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SD-WAN Still All the Rage

As enterprises look to kick-start their digital transformation strategies, many have adopted software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) to solve a myriad of issues associated with carrying real-time communications traffic across the wide area.
By evaluating traffic patterns and choosing the most efficient path in real-time, SD-WAN tackles two problems that can plague a UC service– loss and latency. Also, with its promise of network flexibility, simplified management, and built-in and add-on security, SD-WAN seems like a no-brainer for many enterprises.
Avant Reports on SD-WAN
As noted in a report published last week, market research firm Avant Analytics noted that the average share of broadband traffic carried across an SD-WAN network was about 63% in 2018 and rose to 70% in 2019. Enterprises are adopting SD-WAN for a variety of reasons, including auto-failover and redundancy (66.8%), simplified management (61%), and cost savings over Multi-Protocol Label Switching (57.7%), according to Avant. But enterprises aren't simply ditching their MPLS networks in favor of SD-WAN; of enterprises with more than $1 billion in revenue surveyed, 53% are still planning to invest in MPLS, Avant said.
However, SD-WAN adoption doesn’t come without difficulties. “While SD-WAN adoption is booming, selecting the proper solution is a complex task. Organizations must take the time to evaluate the applications they will need to support, as well as the security and geographic needs that must be met,” said Ian Kieninger, CEO and co-founder, Avant.
As we’ve learned in discussing SD-WAN as part of our Enterprise Connect program planning, figuring out what’s what can be difficult. That’s because some SD-WAN vendors tout their networking capabilities while others focus on security first, or performance. In order to select the best solution for your enterprise, you have to understand what each vendor offers and how to compare one product or approach to another.
Complicating an already complex situation, providers are responding to increased enterprise interest in SD-WAN by bolstering their strategies around the technology. For example, SD-WAN factored into announcements last week from Verizon, NEC, and Masergy.
Verizon’s Global VoIP, Powered by SD-WAN
As part of a group of enhancements, Verizon announced that it’s now offering its Virtual Communications Express (VCE) service previously available as a hosted offering for use with its own VoIP service. This means enterprise customers will also gain the benefits of the Verizon SD-WAN offering.
With the SD- WAN capabilities, VCE customers will be better able to use network resources in support of their communications services. As a result, customers should see improved performance and greater resiliency, along with better capacity prioritization, Verizon said. Additionally, the VoIP service will allow enterprises using VCE to share trunk capacity across their sites and make long-distance calls to any Verizon Wireless device or call other Verizon VoIP users.
“Collaboration capabilities are vital” to drive business, and Verizon looks to take collaboration to the next level with the enhanced VCE platform, VoIP, and SD-WAN, said Alla Reznik, executive director of customer experience, global products and services, Verizon, in a prepared statement.
NEC, Infovista Partner Up
In the vein of improving UC performance among enterprise sites with SD-WAN, communications and networking provider NEC announced a global partnership with network and application performance provider Infovista. Through this partnership, NEC will offer Infovista’s Ipanema SD-WAN technology with its on-premises UC-SDN solution, which is part of its Smart Enterprise Suite.
Using the Ipanema SD-WAN equipment, customers should be able to reduce costs related to WAN connectivity and enable prioritization of specific UC sessions across the LAN and WAN infrastructure, NEC said. Additionally, the NEC/Infovista offering supports NEC’s Univerge call flows and provides application intelligence to a range of application suites, including biometrics and video flows, NEC said.
“UC-using enterprises are adopting SD-WAN due to its capability to steer high-priority voice traffic over the most cost-effective WAN links, with good voice quality. This functionality is an important deployment driver for UC-using enterprises as they can increase the reliability of voice,” said Joshua Bancroft, senior research analyst at IHS Markit, now a part of Informa Tech, in a prepared statement.
The enhanced NEC/Infovista offering is generally available.
Optimizing With Masergy AIOps
AI has been the talk across the UC spectrum from speech technologies to meeting schedulers, so it was only natural for SD-WAN to catch the AI bug. Managed SD-WAN service provider Masergy introduced Masergy AIOps, an integrated AI-based digital assistant for network, security, and application optimization for its SD-WAN, networking (MPLS), managed routers, and security services.
From their customer portals, AIOps network users will now receive alerts and recommendations on how to enhance app performance, predict bandwidth needs, and optimize multicloud environments — regardless of whether the apps are traversing private networks or the Internet, as Chris MacFarland, executive chairman and CTO, Masergy, wrote in a blog on this announcement.
He explained: “Acting as a virtual assistant, Masergy AIOps analyzes how the network, application performance, and security are impacted by different events including various configurations and utilizations. The system then makes recommendations to enhance application performance, predict bandwidth needs and optimize network throughput based on anomaly detection and predictive analytics.”
With the launch of the AIOps, he added, Masergy moves closer to its vision of delivering “a fully autonomous [network for] global enterprises.”.
With their promises of increasing uptime, reducing time to recovery, and easing network troubleshooting, automation solutions such as AIOps are delivering value to IT, said John Burke, CIO and principal research analyst at Nemertes, in a prepared statement. Perhaps that’s one reason Nemertes has seen a sharp increase in enterprise adoption of managed SD-WAN services, as Burke noted.
Nemertes research shows use of managed SD-WAN can deliver up to 20% reduction in WAN staff time, Burke shared. In addition, Nemertes data shows a 26% reduction in branch WAN staff than in do-it-yourself deployments.