Why SD-WAN is an orchestration game

To improve agility and reduce costs, the SD-WAN adoption rate among enterprises is high. SD-WAN is driving significant new investments opportunities for enterprises. According to IDC, the SD-WAN infrastructure market is expected to grow 45.8 percent in 2019 and reach USD 5.25 billion by 2023. SD-WAN managed services is projected to reach a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 48 percent in the 2018-2023 period. For service providers, this is an opportunity to expand their product portfolio and revenues through both connectivity and value-added services.

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Solution Marketing OSS

BDGS strategy

Solution Marketing OSS

Contributor (+1)

BDGS strategy

In a series of three blog posts, we discuss one of the most important technologies available today: SD-WAN. The combination of SD-WAN and 5G networks will profoundly change how enterprises leverage networking as part of their digital transformation. In this first blog post, we discuss the emerging need for orchestration in SD-WAN. In the second post, we’ll reveal learnings from multi-domain, multi-vendor SD-WAN deployments. In our third post, we’ll examine SD-WAN and orchestration: The Ericsson advantage revealing our vision for the future as SD-WAN and related services evolve.


First wave versus second wave of SD-WAN deployments

SD-WAN first came on the scene a few years ago, with initial deployments being carried out by large enterprises, such as retail and manufacturing, updating their aging edge routers in branch locations. Enterprises had the initial goal of achieving cost reduction by replacing expensive multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) links. As SD-WAN evolved, enterprises realized that the benefit did not come from replacing the underlying MPLS links, but from using it more efficiently, particularly when paired with a cheaper internet broadband link.

Communication service providers worldwide took this opportunity and started partnering with SD-WAN vendors to bring managed SD-WAN solutions into the market. The first wave of SD-WAN deployments were single vendor SD-WAN platforms deployed as single tenant solutions, either managed by the service provider or co-managed with the enterprise.

As SD-WAN revenues rose, service providers envisioned they could grow their relationship with enterprise customers. SD-WAN was becoming more of an edge computing platform and a path to value-added services. Aiming to better address enterprise needs, service providers started including in their offering universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) along with a virtual CPE, such as routing, firewall or a virtual private network (VPN). The SD-WAN solution became a virtual network function (VNF) hosted on this platform, along with other functions. The uCPE drove a new round of requirements on SD-WAN vendors.

The result? The disaggregation of this edge platform had created a multi-player ecosystem.


Today’s SD-WAN: think multi-domain

As service providers embark on the second wave of SD-WAN deployments, many have decided to take a multi-vendor approach to SD-WAN. From handling a single vendor SD-WAN solution, there is now a need to manage and orchestrate a multi-vendor SD-WAN ecosystem.

This is a worthwhile game to play. By laying the foundation to offer diverse SD-WAN vendor solutions, along with other applications, service providers can provide a comprehensive enterprise-edge solution. Such solutions must be managed effectively in order to assure superior quality of service. It’s not only necessary to orchestrate underlay and overlay networks, but also to provide full visibility of an end-to-end service.

This orchestrated ecosystem allows applications to be located on-premises or on a cloud-based platform. The cloud platform could be an enterprise private cloud, a telco cloud, or a public-cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS), like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google. The service requirements will drive the orchestrator on the decision for the best workload placement.

This new wave of SD-WAN deployments is truly a multi-domain game, not a single vendor play.  That´'s why multi-domain orchestration is essential. In the next blog post, we will discuss some of our learnings from multi-vendor and multi-domain SD-WAN orchestration deployments.


SD-WAN and 5G

A properly orchestrated platform prevents single SD-WAN supplier lock-in while expanding opportunities for revenue growth in the future. For mobile service providers, it facilitates the realization of 5G strategies for fixed wireless access (FWA). How? Well, that’s a topic for our next blog post, where we’ll delve into examples of SD-WAN orchestration at major carriers, so stay tuned!

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