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Mobile World Congress 2019Earlier this year, over one hundred thousand technology professionals met in Barcelona, Spain for Mobile World Congress 2019. MWC is always one of the most valuable events of the year for learning from and meeting with the industry’s top influencers, and this year was no different.

The mobile technology event, which took place February 25-28th, also featured innovations and news from over 2,400 leading companies. With an increasing number of businesses looking to leverage 5G, IoT and SD-WAN to build more intelligent networks, this year’s theme of “Intelligent Connectivity” seemed to fit the general buzz around MWC.

Ahead of the conference, AT&T shared a partnership with VMware to implement 5G capabilities into SD-WAN for increased network control. VMware attended the event and shared many of our recent advancements in SD-WAN as part of our partnership with AT&T. Sanjay Uppal, VP & GM of the VeloCloud business unit at VMware and Rupesh Chokshi, Assistant Vice President of AT&T even had the opportunity to share their take on how SD-WAN is driving digital transformation with MWC19 attendees.

In addition to sharing about VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud®, we were also able to gain some great feedback from attendees and learn which trends will be most important to the technology industry in 2019. Here are the biggest things we took away from MWC19 that will help drive our 2019 strategy:

 

First Phase of 5G

This was an exciting year at MWC, as it felt like the first year 5G is seeing real applications. As the 5th generation of advanced wireless systems arrives—with AT&T’s mobile 5G network leading the charge—companies are revealing products ready to take advantage of the increased speed and other capabilities. There were numerous network products ready for 5G and the industry is developing more advanced services to help companies develop 5G infrastructures.

AT&T received particular attention as the first mobile 5G network. More importantly, the week before the conference it announced its partnership with VMware to offer SD-WAN services implemented with 5G capabilities.

With the first phase of 5G already upon us, companies are starting to look ahead to the products and services that will leverage and support 5G as it becomes more widely adopted. However, it is clear the next phase could still be far off, as many companies still expect to use 4G/LTE for the bulk of traffic for the next several years.

 

Enabling Digital Transformation

With the rise of 5G and other opportunities comes the need for businesses to undergo major digital transformation to create a more agile and powerful infrastructure. One major part of digital transformation discussed at MWC was network transformation and the mindset surrounding network design. Companies must now think of the network as a service, provided by a company like AT&T, that links together cloud and virtualization functions.

The driving force of this digital transformation is a need to innovate to achieve the agility and visibility necessary to take full advantage of cloud, virtualization and IoT. Companies must therefore match their specific requirements for the applications driving its network transformation to help guide the transformation planning process.

 

Implementing SD-WAN in the Enterprise

At last year’s MWC, it seemed like the question was “What is SD-WAN?” Five years ago, the term SD-WAN didn’t even exist. This year, companies fully understand their need for SD-WAN and their goals are to find the best ways to implement it in their enterprise.

Based on discussions during the week of MWC19 and experience with clients currently using SD-WAN, the main driving forces behind this rising need are clear:

  • Agility: With companies adding additional locations and services and making more adjustments to their network through digital transformation, the demand is high for a WAN that can quickly adapt to changing needs.
  • Visibility: Network infrastructures are becoming more and more complex with the addition of more cloud applications and IoT. With IT departments already strained, SD-WAN is quickly becoming the only way enterprises can maintain a full view of their network.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): The push for digital transformation and 5G requires companies to make massive investments in IT. These companies are looking for any way to improve TCO and see a positive ROI from their network.

As part of our partnership with AT&T, VMware announced several new plans during MWC to extend our SD-WAN solutions to bundle network services, offer new deployment features and help serve new business types.

 

Edge Computing

Another major topic of discussion during the week was edge computing. With more devices and computing moving out to the edge, finding ways to better secure and power edge computing is a top priority for many companies. When done incorrectly, edge computing can overly complicate your infrastructure and cause sub-optimal traffic flow, while significantly affecting costs.

With the rise of IoT and the arrival of 5G, the network edge is becoming one of the most crucial segments of any infrastructure. Many attendees are looking at SD-WAN as a key solution to help maintain visibility of the edge and optimize edge computing. Using SD-WAN, new sites are easier to set up and maintain to help reduce costs and support network growth.

The biggest takeaway from Mobile World Congress 2019 may have been that the network has never been more relevant. Organizations are beginning to understand the ability of the network to propel  business, and networking professionals are now gaining a seat at the table. 2019 should prove to be a very exciting year for SD-WAN and digital transformation.