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Versa Networks 2018 Predictions: A Look Back, A Look Ahead

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Kumar Mehta, Co-Founder of and Chief Development Officer at Versa Networks

A Look Back, A Look Ahead

What a year 2017 has been for software-defined WAN. Adoption continues to soar among service providers and enterprises alike, as more companies seek to manage the increase in network traffic from cloud, mobile and analytics. In fact, IDC predicts the SD-WAN market will grow a whopping 69 percent compound annual growth rate to $8.05 billion in 2021 from $1.19 billion in 2017.

So, what did we get right in our 2017 predictions? Plenty, as it turns out. Here's a look at what we expected this year, and a few predictions for the year to come.

Looking Back: 2017 Predictions

SDN Growth

What we predicted: Software-Defined Security (SD-Security) will be the next big revenue driver for service providers already capitalizing on SD-WAN

What we saw: In 2017 we saw the direct inclusion of additional security elements to SD-WAN solutions in multiple ways. Traditional security vendors such as Fortinet began offering their security technologies as an overlay on SD-WAN networks, while SD-WAN vendors (VeloCloud is one example) increased and expanded their ecosystems to include more security partners.

Additionally, cloud-based security providers such as Zscaler enjoyed a surge in popularity, which points to a growing desire for more software-based infrastructure and the consolidation of devices to be managed. 

While SD-Security is viewed as a separate entity from SD-WAN, we also are starting to see the two merge as the market recognizes the need for security to be an integral element of SD-WAN beyond simply IPsec. Case in point are acquisitions of SD-WAN vendors including Viptela and VeloCloud into larger portfolios that have a deeper focus on security.

And, if that isn't proof enough, we also saw an uptick of the use of the term "SD-Security" this year among multiple vendors including Catbird.

SD-Branch

What we predicted: Enterprises will consolidate devices in the branch office to improve security and simplify management

What we saw: This idea was confirmed by research firms IDC and GlobalData through research papers (sponsored by Versa) that show how the branch is evolving even beyond SD-WAN. We also saw an uptick of technology vendors and solution providers bringing to market universal CPE (uCPE) solutions, which serve as the underlying foundational infrastructure to software-define the branch. As operational and orchestration tools become more mature and integrated, more uCPE solutions will be brought to market with greater force.

Virtual Deployments

What we predicted: There will be a rise in white box appliance deployments

What we saw: In 2017, the number of vendors offering virtual solutions for SD-WAN in the cloud increased dramatically, with many other vendors implementing white box (open system) strategies. We believe this will continue, as new chipsets further improve Intel-based systems and vendors continue to increase their white box strategies. Black box (closed and/or proprietary) solutions will remain on the radar, however, as they continue to be the easiest point of entry into SD-WAN for many companies, despite leading to vendor-lock-in and potentially bringing about long-term challenges of support, maintenance and flexibility.

VNF Adoption

What we predicted: VNF adoption will gain popularity among service providers

What we saw: Virtual network function (VNF) adoption has indeed increased, a fact borne out by movement in the branch office space and the ongoing shift to accommodate SD-WAN in the cloud. A recent survey by SDxCentral found 30 percent of participants believe 40 to 60 percent of their infrastructure will be based on NFV in five years, while 24 percent believe as much as 60 to 80 percent of their infrastructure in five years will be NFV-based. Most SD-WAN vendors have virtualized versions of their technology, marketed as VNFs within service provider environments.

Network Complexity

What we predicted: As the network gets more complex, SDN and SD-WAN will be leveraged to help prevent outages and vulnerabilities

What we saw: Time and time again in 2017, we saw SD-WAN acting as the safety net in multiple verticals for companies that need a solid and dynamic infrastructure for their mission-critical applications. Health care, financial services, retail ... the list goes on, as companies are realizing the myriad benefits of SD-WAN that include increased network reliability, completely automated data and compliance management and accelerated time to service with centralized, zero-touch provisioning and mass deployment capabilities.

Looking Ahead to 2018

The future looks just as bright for SD-WAN in the coming year. We continue to see growth of SD-WAN adoption at the service provider level, and greater levels of adoption at the enterprise level and among branch offices. SD-Security also will remain a technology to watch, as threats from cybercriminals and malfeasants grow ever more insidious.

Prediction: The new underlay - Software-Defined WAN

The forward progress of the software-defined market will have an impact on the traditional router/underlay market. Gartner expects the forecasted revenue for the traditional router market will decrease as much as 20 percent through 2020. Versa believes routers will evolve into a software-defined solution or even merging directly into the SD-WAN, with the SD-WAN becoming the new router moving forward. We're already seeing many traditional networking vendors and even security vendors adding SD-WAN solutions for the enterprise edge to their portfolios, as SD-WAN becomes a table-stakes approach to deliver networking for the WAN to address multi-cloud and distributed enterprises.

The traditional router market, isn't going away immediately; however, as SD-WAN gathers more speed in the enterprise, customers will start questioning the relevance of routers and other traditional approaches to networking in an increasingly software-defined environment.

Prediction: SD-WAN is making everyone a service provider

The beauty of SD-WAN is it is empowering. SD-WAN technology enables providers of complementary technologies, such as managed services providers or telecom service providers, to add data networking to their portfolio without changing their business model in the process. We expect providers of UCaaS, IoTaaS-any XaaS provider, really-increasingly will add SD-WAN capability/offerings for their customers, especially as more companies adopt technologies such as unified communications and IoT. Transport providers have already demonstrated their interest and are making the jump first, followed by boutique providers looking to adopt SD-WAN to improve their own services, not to mention offer the technology as a bundled service.

Clearly, SD-WAN is an evolutionary technology, and 2017's predictions are still coming to fruition. Eventually we will view SD-WAN as ubiquitous; until then, however, Versa Networks revels in the promise of what's to come and how we're going to get there.

Prediction: Machine Learning to begin to be seen in branch connectivity solutions

With the rise of machine learning, we predict that 2018 will see the technology integrated into branch connectivity services. Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow as prime examples of this movement. Incorporating ML into branch connectivity services will further increase automation and intelligence for branch solutions, which ultimately will drive improved infrastructures that include improved self-healing and driverless networks.

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About the Author

Kumar Mehta 

Kumar Mehta is the Co-Founder of and Chief Development Officer at Versa Networks. Kumar brings a proven track record of leading mega-projects at startups as well as publicly traded companies. His vision, work ethic, and leadership as VP of Engineering at Juniper Networks resulted in multiple blockbuster product deliveries, including the market-leading Metro and Carrier Ethernet solution, the MX series. His leadership in design, development, and delivery of differentiated solutions resulted in huge and continuing revenue streams for the company and brought Kumar the prestigious CEO Excellence Award. Prior to Juniper, Kumar held engineering management positions at Riverstone Networks and Yago Systems.

Published Thursday, November 30, 2017 7:19 AM by David Marshall
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