SD-WAN will define networking in 2019

Wayne Mason EMEA Head of Vendor Management, at Westcon

Wayne Mason, Sales Director Advanced Networking at Nuvias explains why networks increasingly underpin business performance and what to look out for in 2019

There will be no prizes for predicting that the network will remain critical in 2019, as connectivity demands skyrocket and the volume of data crossing back and forth grows exponentially. As companies increasingly drive forward with digital transformation strategies, embrace the cloud and harness new data-hungry business applications, they need trust in their networks more than ever.

But as well as building in strong resilience, reliability and security, organisations need to make sure they get the best performance out of their existing and new networks. This means more focus on technologies that provide visibility and analytics and deliver network optimisation – in real-time or near real-time. As networks need to act dynamically to support applications such as unified communications, collaborative working and AI, Advanced Network Performance Management (NPM) and Application Performance Management (APM) are increasingly crucial, with a focus on user experience, resolving application and network performance issues proactively and improving productivity. For cloud environments, one of the disruptive technologies likely to feature strongly in 2019 is live data analytics in a multitenant environment for ‘on the fly’ management.

But it’s not just new technologies that are on the up. For example, load balancing or application delivery control (ADC) is vital to support the ebbs and flows of online demand and means, for example, that retailers can cope with Black Friday and Christmas peak traffic.

Down to the wire

When it comes to installing new fixed or wireless network infrastructure, savvy resellers are getting involved at an earlier stage, working more closely with the customer and forming alliances with building services and structured cabling companies. For example, the latest power over ethernet standard PoE ++ introduces higher power levels to support wireless access points and security cameras along with Internet of Things (IoT) devices access control systems and even PoE lighting.

Security is no longer optional and it’s no surprise that it represents by far the leading investment priority for organisations in the coming 12 months. Many companies are simply unprepared for the security implications as cloud and virtualisation transform the IT infrastructure.

If I had to identify one networking technology that would define 2019, it would be Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN adoption is gathering pace in the enterprise and IDC predicts that the SD-WAN market will be worth $8 Billion by 2021, driven by digital transformation projects that deploy cloud, big data, analytics and mobility.

SD-WAN removes the need for costly MPLS lines to take advantage of broadband internet with the same performance, efficiency and resilience but at a fraction of the cost. The applications range from providing transaction connectivity for retail outlets to supporting distributed unified communications between remote offices. SD-WAN offers a more dynamic and flexible network, which is simpler to control and more adaptable to change and scale.

The forward-thinking reseller is not only adding SD-WAN to their portfolios but also looking to deliver SD-WAN as-a-Service. In fact, the migration from products to as-a-Service model – whether it is infrastructure or security – will be a key theme in 2019. With the adoption of SD-WAN at a tipping point, resellers have a real opportunity to add a new revenue stream to their businesses.

Wireless networks have already been established as an essential element of the infrastructure fabric and companies are committed to expanding their WLANs. According to IDC, the worldwide enterprise WLAN market grew 9.4% in the second quarter of this year compared to the same quarter last year, reaching $1.48 billion.

As well as enterprise Wi-Fi, urban or city-based projects are growing rapidly. One initiative called Wi-Fi for EU is awarding 15k euro grants for such projects and to date some 22,000 places have registered. You can check out to see if your local town or city is on the list at https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/wifi4eu-free-wi-fi-europeans. For resellers, wireless technology can be a trojan horse. Once in the door, there is a good chance of other opportunities to open up.

Finally, here is my left-field tip for 2019 – Data Centre Cooling. According to a report from Global Market Insights, the worldwide market will reach $20 billion by 2024, a massive jump over the $8 billion spent in 2016, as more data centres appear, get bigger and consume more power. Resellers with an eye for new opportunities would do well to explore new territories to deliver literally, cool solutions.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine