Has SD-WAN Killed MPLS?

Maybe not entirely, but SD-WAN has certainly reduced its relevance significantly.  Let’s talk numbers. International research firm IDC predicts a $10 billion market cap in 2020 coming off of a 90% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).  Perhaps what is even more interesting, is that most analysts would argue that this net new $10Bil SD-WAN revenue will erode roughly 2.5x that in MPLS Revenue.

But Why?  Why is This Technology More Relevant?

Mobility and cloud applications have changed the way that users interact with their company’s network. With traditional networking topology (routers and protocols) IT has a hard time keeping up with the new consumption model. The high cost of traditional MPLS networks, the need to be agile and lean at the branch, and the cloud being the new normal are forcing a radical change in network architecture.  Couple that with the fact that customers are highly motivated by the idea of WAN FREEDOM and you quickly understand why CloudGenix’s #AppFabric is a highly disruptive technology.

Most of the Sales Partners that we speak with are concerned – They may or may not like this, “new normal”, but almost all of them are concerned about the speed of the transition.  Their books are largely built on high revenue MPLS customers being pressured daily by commodity direct Internet access and broadband products. Some are resistant, but many of these partners have embraced the natural progression to the cloud and built nice portfolios leveraging a variety of cloud and SaaS providers to make up for some of that revenue downturn while getting deeper with their customers. For these partners, SD-WAN is a way to continue the push to become a trusted advisor in the next frontier of networking technology providing value over a longer period of time. SD-WAN is an enhancement to the technology solutions they are selling and enables the customer to realize the ROI on previously deployed solutions enhancing the partner’s value.  Simply put, this isn’t a “speeds and feeds” game anymore.  SD-WAN allows customers to break the chains that their service providers have traditionally had on them.  SD-WAN gives the partner the ability to free their customers from rigid MPLS services and contract terms and pull in best of breed service providers on a site by site basis increasing capacity and reducing costs.

Solution providers who want to capitalize on this opportunity need to start by talking to their customers about specific applications they use, what their day to day looks like, and how they interact with their customers. The conversation just can’t be about access and pricing anymore. In other words, building a complete solution with SD-WAN being the backbone, that is, taking a new approach to connectivity aimed at reducing connectivity costs and improving resource utilization. Talk to network administrators about enabling them to be more proactive; talk to them about providing them visibility and application level metrics to use their bandwidth more efficiently and guarantee the highest level of application performance for their users. They want to hear about how SD-WAN can do that.

I guess that it boils down to this…you have to change the discussion. Helping a customer choose connectivity is only part of the battle. Sales partners need to deliver comprehensive solutions to be relevant and that requires a richer dialog around business use cases and cloud adoption.  For the agent community, the conversation is changing and there is significant opportunity for those willing to adapt and embrace what is certain to be a paradigm shift in how wide area networks are designed and built.