CSPs like Colt Technology Services are expanding their SD-WAN offerings to meet enterprises' growing demand for hybrid WAN solutions that will deliver consistent security, cost controls and reduced complexity.
Increased adoption of SD-WAN will drive revenue to $6 billion in 2020, according to IDC. That's a compound annual growth rate of 93% between 2015 and 2020, the 2016 report finds.
"Given the significant, ongoing transition to cloud-based applications and services, the enterprise WAN is under acute pressure to cost-effectively adapt and deliver new capabilities and services," says Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC in a statement. "Understanding and adapting to the needs of enterprise IT is critical to achieving success in this evolving market, both for service providers as well as for technology solution providers."
Operators will play an important part in SD-WAN's growth since they can bundle managed SD-WAN with MPLS or other transport services that enterprises already purchase from them, Mohira told Network Computing.
Meeting the need
Earlier this month Colt expanded its managed SD-WAN service to another 13 European countries, with plans to further extend the service in 2017. This stage features new routing functionality, application visibility and dynamic load balancing with virtual firewall plus extra NFV-based capabilities scheduled for the first quarter of next year.
Colt Technology Services Group Ltd (London: COLT) previously offered hybrid networking via a combination of MPLS paths and Internet access paths to connect branch sites using traditional methods such as policy-based routing, Peter Coppens, director of Network Portfolio at the CSP says in an interview. Building organically on Colt's existing platform, it applied the policy-based routing at the CPE router but the approach typically became complex, expensive and took too long to bring to market, he notes. These results are contrary to today's expectations and goals so Colt needed to revisit its approach, Coppens says.
"We have moved over to a completely new platform," he says. "It's really a step change for us. It's completely different. We now offer the capability to connect sites to MPLS or the network, both over standard Ethernet lines, let's say, and the public Internet. At the customer site, instead of putting in a closed, proprietary router like Cisco or Juniper router like we did in the past, we put a generic x86 server at the customer site," he says. "And on that generic open platform which is running Ubuntu, we put a lot of functionality which in the past used to be separate hardware boxes. So for example, we are running now routing functionality on that server. We are running virtual firewalling and load balancing so the customer's got access to the portal and in real time he can send traffic to the Internet path or the MPLS path."
Most European enterprises rely on partners -- managed or cloud service providers, typically -- to oversee their networks, meaning Colt usually targets its SD-WAN at these organizations, says Coppens. These third-party businesses proactively seek solutions that deliver agility, cost savings and centralized management, he says, and they are staffed by networking professionals who understand the technology and its capabilities. These factors should help Colt balance the line between being ahead of the technological curve without being so advanced that customers cannot find a use case, notes Coppens.
New solution, new partner
Colt sought a new partner for its new platform.
"We wanted a true open system. A lot of the current vendors are reinventing themselves. There was a level of green-washing: In the end it was their old platform with a few new tricks and that was not what we wanted," Coppens says. "It was also about time to market. A lot of [vendors], when we said 'Can you deliver now?' the answer was 'no.'"
Versa Networks , however, had the right response to both questions, according to Colt. The CSP incorporated the full software and NFV-based Versa platform for SD-WAN and SD-security including Versa FlexVNF, Versa Director and Versa Analytics.
"Versa was excited to expand our existing relationship and deployment with Colt from a vCPE-based architecture to a fully on-premises footprint where Colt could truly redesign their customers' WANs and business impact of the network to take full advantage of the combo of SD-WAN technology and an NFV-based design -- all software plus low-cost CPE, customizable functions as VNFs and much faster provisioning," Mark Weiner, chief marketing officer at Versa Networks tells the New IP Agency.
— Alison Diana, Editor, The New IP Agency. Follow her on Twitter @alisoncdiana or @The_New_IP.