Several of my blogs over the past year have been focused on wide area networks (WAN), whether it's managing your budget, technology trends, or SD-WAN adoption. Those responsible for their company's corporate WAN are keenly aware of how quickly technology changes and how difficult it can be to keep up with. And while the ever-changing nature of the telecommunications and information technology world is always top of mind, it's worth highlighting just how blazing fast things are moving in the WAN space not only from a technology standpoint but also within the marketplace and how carriers are structuring their services and contracts. The driving force behind these fast pace changes is SDN and SD-WAN adoption.

SDN and SD-WAN are not new, per se, but their influence has been tangible over the past 6 to 12 months. We've seen carriers and hardware manufacturers alike scrambling for their piece of the pie, punctuated for example by Cisco's recent acquisition of Viptella. The sheer confidence and urgency of suppliers that they need to be on the bleeding edge of SDN offerings is driven by the ease of adoption and the strong promises that come with the technology. Lower cost transport? Easier access to cloud-based services? Better performance, control, and redundancy? Check, check, and check! What's not to love? -virtually every enterprise has some requirement that could be fulfilled potentially more effectively and almost certainly at a lower cost by an SDN solution.

The carriers and hardware manufacturers see this as an obvious threat to their core WAN services, MPLS offerings. Of course, the changing technology also represents an opportunity for them and we'll have to wait to see who garners the most success in the space. Irrespective, right now we're seeing carriers with more proactive management of their MPLS agreements and spend including aggressive renewal offers and RFP responses. They see the writing on the wall and recognize the criticality of maintaining control over the majority of connectivity within their existing customer base in order to insulate themselves from competitors and the alternate technology option SDN represents, but also to allow themselves time to bring the value add of their own offering to bear. What that means for customers is that they have opportunities to reduce cost for existing services, but also great opportunities to leverage these threats in their sourcing and negotiation efforts.

As we work with clients to design and source their next generation networks we're keeping all options in mind. Again, things are moving fast, faster than usual, really so it's necessary to keep a finger constantly on the pulse of the market and new and emerging technology. Taking into account market and tech trends and making a 3+ year plan can certainly be daunting, specifically if you're playing catch up in today's fast paced environment. Source One can help inform your decision making process and help you optimize your network, spend, and supplier relationships. For more information, visit
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David Pastore

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