Gartner Report Review: Making Sense of the SD-WAN Disruption Phenomenon

By Rosa Lear
Director of Marketing, Content
July 12, 2017

Gartner published a report titled “SD-WAN is Causing Disruption at the Enterprise WAN Edge,” discussing how various vendors are taking advantage of the changes in the market with their own technologies. In this blog, we will discuss VeloCloud’s key takeaways from the report and our perspective in servicing this fast growing market.

Architecture – Corporate Infrastructure vs. Market Deployment

Architecture is a key consideration in choosing the right SD-WAN vendor that fits a business’ specific current requirements, future growth and long term vision. There are significant differences between vendors with regards to the approach they have taken to architect, design and built SD-WAN and how they implement, deploy and support the solution to customers.

Corporate InfrastructureImage_Gartner-cloud

There is a clear delineation between organic SD-WAN technology vendors and those that have adopted SD-WAN as a new market strategy. The entire architecture of organic SD-WAN vendors is conceived and built from the ground to support and deliver SD-WAN and SD-WAN is their intrinsic core competency. All technology and market developments are primarily focused on SD-WAN and optimizing the customer experience. These type of vendors, of which there are only a few, are considered Pure-Play and commonality includes a flexible and logical topology overlay, a rich application policy, and the high degrees of operational efficiencies they provide to customers. VeloCloud is firmly in this camp.

Alternatively, those that are not considered Pure-Play SD-WAN vendors can be lumped into a more general category where SD-WAN is an incremental feature set on an existing product offering or a product line. Their business and architecture is not originally designed for SD-WAN, and has been adjusted to service this burgeoning market. Gartner provides a more granular categorization of these non-organic SD-WAN vendors as “routing vendors” and “pivoting vendors” (WAN optimization, WAN virtualization, WAN path controllers, and security).

Market Deployment

The underlying architecture implemented by each SD-WAN vendor lends itself directly to the type of customer infrastructure, applications and future that it can support. For instance, pure-play SD-WAN vendors are highly adaptable to numerous networking topologies because their technology is inherently vendor and technology agnostic. Customers are generally given two deployment models – Over-the-Top and Network Integrated and will normally want to deploy with 1) one of two models; 2) initially with one and migrate over time to another; 3) or a hybrid of the two. Additional flexibility from pure-play SD-WAN vendors includes the options for hosted management, to manage the solution internally leveraging a robust suite of APIs and SDK, or a shared approach.

Customers evaluating the adoption of SD-WAN need to ensure that the SD-WAN vendors they are evaluating completely understand their network architecture, scalability requirements, cloud services implementations and transport model to offer a solution that works seamlessly and easily with these. Too much customization to make a model fit can result in bigger and broader issues down the line.

Ultimately, architecture matters when it comes to choosing an SD-WAN solution.  To be effective and true to the core tenants and benefits of SD-WAN, the architecture must originate as an SD-WAN design from the ground.  By its nature, SD-WAN cannot be delivered as a group of features or separate software stack on a router, WAN optimization appliance, or WAN path controller.

One SD-WAN Vendor vs. Multiple Vendors

In its report, Gartner suggests that customers hedge their bets in this relatively new market by incorporating contract provisions to allow them to transition from one SD-WAN vendor to another in case the first vendor isn’t a good fit. While this seems like a prudent recommendation in a market that is expected to experience consolidation, VeloCloud suggests that those seeking SD-WAN solutions set very strict selection criteria for their primary vendor to ensure that a secondary transition, though planned for, is ultimately never required, including:

  • longevity of the solution
  • hardened technology
  • number of successfully deployed customers and sites
  • ecosystem technology integration
  • solution flexibility, scalability, and adaptability
  • simplification of deployment
  • enables fast contract-to-cash process
  • established and realistic roadmap

Ecosystem Integrations are Key

Gartner highlights that no one vendor provides all the various components that may be required by customers such as security in the form of a true firewall, full routing capabilities, worldwide geographical support, and IP telephony. This emphasizes the need to look at SD-WAN vendor VNF and cloud integration with best-of-breed security technology vendors.  In addition to this, there are table stakes security technologies which must be built into the fabric of the SD-WAN architecture itself.  This includes scalable site-to-site and site-to-cloud security using strong PKI pairwise keys, central orchestration and an integrated certificate authority with an optional branch office firewall in the vCPE (virtual customer premises equipment).  True multi-tenancy and multi-segmentation is another absolute requirement for both Enterprises and operators.

VeloCloud offers these inherent security capabilities in its SD-WAN solution while augmenting those capabilities through its SD-WAN Technology Partner Program with best in class on-premises and cloud security partners (Zscaler, Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet, CheckPoint, IBM, Symantec, and Forcepoint) to deliver the functionality that its customers require. Additionally, VeloCloud has built its solution to be able to provide technical support and shipping capabilities worldwide, into over 120 countries.

SD-WAN Requires an Aligned Partnership Strategy

Gartner predicts that the SD-WAN market will grow at a 76.4% CAGR, reaching $1.3B by the year 2020. This astronomical growth means that companies looking to adopt SD-WAN will need to be strategic in the decisions they make with regards to SD-WAN vendors and solutions today. Service Providers, MSPs, and Systems Integrators will need to align themselves with SD-WAN vendors that can integrate their technology into the greater scope of offered solutions, and provide significant differentiation to end-customers. A mature genuine SD-WAN vendor provides not only technology deployment guidance, but also offers go-to-market support (including differentiation guidance) and technical support that will enable a services provider to set themselves apart and succeed.

For more on how to transition to SD-WAN, download the 2017 Guide to WAN Architecture and Design by Dr. Jim Metzler.

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