Over the last few years, the demands enterprises place on their networking infrastructure have increased hugely. As a result of this, many professionals are looking towards new technologies to help them cope with the pressures this puts on their network.
One solution that's grown hugely in the last few years is software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN. If you haven't come across this networking technology, the chances are you will sooner or later, as it's been forecast that this technology is set for a huge rate of growth in the coming years.
Research conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that by 2021, global revenues for SD-WAN infrastructure and services solutions will reach $8.05 billion (£6.23 billion). This represents a compound annual growth rate of 69.6 per cent over the next five years.
The company highlighted several reasons for this explosion in interest, with increased deployment of what it refers to as 'third platform' technologies - namely the cloud, big data, mobile and social business - as part of firms' digital transformation efforts being the most significant driver.
It noted these technologies will be vital in helping support new sources of innovation and creativity to enhance customer experiences and improve financial performance. Such digital transformation efforts will typically result in heavier network workloads and increase the end-to-end importance of the network in critical business operations.
Rohit Mehra, vice-president of network infrastructure at IDC, said suggestions that SD-WAN technology is a "solution in search of a problem" are wide of the mark. In fact, he noted: "Traditional WANs were not architected for the cloud and are also poorly suited to the security requirements associated with distributed and cloud-based applications.
"While hybrid WAN emerged to meet some of these next-generation connectivity challenges, SD-WAN builds on hybrid WAN to offer a more complete solution."
The continued rise of public cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications in particular is also putting additional pressure on networks that are not built to cope with this type of traffic. IDC noted that SD-WAN is being used in these scenarios to provide "dynamic connectivity optimisation and path selection in a policy-driven, centrally manageable distributed network architecture".
The growth and acceptance of software-defined networking (SDN) throughout the enterprise will be another major driver of SD-WAN infrastructure. "As virtualisation, cloud management and SDN continue to gain traction throughout enterprise networks, SD-WAN will benefit from this paradigm shift and receive increasing consideration," IDC stated.
According to the research company, the benefits that businesses can enjoy as a result of deploying SD-WAN solutions include more cost-effective delivery of key business applications, optimising SaaS and other cloud-based services such as unified communications, and improving branch-IT efficiency through automation.