Top 3 Takeaways From the SD-WAN Expo, 2018

My apologies. The SD-WAN Expo at Fort Lauderdale, Florida concluded on 16th of February 2018 and I have been wanting to write this blog ever since. But the weekend following the expo and a larger part of this week has been packed with responding to the overwhelming number of queries that we received from IT leaders and CIOs.

In a good way, that reiterates the magnitude of buzz and curiosity SD-WAN has been generating in the market. And it is only fair. Almost every organization today has at least one application residing in the cloud and SD-WAN is going to be ‘THE’ solution for cloud-ready networks of the future.

Three days of understanding and demystifying the ‘future’ of networking brought hundreds of participants- SD-WAN vendors, service providers and enterprise IT decision makers, under one roof. Among the many things discussed was the state of the SD-WAN market, possible directions in which SD-WAN will evolve in the days to come and what these developments mean for the enterprises and vendors alike.

I attended a fair bit of the panel discussions and key note sessions. I also had the privilege of interacting with a number of analysts and business leaders- understanding the challenges and requirements pertaining to the network landscapes.

Here are my top key take-aways from the three-day event:

Cloud is Pushing the SD-WAN Agenda: Never in my life have I seen such a large gathering of people being unanimous about a subject. The dominance of cloud computing in the enterprise technology landscape today is inescapable.  As SaaS adoption skyrockets and multi-cloud starts becoming the new ‘normal’, most IT leaders are realizing how inadequate their existing networks are to support the new cloud driven traffic patterns.

Today, most WAN traffic, to and from branch and remote sites, is destined for the cloud, either to SaaS services or applications hosted in an IaaS environment. Irrespective of their choice of carrier, organizations want to see the responsiveness, agility and flexibility of the cloud to reflect in their networks as well.

SD-WAN brings the fundamental concepts of the cloud to the network. By software-defining the WAN, it creates a unified and simplified encrypted network fabric that is agnostic of the transport layer running beneath. SD-WAN provides the network teams a centralized console to monitor, control and change the policies and configuration that run the networks. It also enhances the data security, agility and flexibility of the network that a cloud-first enterprise demands today.

Security Emerges as Priority: With branch offices gaining direct access to business applications on the cloud, the security of enterprise data travelling through multiple tunnels and over public internet is at risk. Organizations have moved from on-premise applications behind a firewall to cloud and now even multi-cloud environments.

CIOs who choose to backhaul mission-critical data from the branch all the way back to the corporate datacentre and then to a cloud are pestered with increasing bandwidth requirement, latency and increasing application response time. Installing firewalls at each branch location and managing them is both time consuming and cost prohibitive. 

SD-WAN can inherently address some of the security challenges of an open internet. It empowers enterprises to gain end-to end visibility over the data moving across the network, micro-segment the traffic across the WAN, and apply access and security policies based on an application/user level from a centrally manged console.

Unfortunately, few SD-WAN solutions in the market include adequate security and next generation firewall functionality embedded within the solution.

IoT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI)- It’s all about the Data: Data has emerged as the new enterprise knowledge powerhouse. As billions of interconnected devices and systems start generating and transmitting data and communicating with each other, the amount of traffic across enterprise networks will grow exponentially. But procuring bandwidth and making it enterprise ready is expensive. Moreover, the key requirement for any IoT, AI or analytics project is the availability of data in real-time for organizations to derive timely actionable insights from it.

SD-WAN’s core value proposition here lies in its ability to maximize the utilization of available bandwidth/networking resources, simplify network deployment, centralized control and real-time application delivery. Moreover, as there are multiple points of data entry, security is going to be of utmost importance.

The one thing that stood out was that the understanding of what SD-WAN is and what it provides has changed dramatically. Instead of “What is SD-WAN” questions, we are now answering “How are you different, what makes you special, how secure your solution is” questions. What these dictate is that awareness is increasing, and customers are asking more specific questions.

2018 will be an interesting year to watch and experience how SD-WAN unfolds.

About Versa Networks

Founded by network industry veterans, Versa Networks is an innovative vendor in the SD-WAN and SDSecurity market. Versa’s solutions enable service providers and large enterprises to transform the WAN and branch networks to achieve unprecedented business advantages. Versa’s carrier-grade NFV software provides unmatched agility, cost savings, and flexibility, compared to traditional network hardware. The company is backed by premier venture investors Sequoia, Mayfield, Artis Ventures and Verizon Ventures.  For more information visit and follow us @versanetworks.

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