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Software-Defined Everything: The State & Future of SD-WAN

Expected to reach a value of $30 billion by 2026, the global SD-WAN market is growing rapidly as more enterprises demand the virtualization technology and its ability to serve as a network management solution.

Though demand was already rising prior to the last twelve months, SD-WAN was one of several technologies that took off in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and the subsequent shifts in working and enterprise strategy. More businesses are sourcing SD-WAN to enhance their network architecture and improve day-to-day processes, which is paving the way for an exciting future in the digital space.

The role of SD-WAN in 2020

With 92% of respondents in Futuriom’s 2020 survey of 100 enterprise end users having said they were evaluating SD-WAN services and/or software, 2020 certainly saw major growth in the awareness and adoption of SD-WAN.

Over the last year, this growth has been supported by the fierce competition that has come to exist within the SD-WAN market, with Cisco, Silver Peak, Versa, VMware, and Fortinet all competing for market leadership.

According to Dell’Oro, these five vendors were said to account for around 60% of revenue collectively in 2019, with none of which surpassing 20% of market share individually. This has compelled all players in the SD-WAN market to step up their game in the last twelve months to deliver the best, most outstanding offering.

Despite delays in projected growth early in the year, the SD-WAN market was also given a boost in 2020 by the work from home (WFH) trend that took hold and ultimately changed the way of work for businesses, according to Futuriom.

As workers were confined to their homes in light of mandatory lockdown and social distancing measures, enterprises around the world were able to utilize SD-WAN and its ability to integrate virtual private networking (VPN) functionality for both remote workers and enterprise branches.

Home network spending is expected to permanently increase as a result of the restrictions set in place in 2020 as many businesses adopt a multimodal approach in their day-to-day operations, which is sure to spur increased demand for enterprise-grade tools like SD-WAN.

Why enterprises are utilizing SD-WAN

According to Futuriom’s 2020 SD-WAN Growth Report featuring a survey of enterprise end users, the top four benefits of SD-WAN adoption include improved security, better management and agility, bandwidth optimization and subsequent cost savings, and faster cloud applications performance.

Digital security has become top of mind for many business executives in recent times, and related concerns have become a crucial determinant for whether an enterprise chooses to incorporate certain technologies into their architecture.

According to SDxCentral, “...security network functions need to be virtualized to keep up with evolving security threats and to control the cost of updating and upgrading security elements,” which is incentivizing both cost- and security-conscious enterprises to implement SD-WAN technologies.

Enterprises are also sourcing SD-WAN to better their network management and be more agile. It enables flexibility and efficiency across business’ IT architecture, which is desired by those who want to incorporate complex cloud strategies, and those who are just looking for a more seamless experience.

The virtualization technology also facilitates the automation of otherwise manual tasks like maintenance and configuration changes, which works to improve efficiency in terms of cost, resources, and time. This allows businesses to be more productive and focus on providing their offering rather than wasting time and effort trying to manage their networks.

Benefits of SD-WAN in remote working environments

In 2019, the SD-WAN market size exceeded $1 billion, and this figure is only expected to grow between 2020 and 2026 (by a CAGR of 60%, in fact).

With many businesses continuing with remote work this year and perhaps even further down the track, one of the biggest motivations for enterprises to adopt SD-WAN in 2021 and beyond is to be able to support this new working model.

With increased demand for WFH tools like robust video quality, more bandwidth, and centrally operated networks for distributed sites, more organizations are looking for a permanent and effective solution to sustain their new way of working. And more often than not, SD-WAN can do just that.

By decoupling a company’s WAN transport services from its applications and centralizing the control function of the network, SD-WAN makes building and managing long-distance networks easier, affording remote-working businesses all new levels of flexibility and seamless interaction.

SD-WAN is continuing to prove a quality asset to many enterprises’ architectures, and there’s no sign this will be slowing down any time soon. After the year that’s been, more businesses are recognizing the importance of SD-WAN technologies, and the vital role they play in enabling agile, secure, and efficient business, from wherever in the world.

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