Will 5G accelerate SD-WAN adoption ?! - Tech | 5G, SDN/NFV & Edge Compute


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Will 5G accelerate SD-WAN adoption ?!

SD-WAN market started heating up since late 2017. There are nearly two dozen SD-WAN vendors in the market today. In the Gartner's Hype Cycle for Midsize Enterprises report for 2018, Gartner reports that SD-WAN is in the "Slope of Enlightenment". It means that more Enterprises are now beginning to acknowledge the benefits of SD-WAN technology, Enterprises are doing pilots/trials and newer versions of SD-WAN solutions are entering the market. In the current situation, 5G can potentially accelerate the adoption for SD-WAN technology and fix some of the gaps in the SD-WAN solution

Source: Gartner, 2018

How can 5G technology complement SD-WAN solution?
  1. Speed: 5G offers speeds upto 1 Gbps today, which is ideal for a Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) or the branch offices of large enterprises. For example, you can connect all of the branch offices of a bank or the bank's ATM machines using 5G wireless technology as the SD-WAN backbone. 
  2. Quality of Service (QoS): With features like network slicing, 5G can easily meet the quality of service expectations of enterprise customers. Today, SD-WAN being an OTT solution cannot guarantee QoS. However, 5G network slicing can provide dedicated virtual network slices for customers and dramatically improve the quality of service.  
  3. Service Activation Time: One of the differentiators of the SD-WAN solution when compared to the MPLS based WAN solution is the time it takes to activate the service. With SD-WAN, you can bring up the secure WAN connection in hours, as opposed to the several months that it takes to get a dedicated MPLS circuit. Today, many service providers use 4G technology with SD-WAN solutions to shorten the service activation time. However, with 5G, you can get the benefit of shorter service activation time, without compromising on the speed offered by dedicated MPLS circuits. 
  4. Reliability: Service reliability is going to be one of the differentiators for 5G. In the recent CES event, Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon said service reliability of 99.999% is going to be one of the eight currencies for 5G. 5G is already getting positioned for mission critical services and hence, 5G would be apt for meeting the reliability needs of the SD-WAN solution.
  5. Security: 5G, with the help of network slicing, can provide an E2E virtual network slice for the customer. The enterprise customer can be assured that their traffic that goes over the secure SD-WAN connection on the 5G network, is secure. 
I would not be surprised if service providers start to promote 5G based SD-WAN services to their enterprise customers. It will give a real big push - both for the adoption of 5G as well as SD-WAN, in the enterprise market segment. 

[Updated on 26th Feb 2018: Cisco announced deals with Verizon, AT&T and other service providers, that they'll launch a 5G enabled SD-WAN solution soon.]

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