SD-WAN is getting a lot of attention from a growing number of vendors, including Cisco, Talari Networks, Silver Peak, Glue Networks, Viptela, Aryaka and CloudGenix. They see SD-WAN as an alternative or complement to Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), which is how most organizations link their data centers with their remote offices. In a cloud-based world, speed is increasingly important, and connecting a branch office to the data center using MPLS is a lengthy process. Connecting it to the Internet through a central data center is inefficient.
Businesses are beginning to see the need for a new architecture.
According to analysts with IHS Infonetics Research, 45 percent of North American businesses said in a survey earlier this year that they planned to increase spending on SD-WAN over the next two years. The interest in SD-WAN mirrors a larger push for software-defined networking in the data center.
"Within the data center, raw speed with support for software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualized workloads are the top requirements for fabrics among companies participating in our enterprise data center study," Cliff Grossner, research director for data center, cloud and SDN at IHS, said in a statement when the survey results were released in May. "Meanwhile, outside the data center, SDN-led transformation is taking hold in the WAN optimization market. There's a shift from optimizing application traffic flows over a single point-to-point WAN link to automated and dynamic load balancing of application traffic over multiple link types—MPLS, broadband, internet, cellular, etc."
The increasing attention being paid to remote offices by businesses is not surprising, O'Farrell said.
"Innovation is being done in the data center, but business is being done in the branch," he said.