Level 3: We don’t want to release a me-too SD-WAN product

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Level 3 sees an opportunity to leverage its SDN-based network to deliver SD-WAN services, but when it does it wants to stand out from the competition. 

Travis Ewert, SVP of global network software development at Level 3 Communications, told FierceTelecom that when it does launch its SD-WAN service it wants to provide something that competitors can’t offer.

“We’ll have a version that not only has more of a pure-play software-based solution, but also weaving in some of these on-demand capabilities, but also other capabilities,” Ewert said. “We’re working through a pilot and readiness for early deployment now and the intent for us to not do a me-too offering but something that we think is going to be differentiated.”

The service provider, which has built out a large SDN-based network infrastructure, has not revealed exactly when they will offer it.

Today, Level 3 offers a hybrid WAN service that allows customers to connect locations over various access mechanisms.

Being one of several companies to launch an SD-WAN service, Level 3’s concerns aren’t unfounded. Over the past few months, a number of traditional telcos, managed service providers and CLECs, including CenturyLink, Verizon, EarthLink, and MetTel have either announced a specific SD-WAN service or laid out plans.  

Analysts have taken a bullish outlook on SD-WAN. A recent IDC report has forecast SD-WAN to grow at a CAGR of 90 percent from 2015 to 2020, with global revenues of $6 billion.

One of the initial attractions of SD-WAN is that a large enterprise can use multiple service connections -- broadband, cable, or wireless-based LTE -- to create a massive Mesh-VPN between all branches of the corporate network. While still a nascent concept, SD-WAN offers a resilient and secure network at a lower cost than traditional solutions.

Regardless of the competitive landscape, Ewert said SD-WAN has great promise for Level 3.

“If you do that one right it becomes your managed edge model,” Ewert said. “Whether it’s delivered over on-net or off-net facilities, SD-WAN service is the future of the service delivery edge.”

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