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Four New SD-WAN Findings for 2021

By Brianna BoudreauFeb 22, 2021

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SD-WAN can seem like a moving target.

But what do you need to know about SD-WAN right now, at this moment in time?

We thought a lot about this question as we developed our latest refresh of the SD-WAN Research Service. While we can't divulge all of our new intel in this blog, we did want to shout out some of our top-level findings. Keep scrolling to enjoy a bite-size sampling of our latest data.

SD-WAN Has Gone Mainstream

As the technology matures, the number of enterprises deploying SD-WAN has rapidly increased.

Only 18% of respondents to our WAN Manager Survey reported they had installed SD-WAN on at least part of their network in 2018. In 2020, 43% of respondents indicated they had installed the service, a sizable increase.

This points to the momentum that the service has garnered amongst enterprise customers in a short period of time.

Market Maturation Means More M&A, Managed Services

SD-WAN customers are no longer just early adopters.

As the service has moved to include more mainstream enterprise customers, the popularity of managed SD-WAN has risen.

With a multitude of suppliers in the market, concern over market consolidation remains prevalent. In fact, vendor longevity ranked fourth amongst enterprises in our WAN Manager Survey in terms of SD-WAN feature importance when selecting an SD-WAN supplier.

With a multitude of suppliers in the market, concern over market consolidation remains prevalent. In fact, vendor longevity ranked fourth amongst enterprises in our WAN Manager Survey in terms of SD-WAN feature importance when selecting an SD-WAN supplier.

Several early market leaders have been acquired, many by incumbent network hardware and equipment suppliers. These acquisitions allow companies with a background in network infrastructure to offer a more comprehensive SD-WAN solution that includes a cloud-based offering alongside traditional SD-WAN appliances.

Security Emerges as a Critical Feature Set

Most SD-WAN suppliers did not build the full stack of security services into their initial SD-WAN service. But many are now looking to do so. This is in part to distinguish themselves in a crowded market. But also to achieve better performance and make coordination of SD-WAN and security services easier for end-users.

The network security landscape is undergoing changes as well.

“Zero Trust" security—which focuses on verifying users, validating devices, limiting access + privileges, and using analytics to adapt policies—has garnered a lot of interest from enterprises. And many SD-WAN vendors have looked to incorporate the approach into how they construct their SD-WAN overlays. Alongside Zero Trust, cloud-based security services are another key security feature incorporated into next-generation SD-WAN offerings.

The sudden and dramatic shift to remote work due to COVID-19 introduced a host of new challenges for WAN Managers. One was securing remote access for remote employees. In response to this, we saw SD-WAN vendors roll out or enhance existing remote access options to keep employees securely and reliably connected to the WAN.

SD-WAN Pricing Models Are Converging

SD-WAN pricing models are in flux and price ranges remain wide. But as the service has matured, we've started to see some convergence in the market between individual vendor price points. Particularly at lower capacity sites (10-100 Mbps) where a bulk of reported WAN sites lie.

Opting for a managed SD-WAN service poses additional price implications. While NRC charges for managed SD-WAN services are comparable to unmanaged SD-WAN, recurring charges are much higher, usually about twice the price. 

Even with the increase in price associated with managed SD-WAN services, if you're able to reduce underlying network costs, you can achieve overall network savings.

Want more analysis? There's lots more where this came from. This post was developed from our SD-WAN Research Service.

 

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Brianna Boudreau

Brianna Boudreau

Senior Research Manager Brianna Boudreau joined TeleGeography in 2008. She specializes in pricing and market analysis for wholesale and enterprise network services with a regional focus on Asia and Oceania. While at TeleGeography, Brianna has helped develop and launch several new lines of research, including our Cloud and WAN Infrastructure service and the SD-WAN Research Service.

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