SDN and the Future of Networking

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Demands of innovative collaborative communications and cloud-native applications are placing tremendous pressure on legacy WANs.

• As companies virtualize more and more IT functions and migrate apps to private and public clouds, the resulting network looks very different to legacy static and hub-and-spoke network configurations.

• Corporate networks need to evolve to support greater automation, more self-serve, and better operational simplicity and agility.

• New SD-WAN services are the key to effective control and management of network traffic within disruptive technology domains; such as cloud-native migration, 5G, IoT, big data analytics, augmented reality, and machine learning.

• The new era is identified by networks being applications-led; as opposed to being connectivity-led.


A panel of industry thought leaders gathered at the Vodafone Global HQ in Newbury on October 3, 2018 to address the following questions:

• What does the future of networking look like?

• How will how SD-WANs will make an impact on corporate networks?

• What are the opportunities and challenges in the industry for SD-WAN technology?

The following blog summarizes the main insights and discussion highlights that emerged during the panel debate.

Old Making Way for the New

The majority of existing corporate WANs in use throughout the business world are based on IP/MPLS technologies. In the past several years there has been a strong desire on the part of enterprise buyers of IT and network systems to also leverage Internet VPN, in parallel with private IP VPN services, to take advantage of a far lower cost-base for non-critical corporate data traffic. Continue reading “SDN and the Future of Networking”

SD-WAN and Hybrid VPN in the Art of Digital Network Transformation

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData research reveals that an overwhelming majority – 85% of participants in a live web poll (see chart below) – view the evolution of their WAN as critical or very important to the overall digital transformation program.
  • Business outcome is the new discussion focus around WAN evolution between enterprises and their managed service provider suppliers.
  • Industry vertical segments have unique needs, and any network transformation can be built with those demands. This blog explores three verticals in greater depth: manufacturing, logistics, and services.

Current WAN implementations are falling short of business requirements. During a recent survey (Reference: GlobalData enterprise survey November 2017), research indicated that most businesses have a strong desire, indeed a near obsession, to move applications and workloads to the cloud. The virtualization of servers and other IT infrastructure are viewed with positive attitudes for achieving cost savings and agility. However the emergence of novel technologies, such as AI, IoT, 5G, and big data analytics, is placing more and more pressure on legacy WAN technologies. Thus various industry verticals highlighted the shortcoming of current WANs, and the steps being taken to evolve corporate IT and networking to the next level of agile infrastructure.

Continue reading “SD-WAN and Hybrid VPN in the Art of Digital Network Transformation”

SD-WAN Value Blog Part 2: Managed Service Provider Opportunities to Drive Value

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Setting the Scene with Research

The first of this two-part blog series can be read here: SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience TransformationJanuary 5, 2018.

In the below pie-chart (source: GlobalData Multi-Client Survey, October 2017), we asked a large pool of multinationals the following question:

Do you have a managed services provider (MSP) who helps operate your network?

74% said ‘yes’, while the remaining 26% said ‘no’.

Our conclusions for the majority 74% positive response is that this is driven by the need for an integrated portfolio of services and fast responses for adjustments, maintenance, and repairs. We understand from respondents that network complexity is a hassle that they struggle to cope with, and that with digital transformation paths this complexity is only compounded.

We also think that this 74% penetration gives MSPs an ideal platform from which to expand into existing accounts with more services. SD-WAN implementations are a great vehicle for this, with central orchestration and more deeper management functions more effective for flexible real-time changes – including technical ones to network nuts and bolts and commercially with more pay-as-you-go and ‘as-a-service’ options. This opens up opportunities for service providers to move up the value chain in various areas, including for example professional services. In the same Multi-client Survey, the following graph demonstrates the types of partners that businesses use for. Continue reading “SD-WAN Value Blog Part 2: Managed Service Provider Opportunities to Drive Value”

SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience Transformation

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN gives managed service providers opportunities to drive customer loyalty and move up the value chain.
  • Staying in one place is no longer an option in the managed WAN services segment.
  • An agile network is essential for enterprises wanting to be the champions of great customer experience within their specific segment.

Moving Up the Value Chain

SD-WAN offers managed service providers considerable opportunities to drive loyalty from clients as well as offer multiple layers of value-added products around data center and cloud, WAN acceleration, applications performance management, and firewall security. In fact, these are already table stakes in the market today. Many physical appliance-based network features and functions are increasingly becoming available as software-defined network services, in the form of more unique and BYOD-style VNFs being part of expanding menus. Continue reading “SD-WAN Value Blog, Part 1: Evolving the WAN to Drive Customer Experience Transformation”

SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Exploring the Potential Functional Benefits

Joel Stradling – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services

Summary Bullets:

• Many enterprise IT departments find their current WAN solutions unwieldy when it comes to adding, or reducing, the number of connected sites. SD-WAN solutions should provide greater agility for turning up new branch sites.

• Service orchestration and a single-pane online tool for managing circuits and path-selection for critical apps also give greater functional agility.

SD-WAN services are becoming more widely available across the globe, with large global and smaller regional service providers increasingly including various SD-WAN options from within their portfolios examples include AT&T, Masergy, Colt, CenturyLink, Tata Communications, and NTT Communications. In parallel with such activity in the operator community, there are dozens of SD-WAN platform developers in the market, such as Nuage Networks (a Nokia company), Versa Networks, VeloCloud, and Viptela. The landscape makes it confusing to understand which type of SD-WAN supplier to work with, and thus businesses need to conduct conversations with several vendors from the categories above before making a choice. One theme remains constant: enterprise clients need to understand the network transformation path they intend to take in order to achieve a robust SD-WAN overlay. IT department heads can look at the functional positives that SD-WAN may bring and line these up with requirements.
Continue reading “SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide Part 2: Exploring the Potential Functional Benefits”

SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide: A Summary of Potential Technical Benefits

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN complements dedicated IP/MPLS VPNs; it’s a case of different horses for different courses, with certain parts of the IT estate benefiting from both technologies.
  • SD-WAN services offer rapid turn-up for multiple branch sites where typically there might not be an IT technician on site.
  • SD-WAN solutions can be crafted to give cost-effective and agile support for leveraging IaaS environments, and will typically support traffic optimization and robust security.

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) services received enormous marketing attention during 2016, as various providers and operators sought to gain mindshare among their potential customer bases. As we proceed through early 2017, it is now clear that SD-WAN services can be sourced from a wide variety of company types including telcos, platform developers, hardware manufacturers, cloud providers and software developers. For the average IT manager, this has made the market landscape difficult to understand and navigate to find a solution. Continue reading “SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide: A Summary of Potential Technical Benefits”

Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) Begins to Enter the Scene in Software-defined Enterprise WANs

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

• Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) enables the customer to implement WAN circuits without requiring any manual intervention

• SD-WAN products are increasingly available from global service providers and ‘automated zero-touch deployments’ will become standard features in WAN offerings during 2016-2017

• Market disruptors such as VeloCloud and Glue Networks tout zero-touch capabilities in their SD-WAN proposals

ZTP is not a brand new concept to the IT world; it is just late to the game with respect to data networks. Server provisioning moved to virtualized models, using zero-touch and automated processes, early on in the evolution of IT; and these capabilities are now extending into data networking. For the purpose of this blog, the principles of software-defined networking are the abstraction of three planes: management, control, and data, applied to a specific enterprise WAN. Virtual network functions (VNFs) are not the primary focus of this blog. Continue reading “Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) Begins to Enter the Scene in Software-defined Enterprise WANs”

Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Google/SpaceX Satellite!

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Satellite technology advancements, including steerable beams as well as new middle Earth orbit (MEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations, can potentially benefit businesses with cost-effective, low-latency, high-speed connectivity.
  • Satellite innovation can open new enterprise-grade applications leveraging lower costs and higher performance, such as deploying satellite backup in case of terrestrial network outage and expanding target markets for cloud computing services.

Robust connectivity to the Internet worldwide remains elusive despite the aggressive efforts of pioneers such as Google and investment partner Fidelity. There are vast expanses of land and sea where the choice is between high-latency (up to one second per hop) GEO satellites, or lower-latency but very narrowband LEO or MEO constellations such as Orbcomm, Globalstar or Iridium. Continue reading “Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Google/SpaceX Satellite!”

The Impact of Embracing the Open Enterprise and Permitting BYOD on Corporate Security

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • There were numerous high-profile breaches in 2015, such as Sony and VW.
  • Breached data events have driven up the importance of enterprise ICT security, with new threats emerging as more companies allow end users to bring their own handhelds and use their own apps.
  • There is a growing focus on threat intelligence.

The enterprise segment is evolving towards an ‘open enterprise’ environment, whereby the staff are able to use their own mobile handsets and leverage whichever apps they choose to do business. The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) environment opens new chinks for cyber-criminals to try to exploit, which in turn drives the company security officer to seek better methods for securing the integrity of corporate data. The increasing number of security incidents in 2015 is driving demand for security services, with a corresponding jump in allocations of ICT security spend. Continue reading “The Impact of Embracing the Open Enterprise and Permitting BYOD on Corporate Security”

Challenges and Opportunities for the Enterprise Embracing BYOD and Flexible Office Policies

Joel Stradling
Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Our research indicates that two-thirds of business use personally owned mobile devices for doing business.
  • Working remotely can have some downsides, such as insufficient bandwidth for running a video or VoIP conference.

There are more and more examples of companies that are open to their employees using their own personal handhelds and whichever apps they might choose to conduct business. This might even be a key criterion for budding new recruits considering which company to join, so the IT department has to adapt and loosen some rules to attract the best flip-flop and shorts-wearing talent. Continue reading “Challenges and Opportunities for the Enterprise Embracing BYOD and Flexible Office Policies”