Sprint is the latest carrier to unveil plans to offer software-defined WAN services, partnering with VeloCloud on an effort that will launch early next year.
Officials with the telecommunications giant said Sprint will get customer trials for the SD-WAN services under way later this year as the company moves to help organizations migrate their businesses to all-IP networks and embrace the cloud.
"Sprint SD-WAN will transform the way our business customers use their networks," Mike Fitz, vice president of the carrier's Global Wireline business unit, said in a statement. "SD-WAN enables enterprises to lower their network costs while dynamically supporting converged services such as [Session Initiation Protocol] trunking, cloud services and hosted applications."
Sprint is the latest telco to bring SD-WAN to their portfolios of business services. Most recently, AT&T officials last week announced its push into the SD-WAN space with the help of VeloCloud, one of a number of pure-play vendors that are competing in the fast-growing and crowded SD-WAN market.
Verizon is partnering with both Cisco Systems and Viptela on SD-WAN services, while Earthlink and MetTel are collaborating with VeloCloud and BT Group is working with Cisco. CenturyLink also is offering SD-WAN services.
Enterprises traditionally have relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) and other transport modes when data was relatively static and traffic primarily traveled between the remote office and the central data center. However, in a more cloud-centric world, applications and workloads now move between the branch office and the cloud, and data can come from an array of mobile devices. SD-WAN offers the ability to run traffic over multiple modes, including expensive MPLS and more affordable, newer alternatives, and to manage it all centrally with such features as zero-touch and traffic prioritization. The network can automatically determine the best transport mode for running traffic.
Organizations are looking to make their network infrastructures more agile, faster, secure and affordable.
The SD-WAN market is growing fast, with IDC analysts forecasting it to grow from $225 million last year to more than $6 billion by 2020. Such demand has resulted in a growing list of vendors competing in the space, from established companies, such as Cisco, Riverbed Technology and Citrix Systems, to smaller vendors like VeloCloud, Talari Networks, Silver Peak Systems, Versa Networks and Glue Networks.
Sprint earlier this year created its Global Wireline business unit to help business customers move to an all-IP global network. Through the use of the SD-WAN services, increasingly distributed organizations will be able to take advantage of greater automation in their networks, better performance and more visibility, officials said.
Customers will have various connectivity options, from Sprint's existing MPLS to broadband internet. In addition, they'll be able to use broadband from other providers, with Sprint managing their SD-WAN services across multiple transport vendors, Sprint officials said. The carrier also is integrating security into its SD-WAN offering to protect sites and endpoints against viruses, malware and internet threats.
Businesses also will get a choice of management tiers to decide which level of support they want, including a solution fully managed by Sprint.
"As Sprint continues to evolve its suite of cloud-based solutions, SD-WAN will enable our business customers to rapidly deploy these emerging technologies while maintaining their existing infrastructure investments," the carrier's Fitz said.