The combination of software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization technologies promises reduced costs, better application performance, greater visibility into cloud-based applications and network performance, unprecedented flexibility, ease of use and more. It presents a compelling case as an attractive alternative to traditional hardware-centric networking architectures, specifically those based on more expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits.
Yet, despite the potential of these frequently hyped benefits, SD-WAN is still in the early stages of adoption. In fact, based on 2016 research, Gartner predicts that enterprise spending on SD-WAN will grow tenfold by 2021 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59 percent.¹
While some businesses ranging from retail to banking to manufacturing are implementing a degree of SD-WAN, most large enterprises are still in the evaluation stage for a variety of valid reasons. It requires a new set of software skills for in-house staff who are trained in working with physical routers and switches; causes concern of abandoning investments in hardware-based network architectures; and potentially ushers in an overall cultural shift within IT departments. Nevertheless, SD-WAN is worth some serious consideration for any enterprise IT department.
¹ Gartner Forecast Analysis: Enterprise Network Equipment, Worldwide, 1Q17 Update. April 11, 2017.