Greg Ferro made a bold prediction recently about 2015 being the year of SD-WAN. A networking veteran and a self-proclaimed nerd, Greg’s never been one to hide his enthusiasm for disruptive technologies. Even though Cisco’s SDN data center solution, the ACI, is struggling to capture early adopters, Ferro argues that SDN in the WAN will be different.
He points to the success that VMware’s NSX and a few other SDN data center solutions have experienced as the primary reason for his bullishness. Specifically, Greg points out that SDN technologies which use an overlay architecture, like VMware NSX, can deliver immediate results in the WAN without the need to rip or replace existing infrastructure.
Not surprisingly, the same factors behind the success of server virtualization—abstracting infrastructure with software—are going to play a key role in the SD-WAN. Server virtualization transformed how computing resources are deployed and managed in the data center. Similarly, the benefits of SDN are redefining the traditional WAN.
Greg also points out that the WAN is hurting more and in need of the immediate operational benefits that the SD-WAN provides. For example, SD-WAN can be used to boost the utilization of traditional backup links from 0% to 100%. It also enables carrier independence, which eliminates networking delays on new projects. Lastly, it provides a depth and breadth of system visibility and analytics, which is severely lacking in traditional WAN architectures.
In 2014 we witnessed firsthand the impact of SD-WAN on enterprise WAN strategies. For instance, we saw enterprises moving from a tactical focus on WAN optimization (2X benefit), to a more holistic SDN-WAN model (5x – 10x benefit). Based on our deployments with both service providers and Fortune100 enterprises, I definitely agree with Greg that SD-WAN will disrupt the WAN in 2015.