The concept of Software Defined Networking has been around for some time. As with many of the buzzwords we hear in the tech world, we often hear a lot of hype, sometimes for long periods of time, before we see any real world, practical application of that hyped up buzz. Within the past year, Software Defined Wide Area Networking, or SD-WAN has been gaining momentum. Virtually every client running an RFP for network services is at least dipping their toe in the water and asking questions about the carriers' SD-WAN capabilities in order to evaluate whether or not there is a fit within their respective organizations. This trend is increasing as many clients are now not only asking about it, they're designing their networks around it. Exactly what SD-WAN holds for the future isn't yet 100% clear. What is clear is that it's a big part of next generation networks and enterprises need to get familiar with this new tool in their toolbox.

Up until recently, though, the technology and carrier services and their deployment models weren't exactly ready for prime time. Even today, major Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers are forging new deals with SD-WAN platform providers, establishing relationships with broadband and wireless service providers, and developing models to suit various customer needs. So the technology is ready, the carriers are increasingly ready, and the customers are getting savvy. What's driving adoption and what will the average SD-WAN deployment look like? Well, that's still unclear. We have seen organizations completely scrap their MPLS network in favor of a fully SD-WAN based on DIA links and various broadband connectivity. We've seen companies optimize their bandwidth by bringing their broadband backup connections into an always on state to leverage the additional bandwidth. We've seen companies add broadband both as a backup and to bolster primary connections. We've also seen companies leverage the ability to quickly roll out new connections either as temporary or stop gap solutions, or for lower priority connectivity while maintaining MPLS links for critical locations.

What's nice about SD-WAN is that there are no standard models and the initial rollout or experimentation can be as complex and involved as you want, or as simple as testing a link on some low cost broadband and even 4G. As clients continue to show interest in SD-WAN, we've had more occasions to explore the carriers' portfolios and approaches to the technology. Generally, their experience has been the same. Most organizations are in an exploratory stage and many are beginning their testing to determine long term viability and the SD-WAN's capacity to meet their critical and/or non-critical networking needs, third party connectivity requirements, and operational requirements (deployment, QoS, visibility, etc.). One thing is for sure, the carriers and the technology manufacturers are deeply invested in the technology and its rapid deployment, flexibility, and reliability is proving to be extremely viable, and will continue to evolve into an invaluable tool for enterprises -if not their primary connectivity of choice- very soon.

If you're rolling out new network services or looking to check the market for wide are network services, contact Source One to get help identifying and evaluating your options and choosing the best fit solution for your needs. Contact us at
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David Pastore

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