10 hot SD-WAN startups to watch

The SD-WAN market is hot, with all of the usual networking suspects (Cisco, VMware, AT&T, Citrix, etc.) staking a claim. But make no mistake, this is a market sector that was built, defined, and refined by startups.

A few early movers have already been taken off the table, snatched up by incumbents seeking to modernize their networking portfolios: Cisco acquired Viptela for $610 million; VMware bought VeloCloud for an estimated $449 million; NTT purchased Virtela for $525 million, and Riverbed, which was a leader in the precursor WAN optimization space, acquired Ocedo (price undisclosed) to help it manage its transition to a software-defined future.

Personally, I regard this market sector as a land grab still. Moving branch and overseas offices away from box-heavy, labor-intensive MPLS/VPN infrastructure to software-defined networking is itself a massive undertaking, but when you add in the many cloud, mobile, and rich-media apps invading the enterprise, it’s no surprise that IDC expects the SD-WAN market to reach $8 billion by 2021.

According to research firm IHS Markit, the current SD-WAN market leaders are VMware (VeloCloud), Aryaka (founded in 2009; still private), Silver Peak (founded in 2004; still private), and Cisco (Viptela).

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