The market of new Wide Area Network (WAN) technologies is going, in the 2014-2018 period, through an accelerated maturation process, according to IDC analysts. The phenomenon is visible especially through the increase in the degree of adoption of Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions, the market niche that has been recording a sustained growth lately.

The consulting company Doyle Research estimates that, in three years, the global SD-WAN market will reach the value of 3.2 billion dollars. A similar report, “The Future of Cloud WAN”, prepared by Rayno Research, forecasts for 2020 a value of 7.5 billion USD, but the “Cloud WAN” umbrella includes both SD-WAN solutions, as well as ADC and WAN optimization solutions.

Being based on Software Defined Network (SDN) technologies, the SD-WAN solutions bring an important change in the approach of the data network problems, focusing on the performance of the applications run, simplifying the process of managing and elimination limitations imposed by the use of proprietary technologies of the network equipment. However, beyond these arguments more or less visible in a first phase, the main reason for which SD-WAN technologies are a viable option for an increasing number of organisations is that they generate immediate gains that are directly quantifiable financially.

Thus, the cost reduction is one of the main arguments of the SD-WAN solutions, which enable companies to use broadband connections more efficiently, without resorting exclusively to the MPLS protocol. The advantage of the SD-WAN solutions consists of the fact that – depending on the parameters and quality of the broadband connexions, which they monitor constantly – they can allocate the existent connections (broadband, LTE, Ethernet) dynamically, taking into account the traffic requirements of the applications run and the QoS parameters.

Thus, significant economies can be obtained both at the level of capital investments, as well as in terms of operational expenses, because a second major advantage of using SD-WAN solutions consists of the reduction of the network management effort. Router operating protocols do not react automatically to the change of certain operation parameters – such as package delays, packet loss, packet jitter, traffic congestions, etc. -, and the measurement of all these characteristics and taking measures in due time implies a significant effort in the configuration zone. SD-WAN applications automatically take over all these changes in the network parameters and – depending on the rules predefined by administrators and on the traffic needs of the applications, prioritized according to their criticality level in carrying out business activities – redistributes the traffic depending on the current network status. Thus a reduction of the complexity level is obtained, as well as an increase in the flexibility and the reaction speed, by automating processes.

Initially designed for organisations with a high geographic dispersion (or for connecting several work points, branches, subsidiaries, etc. with headquarters and/or datacentres), SD-WAN solutions started being adopted rapidly by companies that use voice and video applications over the Internet intensively, and especially by those that widely use services and solutions hosed in Cloud. SD-WAN solutions clearly prove their utility in this last case, as 75% of the companies that moved their applications and services in Cloud report that they face many difficulties in monitoring the quality and solving connectivity problems (according to the report “Network Management Megatrends 2014”, prepared by Enterprise Management Associates).

The increase in the demand for SD-WAN solutions is also visible in the large number of startups activating in this market niche, among which the most well-known are: CloudGenix, Glue Networks, Pertino, VeloCloud and Viptela. They are added to a wide range of vendors, which includes names such as: Akamai, Aryaka, Cisco Systems, Distrix, Exinda, Fatpipe, Netsocket, Riverbed Technology, Siaras, Silver Peak, Talari, Versa Networks.

From the position of leader in the SDN technology market, Cisco dominates the SD-WAN niche with the Cisco Intelligent WAN (iWAN) solution, which integrates many proprietary technologies that help optimizing and securing network traffic.

Datanet Systems, as main Cisco partner in Romania, has the skills and experience required to implement these SD-WAN solutions and to provide the benefits offered by these solutions.

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