In its recent report, "Worldwide SD-WAN Forecast: 2017-2021,"International Data Corp. (IDC) forecasts that global software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology's ability to meet enterprise branch networking demands will drive growth of SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues over the next five years. According to the IDC report, the market will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 69.6 percent and reach $8.05 billion in 2021.
The most influential factor behind SD-WAN growth will be digital transformation (DX) in which enterprises deploy "3rd Platform" technologies to tap into innovation sources such as cloud, big data and analytics, mobility, and social business. IDC identified these sources as key to improved customer experiences and financial performance, as DX maximizes the network's end-to-end importance to business operation, and network workloads.
Another significant factor driving future SD-WAN growth is the demand for public cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. Increased SaaS adoption for business applications throughout the enterprise reduces significance of MPLS-based WAN connectivity to the branch. In a policy-driven, centrally manageable distributed network architecture, IDC forecasts growth in the use of SD-WAN for path selection and effective connectivity optimization.
"SD-WAN is not a solution in search of a problem," said Robert Mehra, vice president, network infrastructure at IDC. "Traditional WANs were not architected for the cloud and are also poorly suited to the security requirements associated with distributed and cloud-based applications. And, while hybrid WAN emerged to meet some of these next-generation connectivity challenges, SD-WAN builds on hybrid WAN to offer a more complete solution."
According to IDC, increased acceptance and adoption of software-defined networking (SDN) throughout the enterprise is a driver in SD-WAN growth as well. The importance of virtualization, cloud management, and SDN throughout enterprise networks will position SD-WAN to receive future consideration.
SD-WAN builds on hybrid WAN, while including technologies that offer enhanced path selection across WAN links, based on the application policies defined on the controller, such as:
- A centralized, application-based policy controller
- Analytics for application and network visibility
- A secure software overlay that abstracts the underlying networks
- An optional SD-WAN forwarder (routing capability)
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