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Cradlepoint 2018 Predictions: 4 Predictions for the Software-Defined WAN in 2018

VMblog Predictions 2018

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

Contributed by Todd Krautkremer, CMO, Cradlepoint

4 Predictions for the Software-Defined WAN in 2018

2018 is shaping up to be the Year of WAN Transformation. Rapidly evolving market forces and relentless innovation is shifting Digital Transformation into high gear and driving mass adoption of cloud, mobility and IoT within business of all size and across many industries. All of these changes are stretching legacy WAN infrastructures to their breaking-point in terms of volume, velocity and variety of connected endpoints - from fixed and temporary branch sites to legions of field workers and an ever-expanding universe of things (vehicles, kiosks, cameras, sensors, actuators, meters, beacons, etc.).

Here are some of my WAN predictions as we head into 2018.

1. SD-WAN Will Get Bigger, And Smaller

Making the WAN more agile and cloud-like is essential to enabling Digital Transformation, which is what's fueling the rapid assentation of SD-WAN. IDC is pegging its growth at 69% CAGR through 2021. At the same time, the wave of early market consolidation - that started with Pertino being acquired by Cradlepoint in 2016 and Viptela going to Cisco and VeloCloud to VMware in 2017 - will not abate in 2018. Expect more "big company eats innovative startup" consolidation and probably a few players that were late out of the gate and lack a differentiated market position throwing in the towel. 

Additionally, we will see the SD-WAN market evolve into three types of solution approaches in 2018:

  • The consolidated edge will focus on virtualizing and simplifying the WAN edge infrastructure within full site branch networks that consolidate multiple functions and hardware appliances (WAN + LAN + WiFi), policy and security domains and management systems.
  • The unified edge, which goes beyond the branch to extend the value of software-defined and cloud-delivered access to all WAN endpoints, including fixed, mobile and M2M/IoT.
  • The thin edge in which all wired and wireless last mile WAN connections are backhauled to vendor's or carrier's NFV points-of-presence, with or without lightweight traffic steering at the edge.

And as enterprise IoT takes hold both in the field and branch, the software-defined perimeter will rise as a companion SDN architecture to SD-WAN.

2. Gigabit LTE Signals the Beginning of the Wireless WAN

Let me ask you: when was the last time you plugged into an Ethernet switch port? If you're like me, you are still struggling to answer that question. The reason is because WiFi is practical (no cables to run), pervasive (I'm typing this post from my favorite bar in Boise) and performant (802.11ac supports multi-station gigabit throughput).

Wouldn't it be great if these same WiFi attributes applied to the WAN? Well, the wait will soon be over. 2018 will go down in history as the beginning of the wireless WAN movement. The year the industry will start to "cut the circuit" and adopt high-speed LTE services as a precursor to true 5G. Already in some markets today, Gigabit LTE will be deployed nationwide in 2018 by several top-tier cellular carriers and offer greater throughput and availability than MPLS and even cable connections.

As a bonus prediction, true 5G services will advance from proof-of-concept trials into commercial availability in 2018 with low-latency, gigabit fixed wireless services being the first major use case. 

3. Shadow IoT Will Become a Thing

The same trend that drove adoption of the iPhone and Dropbox into the enterprise will drive adoption of consumer-grade IoT devices into the enterprise in2018. Think of it as "Shadow IoT". Yep, I just coined a new term that will be all the rage next year. Most of these "under the IT radar" deployments will be in the form of physical and video security and location-oriented devices, but their adoption could have disastrous implications on network security. 

Given the vulnerabilities created by consumer-grade devices in the network, IT organizations should consider software-defined perimeter technologies to control access and isolate IoT devices from other network traffic.

4. Edge Computing Will Redefine The WAN Edge

As the volume of data from IoT-generated traffic surges to more than 600 ZBs by 2020, it will create a tidal wave of machine data flowing across the enterprise WANs from endpoints to cloud. Not all of this data is worthy of transporting to and processing and storing in the cloud. In fact, in some IoT applications, very little of it is. This growing data economy will start to redefine the WAN edge in 2018 to include edge computing capabilities that can parse, process and normalize data, reducing the deluge that gets transmitted, processed and stored in the cloud.

As we enter 2018, the enterprise WAN will never be the same as Digital Transformation will lead to a more pervasive, wireless, software-defined and data-savvy WAN.  So let's mix things up this New Year and sing about "Auld WAN Syne"!


About the Author

todd krautkremer 

Todd Krautkremer is the CMO at Cradlepoint.Todd brings to Cradlepoint over 25 years of tech executive experience within startup, early and growth stage companies and spanning wired and wireless networking, security and cloud technologies. Prior to Cradlepoint, he was CMO at Pertino (acquired by Cradlepoint in 2015), a pioneer in software-defined cloud networking. Previous roles include COO at Red Lambda; CEO at Gearworks (acquired), where he was nominated for EY Entrepreneur of The Year; VP of Worldwide Marketing at Packeteer (IPO, acquired); and VP of Marketing at Sync Research (IPO, acquired).  

Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018 7:21 AM by David Marshall
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