How SD-WAN will make the cloud much, much bigger


Though I no longer actively participate in it as a pioneering player in the networking space I have always kept a watchful eye on the market and I am seeing yet another disruptive force known as SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide-Area Networking) finally gaining momentum.

For starters, SD-WAN is an extension of Software-Defined Networking (SDN). As the term implies, SDN aims to automate (virtualize) various network functions that are currently touch-heavy.

Network architects talk about separating the control plane from the data plane ad nauseum but that is just the starting point. The ability to virtualize numerous network functions from a central location and thus create an abstraction layer in a manner that is custom-tailored for each enterprise – and, by extension, perhaps for each user – has been the Holy Grail of networking for years if not decades. Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corporation and a longtime proponent of all things SDN, is spot on when he states that: “SD-WAN is absolutely critical, because it is the vehicle most likely to bring true virtualization to networking. Without virtualization in the network, virtualization in the cloud or data center will never be fully realized or effective.”

The need to be connected to the mother ship is what brings the Cloud into its meaningful existence because we live and work at the edges of the Cloud. SD-WAN is not just a market but a platform as well that will eventually evolve into user-defined WAN (UD-WAN). To clarify, the term applies to enterprise users and not consumers. And the purpose of SD-WAN is to connect and fully integrate the very edges of the enterprise – be it corporate headquarters, branch/remote offices or the mobile millions. In other words, us, the users.

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