This may seem an odd title for a post by a communications equipment manufacturer whose portfolio includes a complete range of Wi-Fi products. But the truth is that the title refers to a photo that went viral of a bar sign advising customers to take advantage of the bar’s lack of connectivity and engage in good old conversation.
This is what we at Teldat were doing at the SD-WAN summit held in Paris last week where we participated as exhibitors alongside leading players (manufacturers, operators, customers and analysts) in this new technology field.
And what is clear is that, as the title says, talking (and especially listening to others) has been worthwhile to find out, in detail, the real level of development of SD-WAN technology, what it should really be offering today, and how it is perceived by operators and businesses. And the truth is that there isn’t much difference between what we have learned and what we thought.
The first conclusion we have reached, clearly stated in the keynote opening address at the conference, is that there is no single widely accepted clear definition of SD-WAN or what constitutes it. Apart from what we already know, that it is the application of software-defined concepts to the WAN (as the name suggests),nowhere is there any specific mention of the minimum characteristics or functionalities that a network must meet to be considered an SD-WAN. At least to date. As described in the keynote speech, a good SD-WAN solution will depend on the extent to which it fixes the network connectivity problems of the organization for which it is providing a service. And this is why all of the presenting manufacturers at the fair have good SD-WAN solutions. Some of them are from the security environment. Others come from acceleration. Others from routing, others are new companies with disruptive models. And each solution presented focuses on solving corporate communications problems and SD-WAN strategies differently, depending on the point of origin. And given that each company will have different needs, the best SD-WAN solution will come from the manufacturer whose strategy best suits a company’s specific needs. Clearly, the concepts of visibility, control, automation, and provision are common to all manufacturers’ offers. But, as we already know, the devil is in the detail. And the differences in interpretation and development of these concepts is where the offers differ and where customers should start searching for the solution that best suits their requirements.
The second conclusion is that, apart from technology, an important factor when evaluating the differences between the manufacturers presenting their SD-WAN strategies, has been their position on telcos. Statistics and analyst reports show a significant reduction in operators MPLS revenues and many manufacturers are building an SD-WAN strategy that bases its message to companies on being completely operator-independent, either by setting up a proprietary SD-WAN to get excellent (!) MPLS cost savings, or by setting up an over the top network, managed by third parties over operator infrastructure. Some manufacturers, however, see these two approaches as being a major operational risk that could shoot up the TCO of the infrastructure. Instead, they are opting for a carrier friendly strategy that includes the operator as a fundamental part of the solution. At the end of the day, SD-WAN technology offers significant advantages for telcos, and a combined MPLS and SD-WAN offer could potentially be very interesting for both carriers and businesses. Especially if we accept that no matter how much SD-WAN evolves, it will not mean the end of MPLS networks, at least in the medium term.
What we do agree upon, all those of us who talked, is that we are at the beginning of a technological change where there is much to be done. Almost all large companies are starting projects in this direction, and it is true to say that the needs and requirements of each company are different, as are their business models. For this reason, success for the various manufacturers will not only be about the technological quality of their offer. Other factors relating to their go-to-market strategy (like flexibility, adaptability, financing and the scalability of their offers) will be almost as important as meeting supposed standards that don’t exist. And that is why Teldat is positioned as a leading player in this new field.
Would you like to talk to us? It will certainly be worth your while.