Last year, I had the pleasure of attending multiple industry events about SD-WAN, joining our fellow connectivity and technology players across the UK and Europe. Together, we’ve had numerous opportunities to compare notes and learn about what the future holds for this game-changing technology – particularly important as the last year saw a huge advancement in the adoption of SD-WAN across UK businesses.
According to ResearchandMarkets, some of the key factors driving this market adoption include cost savings from efficient usage of private and public networks, the ability to optimise hybrid cloud or multi-cloud connectivity, and application-aware routing. But despite the positive trend, there’s still a way to go before we see truly widespread adoption.
With that in mind, it’s during these early stages that our industry must take responsibility for educating the market and delivering excellence. Across all the events I attended, seven emerging themes effecting customers became clear. So let’s look at them in more detail, and discuss how any arising issues can be resolved.
1. The rise of hybrid environments
RightScale’s ‘state of the cloud’ survey saw a marked rise in hybrid cloud adoption, from 58 per cent to 71 per cent year on year (2016). This is where organisations can use an on-premise private cloud to host critical data, and use a public cloud to host and process less critical information at the same time. Computing needs to change to allow workloads to move between private and public clouds in this way.
Hybrid cloud increases flexibility and gives businesses more data deployment possibilities. It also means that SD-WAN is needed more than ever before to maintain visibility across the network – especially for those in sectors with a deluge of data, such as financial services, media and retail.
2. Some will prefer managed WAN
The benefit being that it’s a cost-effective network service, which enables organisations to connect to the Internet or multiple locations via a secure, private, resilient and high-performance network. All with a nimble real-time monitoring system and a competitive price.
3. Sales opportunities are split into two categories – DIY/Co-managed or fully managed/outsourced
From the research we have seen, the choice in what a business progresses with varies depending on location in the UK and Europe, as well as market segment or customer size. However, according to Silver Peak data, the majority of customers, sometimes as many as 80%, are asking for pre-sales, design work and deployment services from their partner – deciding to go about day-to-day management themselves.
4. You can’t sell SD-WAN without considering security
UK businesses are making it clear that security is paramount when they’re thinking about an SD-WAN solution. And even if a customer has a security solution in place, it may not be sufficient. Vendors increasingly need to consider all vulnerabilities when updating that customer’s unique network landscape, and how they might offer solutions that make it more robust.
5. Increased use of virtualisation
In order to reduce overheads, operational fees and minimise the need for so many software licences, companies are making software-based or virtual versions of servers, applications and networks. However, from an IT architecture perspective, this step change means companies need better visibility over their entire network.
6. Adoption isn’t currently that widespread, but it will be
According to a global Gartner report, by 2023 more than 90 per cent of WAN edge infrastructure refresh initiatives will be based on virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) or SD-WAN appliances versus traditional routers (up from less than 40 per cent today).
7. Migration from traditional WAN to SD-WAN
While the last decade has seen the US lead the charge with SD-WAN implementation, it is gaining traction in Europe. However, there’s still a way to go. There has been an initial evolution, and most of these businesses are coming from a traditional WAN environment.
Embracing the fact that SD-WAN requires explanation to showcase its benefits to customers is vital. There are still many myths surrounding this technology at the beginning of its adoption curve. However, the business benefits stand to be epic! To learn more about the uses of SD-WAN take a look at our myth-busting content.