SD-WAN market/vendor consolidation will continue with a few vendors separating from the pack and leading the way forward. Enterprises will begin to realize that they need more than just basic SD-WAN functionality to address their evolving requirements at the WAN Edge.
Consolidation will force out the vendors that have merely added a handful of rudimentary features in an effort to participate in the SD-WAN market. This will ultimately reduce market noise and confusion and accelerate enterprise SD-WAN deployments globally.
The inability for basic SD-WAN offerings to address evolving customer WAN requirements will lead to disappointment for some early adopters. Enterprises that started with high expectations for their SD-WAN deployments will hit roadblocks across real-world production environments, concluding that basic SD-WAN is not good enough. They will ultimately realize that they must turn to vendors with proven WAN experience and a unified WAN edge platform.
The market will move toward a business-first networking model. Rather than constraining the business with network limitations, a business-first network model explicitly supports and accelerates new business initiatives. Instead of configuring the network one device at a time, IT will be able to describe the businesses’ needs at a high-level.
A business-first networking model will be powered by a self-driving wide area network platform that uses automation and machine learning to implement high-level business intent, and will continuously learn and adapt to ensure the network “just works”.
Even though most enterprises want to breakout internet traffic locally, they will discover that basic SD-WAN offerings which rely on DPI for application classification fall short of real-world requirements. Advanced classification techniques with automated updates are required to distinguish between white listed traffic for local breakout vs traffic that requires further inspection via next-gen firewall or cloud security services.
Real-time SaaS services such as cloud hosted voice and video will increasingly become a key driver in SD-WAN deployments. As enterprises transition to broadband, they will expect the quality, availability and reliability meets or exceeds their traditional telephony solutions. SD-WAN and UCaaS providers will partner together to deliver robust high-quality voice services over broadband.
As the threat landscape shifts, enterprises will search for ways to improve their security architecture and will more broadly deploy WAN segmentation as part of their overall security strategy. The traditional router-centric WAN allows any application in any branch to talk to any other application or branch meaning that if there is a breach anywhere, it can spread everywhere. Advanced SD-WAN platforms will be deployed to simply and consistently segment network traffic across the wide area network to limit exposure and contain threats.
Cloud security services go mainstream, becoming a simpler and more cost-effective alternative to deploying and continually maintaining complex next-gen firewalls at all branch locations. The SD-WAN edge becomes a natural on-ramp to these services. Advanced SD-WAN edge platforms enable enterprises to fully automate security service chaining and implement a mix of best-of-breed on-premise, data center and cloud security services on an application-by-application basis.
As more enterprises use multiple clouds, SD-WAN will provide a uniform fabric between physical locations and across cloud instances. Automation will make adding new cloud instances easy and fast, despite the inherent complexities and idiosyncrasies of each underlying cloud environment. By utilizing multiple paths between physical locations and each cloud instance, an advanced SD-WAN platform will deliver a more reliable and consistent user experience.
In 2019, we’ll see initial pockets of 5G deployment. To date, 4G access has primarily been used as a backup to higher bandwidth broadband internet connectivity because of its relatively low capacity and high cost per bit.
5G wireless access promises higher throughput rates and if priced appropriately, will become an attractive addition to the portfolio of SD-WAN transport options which today include broadband, DIA and MPLS. 5G could deliver a unique combination of fast deployment, diverse connectivity and high bandwidth that accelerates the adoption of broadband SD-WANs.