State of the WAN: Roy Chua

With the WAN world facing unprecedented challenges, how will buyers and sellers respond? We spoke to 16 people across the spectrum to discover where they think the important areas will be over the next few years.

Roy Chua, Founder & Principal, AvidThink

“SD-WAN is essentially the next-generation enterprise edge, where you can bundle together multiple types of links and run traffic over them – while some may be more reliable than others, reliability goes up overall. This is coupled with a central configuration, usually cloud control, so you can manage hundreds or thousands of locations with consistent policies across those locations.

“It’s been a success – enterprises rolled it out first, and then the telcos realised it could be a revenue source to them by upselling value-added services. So they are now deploying what you might call ‘SD-WAN Gen 2’, with the carriers wanting more control and saying ‘Don’t use the boxes the SD-WAN vendors gave you, use my UCPE and I can run multiple VNFs on that CPE’. This offers not just the SD-WAN that clients asked for but even more – a firewall that a client’s security team has vetted for compliance could go into the deployment, for example. This SD-WAN Gen 2 is going on worldwide across major carriers – a lot of RFPs have it included.

“What else are the carriers doing? In this Gen 2 setup we need more sophisticated orchestration. As SD-WAN matures, we are getting ever so close to that full-stack NFV rollout. We started with vCPE as an initial NFV use case in the telco space – and instead an enterprise-led initiative in the form of SD-WAN has become a major telco driver leading the NFV rollout! As I look at many of the carrier architecture for SD-WAN Gen 2, it looks a lot like NFV.

“We are getting there – but perhaps not along the path we had originally envisioned.”