Riverbed stirred up the waters of the SD-WAN market very effectively with its Riverbed SteelConnect launch yesterday, showing the scope for customers to realise a myriad of networking possibilities. The session provided a host of insights, introducing application-centric networking and charting a compelling course for SD-WAN over the next 12 months.
A word or two on the product:
Riverbed SteelConnect will extend the management of enterprise WAN capabilities into the cloud and remote LANs to help enterprises meet the challenges of the cloud and mobile apps era – just as SDN has provided a response to data centres’ need for virtualisation, automation, programmability and orchestration.
The launch brought home the possibilities of unified connectivity and orchestration: companies will have game-changing workflow capabilities, however far-flung their operations or the breadth of applications they’re using. It was interesting to see the inclusion of switches, wireless access points and gateways in SteelConnect to enable this.
What also struck me was that Riverbed SteelConnect will offer huge advantages for global teams. They’ll use zero touch provisioning to set up networks across the world – after a new network is designed centrally, appliances will be plugged in at branch offices without the network manager having to jump on a plane to be there. The product will also mean scalable network capacity: customers will be able to spin up networks in different geographies, as they’re already accustomed to doing with servers.
And although some of the product releases are still to be finalised, the combination of Riverbed SteelHead WAN Optimisation and SteelConnect SD-WAN offers wider application performance management opportunities. This plots a practical way ahead for companies currently battling the stormy seas of APM and capacity issues as they utilise multiple cloud environments, try to optimise hybrid networks or expand quickly across geographies.
The SD-WAN Market:
Riverbed’s team didn’t labour the point, but the session presented clear opportunities for enterprises to make wider use of public Internet and gain greater ROI from existing MPLS network investments. IDC’s research suggests that 40-60% of traffic is now migrating from WANs. There are a number of reasons for this but a key one is that it’s becoming clear that many enterprise WANs are too costly and complex to manage.
Brad Casemore, director of research at IDC’s networking program, highlighted SD-WAN’s considerable market opportunity in the next five years – but his insights could have traditionalists looking over their shoulders right now.
His team’s research suggests that 50% of customer data is already in remote sites and with 70% of firms using SaaS, so core platforms like Microsoft Office 365 are likewise spread out.
Casemore also made the telling point that although the SD-WAN market opportunity looks modest ($200 million last year), such is cloud’s uptake that many enterprises haven’t yet realised that they’ll need SD-WAN technologies to fix things like application performance or get to grips with WAN management – or they haven’t defined the technologies they’ll need. That’s why IDC is talking about CAGRs of 93% and a $20 billion global market for SD-WAN by 2020.
All in all, Riverbed SteelConnect will set a compelling course for enterprises to get to grips with cloud impacts on the WAN – and drive networking innovations.