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The benefits of SD-WAN are far reaching but with an economy in question and a pandemic which is lingering is this a market still ripe for partners to take on?

SD-WAN has been touted as the natural successor to MPLS but as we look around the globe you could be forgiven thinking that MPLS still has a future. In certain geographies telcos are looking to protect MPLS revenues and actively delaying bringing SD-WAN propositions to market. Rightly or wrongly we asked the market where this leaves the technology that promises so much?

Anthony Senter, MD of SDWAN Solutions said, “All technology has a lifespan and it seems MPLS has entered the winter of its particular lifespan; this is largely due to SD-WAN. We will see a sharp decline of MPLS adoption, likewise probably a similar decline in its price as its perceived value defaults. There is however, no getting away from the fact that MPLS has long been costly and clunky – SD-WAN offers vastly improved technology, is faster, smarter and more cost effective, and, as innovation leaders in the SD-WAN arena seek to reduce the price of SD-WAN, it will follow that more and more companies will choose SD-WAN over MPLS.

“The only blocker to that is that those companies who perhaps only relatively recently implemented MPLS may be suffering from ‘adoption fatigue’ and have their eye firmly on post-COVID crisis initiatives rather than re-teching projects. Many of our customers with hybrid MPLS and Internet SD-WAN solutions are amazed to see their traffic being sent mostly down the Internet links rather than MPLS due to better latency, even in central London. The dependence on a single provider is also removed (reference to the recent BT outage that also took down Vodafone).”

Martin Saunders, Product Director at Highlight, commented, “One technology does not replace the other, they complement each other. Th e focus for the channel should not be about the technology, but rather building their understanding about the specific needs of each customer and delivering the most suitable services.”

Whilst homeworking is a perfect fit for SD-WAN, vendors are currently racing to get their services fit for this new distributed work force. Otherwise, businesses with lots of sites are a prime target for SDWAN.

Ollie Wallington, Senior Business Development Manager, Wireless Logic added “MPLS still plays a role within SD-WAN currently. SDWAN is more of an overlay service that still relies on diff erent forms of communication (i.e. MPLS, internet, etc.), so they can still very much work in parallel together. That said, SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN, so it could perhaps in time cause a decline in the need for MPLS, as other sites use SD-WAN with a public internet connection.

“SD-WAN is ideal for distributed businesses with multi-site deployments / wide area networks that are looking to offer a secure bearer agnostic solution, including 4G, which is ideal for rapid deployment.

“We have seen larger project deployments in the likes of retail (for example, a 450-site deployment across the UK for one retailer, and a 550site deployment for another), typically where the 4G element is being used in a failover scenario or as an interim primary connection.”

What kinds of businesses are now able to take advantage of SD-WAN? Anthony Senter, MD of SDWAN Solutions commented, “Any and all, in a nutshell. It’s important to understand that just as one business model does not suit all sectors that one SD-WAN offering will not suit all businesses any better. Retail and much of the High Street hospitality sector have consumer-based requirements such as guest wifi and POS for example, whilst manufacturing have entirely different needs.

“All markets and sectors will benefit should they adopt SD-WAN technologies, how much they benefit remains dependent on the specific solution being tailored to their needs. In fact the entire SD-WAN sector will benefit reputationally from taking a tailored approach – no one likes to be considered ‘standard’, ‘average’, ‘normal’; businesses are like people and communities – each one is different and individual and must be treated as such with true and tailored SD-WAN.”