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


… wireless access points. VMware does virtualization. And Cisco — well, you’ve heard about them.

And that’s just the IT side.

NTT Com was an early telecommunications company to buy an SD-WAN company (Virtela), and AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have been active in the market over the last two years. Windstream says it now has more than 1,000 customers deploying the technology.

The question is then, how many of these companies are serious about selling SD-WAN. And is SD-WAN that easy to make?

Umeda says numerous companies are responding to competitive threats. He says many wanted to match Cisco, even as Cisco was responding to startups that threatened to depose its architecture.

“Fundamentally, some of the technologies are not difficult to create. Control point software, configuration capabilities — things like that which make a low barrier to entry, which is why 30-40 companies are making these claims,” he said. “That’s all fine and good, because it forces other innovations.”

Some of the large vendors might legitimately use their historic skill sets – be it security, virtualization or wireless – to bring a unique value proposition. But for a number of companies, it’s enough to assure customers that they too have an offering for the hot new technology.

“The reality is not everyone is going to make money off of this, and some are doing this just to do it,” Umeda said.

He says consolidation or elimination are inevitable for many of the standalone vendors. Markets near the size of $2 billion rarely support more than three or four vendors, according to his research.

The winners of this race are the ones that will make SD-WAN “a component of a bigger picture,” Umeda said.

A Partner Perspective

INFINIT Consulting's Darrin Swan

INFINIT Consulting’s Darrin Swan

Darrin Swan also views SD-WAN as a means to an end rather than an end unto itself. Swan leads Infinit Consulting, a California-based firm whose branding has evolved from a consultant to an MSP to a cloud service provider and to a digital-transformation provider.

SD-WAN plays an important role for him and his company, but selling the technology to customers is not the end goal.

“[Digital transfomation] work doesn’t mean SD-WAN. I consider SD-WAN part of the foundation now. It’s not transformational. It’s just making things run a little smoother,” Swan said.

I asked Swan if customers are demanding SD-WAN. He says people …

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