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Competitive pricing, network monitoring drive SD-WAN selection

Research reveals competitive pricing and monitoring features rank highest in companies’ software-defined wide area networking SD-WAN supplier selection, while WAN optimisation and standardisation rank lowest

The uptake of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) was on a solid upward trajectory before the onset of Covid-19, given further impetus by the parallel emergence and rise of secure access service edge (SASE), which integrates SD-WAN with edge security, and the rise persists as SD-WAN pricing becomes more competitive and monitoring capabilities become popular, according to research from telecommunications market research and consulting firm TeleGeography.

And while competitive pricing and monitoring rank highest among SD-WAN users, WAN optimisation and standardisation rank the lowest. 

In its round-up of the market, TeleGeography published the 2022 SD-WAN vendor guide, detailing 26 SD-WAN suppliers and 90 managed SD-WAN providers. It acknowledges 13 SD-WAN suppliers as the most-cited technology partners, including VMWare and Cisco Viptela, which tied for the most announced service provider partnerships.

Overall, the analyst noted that for many enterprises, the deployment of an SD-WAN was no longer just about the cost savings and ability to take advantage of multiple network transport types cited by early adopters. It said users were also looking at the agility and superior performance that an SD-WAN-enabled network can provide.

In addition, Covid-19 and the shift to hybrid work environments have accelerated the adoption of cloud services and forced WAN managers to permanently accommodate a remote-friendly, bring-your-own-device world. As a result, security has become an integral part of the SD-WAN story.

It added that as enterprise requirements have evolved, SD-WAN services have as well. Where suppliers once bolted on service and security features after the fact, they are now working towards integrating them into their services to reduce complexity and improve customer experience.

Managed SD-WAN providers were also welcoming the next wave of customers, who may not be willing to do it themselves, but want to reap the benefits of SD-WAN in their network.

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TeleGeography noted that while SD-WAN pricing models were in flux and price ranges remain wide, it has started to see some convergence in the market between individual supplier price points as the service has matured.

The research revealed that across all capacities, median non-recurring charges (NRC) for SD-WAN overlays decreased an average of 15% compounded annually since 2018.

The largest price reductions were seen at lower capacities that represent the bulk of reported WAN sites. Median NRC prices for 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps sites were found to have declined 17% and 15% compounded annually since 2018. While NRC charges for managed SD-WAN services were comparable to unmanaged SD-WAN, recurring charges were typically much higher, usually about twice the price.

“As SD-WAN has matured, we’ve seen price points decline and the range in reported vendor prices has started to converge,” said Brianna Boudreau, senior research manager at TeleGeography.

“This is particularly obvious at lower capacities where a majority of reported WAN sites lie, and where competitive pricing would help position suppliers when calculating the total cost for the network,” she said.

“As SD-WAN becomes more widely available, the service has become more standardised. As a result, how vendors distinguish themselves in the market has changed. Simply offering SD-WAN has lost its competitive edge. The value now lies in the intelligence, security and service features that are being added to the service.”

Read more on Software-defined networking (SDN)

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