LOS ANGELES—It’s now clear from the MEF19 service provider technology conference that SD-WAN has arrived to solve all problems, including world hunger. Well, maybe not real hunger. But world hunger for new telecom revenue.
That seems to be the hope in the service provider community, which has embraced SD-WAN with open arms as the MEF makes a big push in the market by defining SD-WAN services and moving towards standards and certification with MEF 3.0.
As SD-WAN popped up in about 80% of the conference panels, I heard some folks grousing that maybe the MEF had gone overboard on the topic – as hot buzzwords du jour such as edge compute, AI, network functions virtualization (NFV), and closed-loop monitoring got pushed aside. A variety of service providers and technology suppliers seems to have reached consensus—software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is emerging as the platform of the future for deploying and managing new enterprise network services.
It makes sense. SD-WAN is here and now. Futuriom's most recent research shows that enterprises want to buy it, with 64% of 121 enterprise managers surveyed saying they want to purchase an SD-WAN managed service in the next 24 months. It's nice to see ratification from the leading global service providers in the world, including speakers from companies such as AT&T, Orange, Microsoft, Tata Communications, Sparkle, Verizon, and many others.
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The discussion among potential service providers is about how SD-WAN can be used to link to dynamic multi-cloud services, provide a launching point for a portfolio of managed security services, and give customers more control over managing all of their networks.
"The key is that there is value to the customer, said Eric Barrett, senior director, network product management, CenturyLink. "All of [the customers] are using cloud-based applications. Every department is adding applications in the department. Having a centralized access and providing IP-VPN and being able to use multiple services off of SD-WAN is important. You are going to see more and more expansion."
Bob Victor, senior vice president of product management, Comcast Business, said SD-WAN offers important functions for solving enterprise networking challenges:
• Providing quality of service (QoS) and network segmentation. SD-WAN can create HOV lanes and separate consumer traffic, such as Netflix, from mission-critical business traffic, such executives videoconferencing.
• Facilitating centralized visibility and management for hybrid networks
• Providing a network security platform
• Facilitating cost savings on both operational and bandwidth costs
Spectrum Enterprise's Satya Parimi, group vice president for enterprise data products and smart cities, said one of SD-WAN's key attributes is that it can be the tool to enable dynamic provisioning of services by the customer. They can use that with a customer portal and universal Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).
"These are all real-world problems that enterprise have to deal with," Parimi said. "Using dynamic services with orchestration and AI/analytics."
The excitement about SD-WAN is clear. But that doesn’t mean all the other stuff—network monitoring, service assurance, NFV, software-defined networking, and AI—is useless. In fact, the real payoff in SD-WAN is it will push all of these other technologies to coalesce around a service provider network that is more dynamic, programmable, and directly responsive to end-users needs. For example, not far in the distant future they may be able to quickly order up WAN services and new cloud connectivity services, and then be able to see all of the activity on their own network, through a carrier-managed service, without even picking up of the phone.
R. Scott Raynovich is the founder and chief analyst of Futuriom. For two decades, he has been covering a wide range of technology as an editor, analyst, and publisher. Most recently, he was VP of research at SDxCentral.com, which acquired his previous technology website, Rayno Report, in 2015. Prior to that, he was the editor in chief of Light Reading, where he worked for nine years. Raynovich has also served as investment editor at Red Herring, where he started the New York bureau and helped build the original Redherring.com website. He has won several industry awards, including an Editor & Publisher award for Best Business Blog, and his analysis has been featured by prominent media outlets including NPR, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the San Jose Mercury News. He can be reached at [email protected]; follow him @rayno.
Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceTelecom staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceTelecom.