A quartet of potential benefits is attracting enterprises to SD-WAN technology, according to a study by IDC.

The study found that bandwidth optimization (at 36%), consistent application security (31%), integration with existing WANs (28%) and improved automation and self-provisioning (also 28%) were seen as motivators by survey respondents.

SD-WANs are network overlays that are the latest application of the virtualization that is transforming the telecommunications and enterprise IT industries. Legacy WANs knit geographically disperse locations to each other and the cloud using technologies such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), which is a secure but comparatively expensive approach.

SD-WAN Benefits
SD-WANs enable network operators – or end users, working through portals – to employ less expensive Internet-based broadband connections for less mission-critical data. Thus, sales receipts and proprietary plans can travel on MPLS and cafeteria menus on broadband.

“Given the affinity towards leveraging broadband for enhanced capacity across enterprise sites, in parallel with the proliferation of cloud-based applications and services, the enterprise WAN is being rapidly re-architected to cost-effectively deliver new, secure capabilities,” said Rohit Mehra, IDC’s Vice President of Network Infrastructure in a press release. “Understanding and adapting current WAN network and security solutions across the emerging connectivity and application landscape is going to be a key ingredient for success as this market transforms in key geographies and across the service and solution provider domains.”

Additional findings from the study:

  • Faster deployment, operational efficiency, and reduced complexity for IT also scored high as motivational factors for enterprises considering SD-WAN deployments.
  • Key SD-WAN components include: WAN optimization; application and network security; application policy-based path selection; integrated routing; and application visibility.
  • Top SD-WAN use cases include: ability to simplify WAN infrastructure; use multiple WAN providers; and use broadband to off-load non-critical business apps.
  • While SD-WAN is being embraced across major geographies, its use cases and deployment scenarios across the top 2 IT markets – the United States and China – are quite a study in contrasts.

The interest in SD-WANs is intense. For instance, Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said earlier this month that SD-WANs constitute 20% of the company’s gross sales to enterprises despite being launched relatively recently. Thomas said that Windstream’s SD-WAN initiative is “the most successful launch I’ve ever been a part of.”