There’s a lot of activity around SD-WAN lately, both among startups and incumbents. Case in point, at Network Field Day 10 this August, three of the presenting companies talked about their new or forthcoming SD-WAN offerings.
Then there are a host of startups raking in tens of millions of dollars in venture capital. For example, six SD-WAN startups have received a combined total of $181 million in venture capital according to funding details on Crunchbase.com (see table below).
All this investment in product development and venture capital wouldn’t happen unless there was the potential for a significant payoff. So I spent some time poking around on the Internet to find out just what kind of market these vendors are chasing.
The first thing I learned is that there aren’t a lot of market projections on SD-WAN, at least that I could find. Of the ones I found, three are locked behind paywalls. I didn’t spend any money to unlock them, so the following numbers come from summaries.
Finally, the numbers are all over the place, and none of the report summaries break out SD-WAN as separate from WAN optimization—all the figures are lumped together.
Here’s what I’ve found so far based on report summaries:
$3.2 Billion by 2018
This number comes from a report by Doyle Research that was sponsored by Silver Peak, and is available for free. As mentioned, the report combines both WAN optimization and SD-WAN in its tally.
$7.5 Billion by 2020
Rayno Research has a for-pay report, The Future of Cloud WAN, that looks at how the cloud and SDN/NFV are transforming the WAN market. As with other report previews, the $7.5 billion tally is a bundle of multiple WAN markets, including optimization, ADC and SD-WAN.
$12.1 Billion by 2019
This report from Markets and Markets (also behind a paywall) only addresses WAN optimization; it doesn’t mention SD-WAN. I’m including it as a point of comparison, as the other reports cited above combine both WAN optimization and SD-WAN in a single figure.
I also found a link to a for-pay IDC report on the global WAN optimization market, but it didn’t provide any figures in the summary. This report cites a 2015 decline in the WAN optimization market, though it does cite the potential of SD-WAN to “enhance and extend product capabilities.”
SD-WAN, We Hardly Knew Ye
With a spread ranging from $3.2 billion to $12.1 billion, one conclusion I can draw is that the size of the SD-WAN market is anybody’s guess.
Everyone in the industry I talk to has a gut feeling that a market exists because there’s a pent-up demand to simplify provisioning, take advantage of multiple connectivity options, get a better handle on actual traffic, and drive down costs.
But gut feelings aren’t very satisfying. I’m sure there must be reliable numbers out there. If you’ve got data points to share, I’d love to get feedback on where this market is going.
On the other hand, it’s possible SD-WAN won’t exist as a standalone market category in the near future anyway. You’ll buy a box (or a virtual instance) from a vendor, stand it up in your branches, and then select from a menu of services, including all the goodies we currently label ‘SD-WAN.’
So maybe instead of numbers, what we really need is a new category name.
Table: A Selection of SD-WAN Startups and VC Investment
|Company||Investment to Date||Rounds|
|Talari Networks||$45.1 million||6|
|Glue Networks||$18.5 million||3|