BMIT SD-WAN Report: SD-WAN will soon be in over half of all VPN sites

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 forecasts that SD-WAN will penetrate  51% of all South African VPN-enabled business sites by 2027, well up from 24% in 2022.

According to BMIT’s Managing Director, Christopher Geerdts, BMIT’s site penetration growth forecast for Managed SD-WAN services is close to that of the international market, indicating that the South African market is at a similar maturity level. He contrasts SD-WAN against ‘Do-It-Yourself (D-I-Y)” implementations, where the customer organisation has the skills and resources to not require a fully managed service, choosing instead to self-deploy SD-WAN appliances at its sites, along with broadband connectivity. Most of the largest companies in South Africa are likely to procure a fully managed service, and many have endorsed affordable, locally-developed implementations offered by innovative SA-based vendors. For example, both Metacom and BCX offer their own devices, tailored for local conditions, within their overall solution sets.

This is especially the case in the Retail Sector, where SD-WANs are already highly penetrated, and lower-cost solutions of this nature are often favoured. These are included in BMIT’s ‘broad definition’ of Managed SD-WAN, along with solutions based on components from OEMs such as VMWare, Fortinet and Cisco, which have a significant share of the local market and other major global players.

Convergence of SD-WAN and security

Geerdts notes that SD-WAN and security are increasingly becoming integrated as organisations seek to improve their overall security posture whilst reducing complexity and containing costs. BMIT research shows the emergence of new SD-WAN solutions that include built-in security features, such as next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), intrusion prevention systems (IPSs), and web filtering.

IT Security is now an inline service which is becoming more seamlessly integrated into business processes, with just-in-time (access) assuming breaches will occur. Automated (and eventually autonomous) security is the goal, and Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) is premised on the principle that trust itself is A vulnerability and the network is always hostile. This makes sense both in the SD-WAN environment, and in the wider networking context. In addition, secure access service edge (SASE) is gaining prominence, converging wide-area networking (WAN) and security by delivering both as a cloud service directly to the source of connection, providing edge-to-edge protection for remote users and data centres, and also easily scaled up & down so that is can be procured based on usage.

While the concept of virtualising servers in the IT world and cloudification (shifting them to public or private cloud computing environments) – is relatively mature, a number of more nascent trends have also been reported by local players, which are aligned with international market drivers, including the following:

  • Edge computing is driven by the demand for low latency responses and the cost of moving high data volumes (for ‘big data’ applications). It is enabled by greater access to computing power at lower pricing, in smaller form factors and with lower power consumption. SD-WAN requires such devices, with appropriate functionality, at the network/enterprise edge.
  • Automation is enhanced by machine learning/artificial intelligence, with ‘smart’ functionality being used to manage the network – from supporting ‘zero touch’ setting up of end-ponts, to creating self-optimising networks which use real-time data from the network to make adjustments to optimise performance and detect and eliminate issues.
  • Increasing use of open source software and a drive for vendors to adopt open standards to ensure their network elements are interoperable so that operators are not tied into a single vendor across elements. It should be noted, though, that SD-WAN solutions in use today are still almost all proprietary.

BMIT sees these trends as mutually reinforcing, as taken together, they allow greater flexibility & agility and vendor independence by operators at reduced costs. Both customer demand and industry innovation are ensuring strong ongoing growth in this market, concludes Geerdts.

Get this report: South Africa SD-WAN Market

See BMIT’s full range of reports:  BMIT Publications