SD-WAN Gets (More) Real for Service Providers
Interest in Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN), which is designed to offer enterprises cohesive end-to-end visibility and control of their multi-site WAN, continues to grow. Although SD-WAN was originally envisioned to give enterprises a ‘DIY’ approach to WAN management, most industry analysts and experts agree that managed SD-WAN services are the predominant consumption model for enterprises today, and into the foreseeable future.
The trend toward managed SD-WAN services is good news for service providers, many of which were initially cautious that SD-WAN might reduce their revenues and/or weaken their relationships with key business customers. To the contrary, SD-WAN services have emerged as a rapidly growing new source of revenues, as well as one that offers service providers new opportunities to improve the customer experience.
While Blue Planet isn’t inherently an SD-WAN solution, the deployment of SD-WAN services is one of Blue Planet’s biggest drivers and most common use cases. In fact, 3 of the “top 8” SD-WAN service providers are currently using Blue Planet to support their SD-WAN services.
I’ve been following the SD-WAN movement closely since nearly the beginning, and have been pleased to see some recent developments that signal the increasing maturity of SD-WAN services:
- Vertical Systems, a market research firm, recently began publishing a leaderboard for the top providers of Carrier Managed SD-WAN Services, indicating that they represent a substantial and hotly contested market
- The MEF is close to finalizing an SD-WAN Services Standard, which will streamline the ability for service providers to use multiple SD-WAN vendors, as well as help the ecosystem align on common terminology, much like they did in the early days of Carrier Ethernet
- Lastly, leading SD-WAN vendors like Versa Networks, VeloCloud (part of VMware), Nuage (part of Nokia), Silver Peak and others are continuing down the road of packaging their solutions as Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), rather than physical appliances, which improves agility for service providers, and ultimately expands SD-WAN use cases and flexibility
SD-WAN Use Case: Managed Hybrid/Internet WAN, highlighting the role of Lifecycle Service Orchestration – Source MEF and Blue Planet
Without a doubt, SD-WAN services are becoming more established and accepted. And while Blue Planet isn’t inherently an SD-WAN solution, the deployment of SD-WAN services is one of Blue Planet’s biggest drivers and most common use cases.
In fact, 3 of the “top 8” service providers listed in Vertical Systems’ Leaderboard linked above are currently using Blue Planet to support their SD-WAN services. Why is Blue Planet a key part of these successful SD-WAN service deployments? The reasons for this are straightforward:
- SD-WAN services aim to make things simpler for enterprises, but the service provider’s backend processes for fulfilling, activating and assuring SD-WAN services typically involve multiple systems, and can be quite complex and manual. Blue Planet helps streamline these operational processes through intelligent automation.
- SD-WAN services involve both overlay and underlay networks, typically from a variety of different hardware and software vendors. Gaining end-to-end visibility in this multi-domain and multi-vendor environment is critically important for service providers, but also especially challenging. Blue Planet can help in this area by presenting service providers an accurate, real-time view of SD-WAN service and network resources to enable the dynamic and ubiquitous control that it requires.
As SD-WAN gets more real for service providers, I’ve also seen that SD-WAN services are viewed as a stepping stone to the next generation of services that will leverage a multi-cloud environment, and ultimately a distributed edge compute/cloud architecture. If you’re looking at deploying SD-WAN services, I’d encourage you to engage with the Blue Planet team to see how we can help you accelerate your journey to an automated, adaptive network.