Forward Outlook: The Future of SD-WAN as an Absorbed Routing Feature

Forward Outlook: The Future of SD-WAN as an Absorbed Routing Feature

In a previous blog post on the future of software-defined IT, SD-WAN, and MPLS, I hypothesized that SD-WAN will soon be absorbed as a routing feature in broader network solutions:

“Fast forward 12 to 24 months from now and I anticipate SD-WAN will be just another integrated routing feature as opposed to the standalone device it is today. It will become yet another example of how quickly a new product transitions from experimental to a standalone product, to a feature within existing solutions.”

Masergy is a trusted provider of Managed SD-WAN solutions, so it strikes many as odd that the CTO would make this “bold” statement. After all, hybrid networking (where SD-WAN and MPLS coexist) is one of our core products and the reason why many enterprises start a conversation with our sales team. Let me explain why I believe SD-WAN’s position will eventually shift to the back seat and why Masergy stands fearless in exposing this truth.

SD-WAN and the Compression of Tech Maturity Cycles

The world is advancing at a faster and faster pace. With today’s velocity of change, new disruptive technologies are being released and adopted at accelerating speeds. This has led to technology maturity cycles becoming increasingly compressed--meaning that the adoption, maturation, and social application of new technologies now occurs in a shorter time frame. We feel that, if you study Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Networking and Communications, you will recognize that technologies are advancing through the marked phases at a faster pace. From our perspective, they’re cycling through the “peak of inflated expectations,” through the “trough of disillusionment” and through the “plateau of productivity” at more rapid speeds.

So, what does that mean for the SD-WAN landscape? In our view, it means mainstream adoption and consumption will have a hair trigger, and in the next few years SD-WAN will proliferate the industry.

We ran a quick pulse survey on Masergy’s social media websites to see if people agree that SD-WAN will soon become an integrated feature as opposed to the standalone solution it is today. The results: 86.4 percent said YES, and 13.6 percent said NO. So, there are some folks who agree.

To us, we’re already seeing the uptake rocket launch. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global states “SD-WAN is the most widely adopted of the emerging network services.” We believe that, much like the cloud now dominates software applications, delivering everything “as a service,” software defined approaches will now dominate network solutions making virtually all elements and functions software defined. With market saturation, the hype will dwindle, and SD-WAN will become absorbed as a standard feature in broader networking solutions. Many of the missing features in SD-WAN solutions today were solved in older networking technologies years ago. So, it only makes sense that as the initial SD-WAN vendors are acquired or absorbed by the larger networking solution providers, the ‘new’ features of SD-WAN and the ‘old’ features of traditional networking will merge.

The compression of technology maturity cycles will also affect SD-WAN providers. It means, companies must generate the next innovative technology at a pace faster than today’s accelerated rate of consumption. Thus, the risk of becoming obsolete in a fast-moving market will become increasingly higher.

Masergy: Beyond SD-WAN

As the CTO of Masergy, I make these predictions and claims without hesitation because our product engineers understand these dynamics, are prepared to stay ahead of the velocity of change, and are developing far beyond SD-WAN. Masergy’s solutions are doing more than simply evolving. For the second year in a row now, Masergy was named as a Visionary in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global.*

We’re driving the future of our industry. We’re exploiting iPaaS tools to help forward-leaning clients automate their complex business processes and create voice-powered enterprises. Our team is evaluating AI capabilities to explore the self-adjusting networks of our future. We are designing next-era networks that blur the lines between networking operations and security operations, creating a holistic and agile IT environment that intelligently anticipates and responds to the world around it with little human oversight. Ultimately, Masergy has powerful foresight that is bringing the digital transformation horizon closer, delivering our clients a continuous stream of IT advancements and network innovations. I invite you to envision your future with Masergy at your table.

Resources and Footnotes

Gartner, Hype Cycle for Enterprise Networking and Communications, 2017, Danellie Young, Bjarne Munch, 20 July 2017.

*Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Network Services, Global, Danellie Young, Katja Ruud, et al., 27 February 2018.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

About Tim Naramore

Chief Technology Officer, Masergy
Tim Naramore is the Chief Technology Officer of Masergy Communications and brings more than 30 years of experience in IT and telecommunications to the discussion. Tim has worked at Frito-Lay, Texas Instruments, Boeing, Allegiance Telecom and Broadwing Communications on technologies ranging from IBM mainframes to handheld computers and web applications. Tim is responsible for the IT, Network Engineering and Software Engineering groups at Masergy. He holds a bachelor's of science in information systems from Pittsburg State University.

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