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More Businesses Adopt SD-WAN with Growing Penetration of Cloud-Based Applications and Mobility

The industry has long debated which technology is superior for global enterprise Wide Area Networks (WANs): multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) or Internet-based virtual private networks (VPNs). While some argue that Internet-based VPNs are preferable because of their flexibility, scalability and cost benefits, others swear by MPLS for its reliability and performance (albeit expensive) characteristics. The choice of MPLS versus Internet comes down to whether the CIO is comfortable with entrusting his/her company's applications to the Internet or prefers to keep them on a private network that does not touch the Internet. However, the growing penetration of cloud-based applications and mobility is forcing enterprises to re-evaluate their networking strategies.

New analysis from Stratecast | Frost & Sullivan, Software-Defined WAN: Simplifying Enterprise Hybrid WAN Deployments, shares insight on the SD-WAN's value proposition for enterprises, market trends driving adoption of SD-WAN solutions, an overview of leading SD-WAN vendors' market approaches, and network security providers' SD-WAN initiatives.
Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is a revolutionary approach to enterprise WAN deployments. SD-WAN's allows enterprises to use a variety of transport links (including Internet, MPLS, wireless, broadband) and deploy branch sites in a cost-effective and agile manner. A key value proposition of the solution is the centralized, software-based control and policy management that shifts network administrators' focus from network management to that of application management. In turn, it provides enterprises the much needed control mechanism to deploy, run and manage WANs that helps improve operational efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership; this has attracted significant interest from enterprises, especially from verticals from highly distributed branch locations  (e.g., retail, healthcare, banking and financial services, education).
MPLS VPNs are the dominant type of WAN service used by enterprises that need to connect their distributed enterprises globally. MPLS connections are private networks that never touch the Internet, and offer a high level of reliability and performance, as they enable traffic prioritization using the class of service (CoS) feature. However, a MPLS-based WAN architecture is static in nature, as the network is configured using dedicated proprietary hardware (routers and switches) at all the sites that need to be on the WAN. The static nature of the architecture adds to lengthy circuit provisioning times and complexity in configuring and managing connections across thousands of enterprise sites. MPLS circuits are also expensive, as the cost involves a proprietary router at each site, access circuits, the bandwidth cost, and associated CoS fee.
Some vendors are forging partnerships with NSPs to tap into their managed services capabilities to compete better. It is too early to predict which will be the dominant business model (direct sales to enterprises versus the service provider channel) considering the early stages of the market.
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