SD-WAN Technology Trends, Future Growth, and Business Adoption


Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) turned into a trusted technology solution over the last two years. SD-WAN is a software specific application technology applied to WAN connections over enterprise networks spread over large geographic distances. It is a transformational approach which simplifies branch office networking and communication. Agility, cost effectiveness, and optimal application performance are the three basic tenets of SD-WAN. In this article, we discuss current SD-WAN trends, growth prospects and why businesses should opt for this enterprise solution.

SD-WAN Technology Trends

Some visible SD-WAN technology and adoption trends are highlighted below:

  1. 1- Distributed organizations like financial services and retail migrated to SD-WAN infrastructure.
  2. 2- The technology is evolving from its ability to deliver hybrid WAN architecture to centralized management and administration, integration to third-party network security, and granular analytical display.
  3. 3- SD-WAN will subsume the need for WAN optimization through built-in acceleration functionalities.
  4. 4- Availability of public cloud services increased the adoption of SD-WAN and organisations like Citrix and Cato Networks are creating SD-WAN connectivity services to usher innovation and scale-ability of WAN.
  5. 5- Complexity is the major branch security concern. Versa Networks conducted a study where the respondents were in favor of establishing an SD-WAN infrastructure.
  6. 6- Various organisations are the early adopters of hybrid WAN architectures while smaller businesses prefer the Internet with LTE wireless WAN options. The trend is shifting towards brand opting for Internet-only options to reduce MPLS costs and maximize bandwidth.

The year 2017 will see various players in the SD-WAN market.

SD-WAN Future Growth Options

The industry is experiencing rapid growth and innovation. In May 2017, Cisco Systems accelerated the industry by acquiring Viptela, an SD-WAN vendor. Cisco already deploys WAN through their iWAN program, and with the acquisition, Cisco sends out the message that they are taking the industry seriously.

SD-WAN is gaining momentum in the market, which can lead to these future developments.

1. A Strong Revenue Driver

SD-WAN market is projected by IDC to evolve into a $6 billion market by 2020. In the next three consecutive years, service providers will realize the importance of this technology and begin to adopt SD-WAN, in addition to offering software-defined security (SD-Security) services to create varied USPs. SD-Security would focus on unified threat management (UTM), malware protection, next-generation firewall (NGFW), intrusion prevention and URL content filtering.

2. White Box Appliance Deployments

As SD-WAN service providers and enterprises begin to realize the importance of capex/opex savings and NFV paradigms, it will lead to cost reduction in proprietary appliance deployments and organisations might opt to migrate to white box appliances. In the next year onward, the white box vendors would covet a greater market share as the migration to LAN, WAN and NFV based networks continue.

3. VNF Adoption

This year is seeing a rise in the adoption of virtualized network functions (VNF), due to the rising need of managed IT-level service solutions. Continued adoption will reduce service provider costs and increase the agility of the solutions. In short, even an SMB with a limited budget would be able to afford enterprise-grade SD-WAN services as the services would be hosted in enterprise cloud solutions built by the vendor. It will increase the market share of service providers and enable small or medium business owners to avail better IT infrastructure.

4. Enterprise Service Consolidation

The top challenge for a growing company is managing branch network security. Branch offices are suffering the hassle of managing different vendors and their services. An upgrade or change in a specific vendor software service creates a complete meltdown as the other connected services need to reconfigure. In a study of 300 network IT professionals by Dimensional Research found branch network security concerns a prominent thought, making these security loopholes a breeding ground for hacking attacks. The attack volume grew 500% in the last three years. It is predicted that in future enterprises will shift towards SD-WAN and SD-Security solutions aimed at reducing the number of branch appliances.

5. Business Adoption

SD-WAN was the buzzword in enterprise networking circles. In 2018, Gartner predicts that SD-WAN infrastructure will find an edge. The technology is lightweight; there is dynamic traffic distribution, enhanced security and visibility, lower costs, and efficient bandwidth. Commenting on business adoption, “We’ve seen strong interest from companies of all sizes as they look for ways to maximize their return on networking investments,” says Yishay Yovel, vice president of marketing at Cato Network, “Business has a new shape. It’s global, mobile, and cloud-dependent. The network needs to reflect those changes and become inherently secure as the basis for that evolution.”

Cato Networks offers a global SD-WAN based on a managed backbone with built-in network security, delivered as a cloud service. Founded by Shlomo Kramer and Gur Shatz, the company’s cloud-based SD-WAN technology connects all business resources including data centers, branches, mobile users and cloud infrastructure into a simple, secure and unified global network. Cato states its main benefits are MPLS cost reduction, elimination of branch security appliances, and optimized access to mobile users and cloud resources.

Commenting on the growth of the SD-WAN industry, Rohit Mehra, the Vice President of Network Infrastructure at IDC said:

“As public and private cloud use continue to grow, WAN performance becomes critical to latency-sensitive and mission-critical workloads and inter-data center business continuity. Accordingly, as enterprises plan and implement comprehensive cloud strategies, WAN architecture need to be considered alongside, and in conjunction with, data center infrastructure”.

On a closing note, SD-WAN is not an industry fad.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Chitraparna Sinha

Chitraparna Sinha is the Founder and Director of Esmee Network. She's also a guest contributor for

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