Local ICT analyst firm BMIT’s latest South African SD-WAN Market Report sets out to define and then quantify the significant growth trend in software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) adoption.
Based on the broadest definition used in the report, BMIT predicts that SD-WAN will penetrate 37% of all South African VPN-enabled business sites by 2026, up from 17% in 2021.
Christopher Geerdts, BMIT’s Managing Director, notes that customers are adopting SD-WAN to save costs, but are also seeking performance and reliability. “Meanwhile the environment is becoming progressively more complex, as employees need to access a range of cloud-based services from the office, from home and from their smartphones whilst travelling.”
Geerdts points out that the local disruption has, in part, been driven by innovative local service providers deploying their proprietary solutions, aimed at addressing the local challenges of their customers. These solutions are often tailored for specific vertical markets or even fully customised for a single, large, multi-site (even multi-national) customer. Many of these proprietary solutions would likely not conform to the narrowest or ‘purest’ definition of SD-WAN, although the local solutions are constantly evolving.
Further market disruption has come from a number of new managed services players and global SD-WAN vendors, making early inroads into the customer bases of traditional network operators and equipment vendors. These traditional players are responding with their own SD-WAN solutions, leveraging existing customer relationships and the trust they have built with those customers.
While multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and SD-WAN often co-exist in hybrid deployments, BMIT forecasts that the number of sites with traditional MPLS will decline by 5.0% per year between 2021 and 2026, while SD-WAN orchestration is expected to grow at 18% CAGR over the same period. The number of access connections at these sites is set to grow more rapidly than this because SD-WAN customers can benefit by deploying two or more broadband connections at each site.
South African-based managed services players are deploying SD-WAN solutions in customer sites both in the country and in other African countries in which they operate, in a ‘follow the customer’ approach. Due to the weighting of multi-site companies, notably with retailers in the VPN market overall, sites outside of SA’s borders make up as many as 40% of all sites deployed by some leading South African managed service providers.
Cloud services are a key part of the SD-WAN ecosystem: SD-WAN solutions are designed to provide enhanced access to cloud-based corporate applications, while cloud platforms are also part of the SD-WAN solution set, as an enabling platform when delivering managed SD-WAN and security services. Hybrid cloud deployments, with stringent performance, reliability and security requirements, have necessitated new approaches including those for SD-WAN with its decentralised approach, often built on public networks. Deployment, automation, optimisation and orchestration of policy can be expedited via cloud-based services.
An essential component of this cloud-based management is security. BMIT points out that SD-WAN networks have many end points which need to be secured, but then most companies need to support remote work and mobile work in any event. Secure access service edge (SASE) is now being considered a must-have toolset for any cybersecurity strategy.
Get this report: South Africa SD-WAN Market
See BMIT’s full range of reports: BMIT Publications