8 Big SD-WAN Trends and Predictions


What a time it is to sell software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services.

The experts seem to agree that the technology has gone mainstream among customers, and early SD-WAN adopters need bigger pockets to hold all the return on investment. Many of us wondered in previous years if SD-WAN’s bark was bigger than its bite, but study after study shows that adoption is matching the hype.

TBI's Corey Cohen

TBI’s Corey Cohen

“It’s picking up momentum — less theoretical and now put into practice,” said Corey Cohen, vice president of marketing for TBI, which is reporting a 700% year-over-year SD-WAN sales increase.

Stefanie Whittington, vice president of brand experience for QOS Networks, said customers are more and more aware of SD-WAN’s possible benefits.

Whittington, Stefanie_QOS Networks

QOS Networks’ Stefanie Whittington

“From making their application performance more stable to enabling better flexibility in connectivity choices, SD-WAN has become the preferred solution that forward-thinking companies are adopting,” Whittington said. “Especially those that are considering new technologies for 2020 like IoT, preparing for 5G, or increasing the amount of demand at the edge.”

Cohen and Whittington spoke to Channel Partners about trends and predictions for the world of SD-WAN.

They’re part of a panel – consisting of two master agents, a consultancy and an MSP – that shared where it sees the SD-WAN market moving. Scroll through the images below to learn more about the hot technology that’s driving convergence between the IT and telecom channels. You can also check out a fascinating channel-related SD-WAN survey Heavy Reading conducted.

Women in the Channel
Hot, Hot, Hot

TBI's Corey Cohen cited a recent Masergy/IDG report that shows SD-WAN adoption increasing from 35% to over 54% since 2017. While failover, redundancy and application were initially chief concerns, Cohen said the the conversation is changing.

"The increased selling point of SD-WAN is now remote employee access to SaaS and multicloud connectivity," she said.
Women in the Channel
Remote Employees

Remote and mobile workers were a key theme in the latest IHS Markit SD-WAN market share leaderboard. Josh Bancroft, senior research analyst at IHS Markit, pointed to health care verticals that are installing SD-WAN devices in homes and vendors that are working to bond LTE and broadband links.

“In the future, we anticipate further deployments of SD-WAN appliances in the homes of remote employees, with either compact or more traditional appliance form factors being used,” Bancroft said.
Women in the Channel
The End of Routers?

Matthew Toth, president of C3 Technology Advisors, predicted that IT departments will stop buying routers in 2020 — likely replacing them with SD-WAN/security devices. And that could have a big impact on Cisco.

"Up until now, there has often been the need for coexistence between routers and SD-WAN devices since organizations have had big investments in expensive Cisco routers," Toth said. "As router refresh cycles happen, organizations will realize that those SD-WAN devices can wholly replace the routers. Out with the routers and in with the SD-WAN devices."

C3 Technology Advisors is a Michigan-based consultancy that helps numerous customers pick out SD-WAN providers.
Women in the Channel
'Never Down'

Two main segments comprise the SD-WAN market, according to Christopher Shubert, CNSG's vice president of business development. Shubert calls the first "Simple Never Down Networks."

"The simple networks do not involve security, are relatively low-cost, and are thriving in retail and the restaurant space where uptime is important but cannot be cost-prohibitive," he said. "Due to the inexpensive nature of this design, we see the majority of sales going with this option today. This design also allows the VAR, MSP, or IT director to control the overall security strategy with their own established firewall."
Women in the Channel
On the Other Hand ...

Shubert calls the second market segment the "Complex Application Aware Network." This pricier option delivers business value through analytics, security and traffic prioritization.

"We are seeing more and more customers starting to move in this direction, and we expect this trend to continue in 2020," Shubert said. "Outsourcing the intricate pieces of your network to a trusted supplier makes a lot of sense to IT directors as the 'as a service' era of purchasing continues to gain ground."

CNSG is a North Carolina-based master agent that works with multiple SD-WAN suppliers, including Bigleaf Networks, Cato Networks, Aryaka and CloudGenix.
Women in the Channel

Stefanie Whittington, QOS Networks' vice president of brand experience, anticipates a movement toward the software-defined branch in 2020. That comes as SD-WAN exits the early adopter phase.

"As more and more organizations begin to adopt this technology as the industry standard, IT teams will look more toward a holistic network approach that simplifies their experience and investment," Whittington said. "SD-branch is filling that need and continues to evolve and become the mentality that many IT teams will set their sights on. With the promise of simplicity, better performance and less management, the move toward SD-branch will see a rise during 2020."

QOS is a California-based managed network services provider that boasts a strong VMware relationship.
Women in the Channel
Bringing in the Future

Cohen envisions SD-WAN enabling and optimizing some of the hottest up-and-coming technologies.

"I’m excited about the practical application of IoT initiatives, live streams, AI-integrated collaboration/conferencing and videos being delivered in near-real time thanks to 5G and with traffic segmentation and priority changing the customer experience, ultimately morphing what human interaction will look like," she said.

TBI is a Chicago-based master agent that works with several SD-WAN vendors.
Women in the Channel

Cohen said she expects SD-WAN vendors add more advanced, platform-native security features. Matthew Toth went a step further and delivered a bold ultimatum.

"By 2020, if SD-WAN providers don’t have a true firewalling capability, you might as well close up shop and sell your intellectual property to a firewalling company," he said. "Clients want [fewer] devices deployed on site, and the combining of SD-WAN and security onto a single device will greatly simplify implementing and managing both platforms."

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