity. Fortinet, which went from partnering with SD-WAN vendors to making its own solution, is a security company. Aruba is known for …

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