Demand for SD-WAN surged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses scrambled to keep work moving as they shifted from decentralized, data center-based networks to distributed networks where applications and their users could be almost anywhere. Enterprises and their employees have seen the benefits of this new way of working, and they’re ready to embrace the existing and emerging technologies that underpin it.
In their Frost Radar™ report on the SD-WAN market, the research team at global analyst firm Frost & Sullivan outlined several strategic imperatives that are defining the SD-WAN market. They also interviewed vendors and compiled research to generate a forecast for revenue estimates for the SD-WAN market. Finally, they identified the leading vendors that customers should consider first – choosing VMware SD-WAN as the growth leader.
“VMware is the Radar™ Growth Index leader because of the completeness of its offering. VMware’s revenue and sites deployed are unmatched. The company’s SD-WAN gateways offer a superior alternative to traditional WAN deployments for customers looking to connect to clouds in an optimized and secure manner. The gateway approach combined with strong security features integration enables the company to adapt quickly to providing SASE solutions.”Frost Radar: Global SD-WAN Vendor Market, 2021
Strategic imperatives driving the SD-WAN market
Frost & Sullivan described the reasons behind the growth of SD-WAN and its convergence with security services to form secure access service edge, or SASE.
- Businesses are embracing SD-WAN for remote workers because of its technical benefits. SD-WAN can prioritize business traffic over other traffic such as streaming media, monitor and correct packet loss and delay, and throttle less important application traffic.
- The rise of SASE is taking security services out of the data center and placing them in distributed SASE points of presence (PoPs), for faster access and a better end user experience. Critical security technologies such as zero trust network access (ZTNA) and secure web gateway are cloud-based for optimal access. Frost & Sullivan also suggests that a hybrid model combining on-premises and cloud-based networking and security is “… more ideal to address businesses’ needs.” A SASE solution is more of a spectrum, which should have an on-prem anchor and some cloud elements, and it should be able to slide between the two.”
- Hybrid cloud and multi-cloud will continue to drive SD-WAN demand. The report cites adoption trend numbers for cloud deployments including public cloud infrastructure as-a-service (IaaS) and hosted private cloud, noting that many SD-WAN vendors are optimizing cloud connectivity through integrations with the major hyperscalers.
- In the 2021 Frost & Sullivan Global WAN Virtualization Trends survey of IT decision makers, virtual network services ranked as the third most important technology trend over the next 24 months. The Frost Radar report notes that it can be challenging to balance the cost vs. throughput vs. features of a universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) approach, but this approach allows customers to phase in their use of virtual network functions (VNFs).
- Edge compute and 5G are addressing the need for faster processing and connectivity at the edge. Massive amounts of data generated at the edge require more computing power closer to the endpoints for use cases such as traffic control, factory robotics, or medical devices in hospitals. SD-WAN will connect edge compute nodes using 5G network slicing and take advantage of 5G’s connection density, with the ability to support up to 1 million devices such as IoT sensors.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are leading toward a self-healing WAN. These tools diagnose and even predict network problems, suggest fixes, and are becoming sophisticated enough to perform some fixes without manual intervention. The report calls out VMware Edge Network Intelligence as a vendor-agnostic AI and ML solution, with the capability to not only diagnose problems in enterprise networks but also extend its reach to home Wi-Fi networks to determine the source of home-based employees’ connection problems – ultimately leading to a richer and more productive end user experience.
SD-WAN growth and revenue forecast
Frost & Sullivan research estimates that global SD-WAN vendor market revenue exceeded $1.5 billion in 2020. While the pandemic dented IT spending overall in 2020, the firm expects SD-WAN to emerge as a top choice for enterprise networking, especially as a managed service. While SD-WAN vendors are focused on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud connectivity, enterprises’ focus remains network and application security.
“VMware continues to lead the global SD-WAN market in terms of deployed sites and revenue. The company has consistently ranked as the market leader (based on revenues) in Frost & Sullivan’s global SD-WAN vendor research since 2017.”Frost Radar: Global SD-WAN Vendor Market, 2021
Many vendors are pitching a SASE framework to solve for these concerns. But the report cautions against “getting swayed by buzzwords” in the increasingly competitive SD-WAN and SASE market.
Download Frost Radar™: Global SD-WAN Vendor Market, 2021 today to learn more.