EarthLink to begin offering turnkey SD-WAN solutions in Q3 this year

EarthLink sees software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services as one of the next potential sources of growth for its business customer segment, particularly as customers adopt hybrid services.

Speaking to investors during its fourth quarter 2015 earnings call, CEO Joe Eazor said that the service provider is currently testing the SD-WAN offering in its lab and plans to conduct live trials with business customers later this year.

"We are aggressively working on an industry leading set of services around SD-WAN," Eazor said during the earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "We are finalizing our solutions in a lab environment and we are launching with these multiple beta customers within next couple of months. We plan to have our full suite of offerings from professional services through complete turnkey SD-WAN solutions launched into the market in Q3 of this year."

Given the complexity of migrating to any SDN-based solution, being able to offer complementary professional services for the SD-WAN service will enable EarthLink to help guide customers on how the technology best fits their needs.

What's compelling about SD-WAN is that it applies SDN technology to WAN connections, which are used to connect enterprise networks over large geographic distances. SD-WAN services will move the network control into the cloud via a software approach.

However compelling the SD-WAN may be, Eazor cautioned that the real momentum for SD-WAN won't be seen until 2017.   

"It's going to take some time for that demand to materialize," Eazor said. "So we are still on the front end of this. I think we will see some traction this year, but I wouldn't expect major numbers in SD-WAN for -- it's going to take a few years before that becomes widely accepted as network protocol in my view. But I do think we will start to see some traction this year, certainly in 2017."

Regardless of when it really starts to take hold, having such a service will give EarthLink another option to for its business customer base. It will have a broader suite of services, including MPLS, hybrid SD-WAN MPLS and standalone SD-WAN, allowing it to maximize the value of each service for its customers depending on their individual needs.

EarthLink is hardly alone in its desire to offer SD-WAN services. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and its partner Viptela recently announced it will deliver a new software defined networking solution using Viptela's Software Defined WAN Platform, for example.

For more:
- see the Seeking Alpha earnings transcript

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