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SD-WAN Questions Linger for CSPs

Denise Culver
Heavy Lifting Analyst Notes
Denise Culver, Online Research Director
10/11/2017
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When telco vendors are thoroughly committed to selling equipment that supports various technologies, there are words you'll never hear them use to describe service provider interest in that technology. Words such as ambiguous, unclear and questionable, for instance, are never uttered.

Yet all of those words are synonymous to findings expressed in the report generated from Heavy Reading's Thought Leadership Council (TLC), SD-WAN Focus Group: Path to Success Still Uncertain. Service providers in the report have no clear path for deploying software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) or generating significant, long-term revenue from it. Despite that, equipment vendors and market forecasts insist the technology is a panacea.

This is the second report generated from the TLC, which is made up of service providers who are actively involved in planning and building new networks and services. More than 60% of the service providers in the TLC already have deployed SD-WAN.

Nevertheless, many are clear that SD-WAN is a replacement service for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) revenue, as opposed to a new source of revenue expansion, which alters the revenue picture painted by many equipment vendors. Furthermore, no two service providers in TLC are deploying SD-WAN the same. In fact, more than 70% of service providers in the forum admit they're using more than one strategy to deploy SD-WAN.

This report also clearly underscores the impact that the TLC's format has on service provider input. Participants are drawn from service providers around the world and include a mix of wireline, mobile, cloud, fiber, data and broadband network operators. Their information is completely confidential, so members can share their ideas and experiences freely.

The anonymity enabled one service provider to admit that a key SD-WAN vendor selection was heavily influenced by his management's relationship with a vendor. However, when the choice backfired, deployment was delayed by a year. Another service provider admitted that deploying SD-WAN had not translated to any increase in revenue.

The next TLC focus group report will be on Emerging Technologies. Additional TLC reports will cover 5G, Automation and B/OSS Transformation; a report on IoT already is available.

— Denise Culver, Director of Online Research, Heavy Reading

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A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

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