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This article is part of: Telco Cloud
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In this update, we look at the new deployments completed by 31 March 2023 or confirmed for completion by the end of 2023 or during 2024, and provide the usual update of telco cloud deployments including new data for 2023 and 2024. Our deep dive this quarter is on SD-WAN and SASE services.
What is happening with SD-WAN in 2023?
The state of the SD-WAN market has changed significantly since the 2010s, when it emerged as prominent driver of telco cloud activity, centred on North America. SD-WAN remains strong, with nearly a quarter of telco cloud deployments in 2022 having SD-WAN as the primary purpose, and has spread across the globe.
Every update of the Telco cloud deployment tracker includes a review of the confirmed or completed telco cloud deployments up to the end of the preceding quarter, and a deep dive into a significant trend revealed in the data. SD-WAN, SASE, and the evolution towards NaaS is in the spotlight in this update.
SD-WAN: A virtualisation success story
SD-WAN is an example of where a technology trend – Network Functions Virtualisation and Software Defined Networking (NFV and SDN) – fed directly into a successful commercial product. It comprises a bundle of Virtualised Network Functions (VNFs), such as routing, WAN optimisation and firewall, placed under centralised SDN control to deliver optimised, application-specific traffic management and prioritisation across the multi-domain, multi-technology enterprise network.
Initially developed and marketed as an overlay service by ISVs – a purely software-based service managed independently of the underlying network platforms – SD-WAN started to be widely delivered by telcos from 2017 as part of their managed enterprise networking portfolios. Deployments in this first wave of telco SD-WAN peaked in 2018, with 45 deployments focused on SD-WAN in that year.
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SASE is a response to the increasing cloudification of SD-WAN
Telcos have not driven innovation in the SD-WAN field. In terms of number of directly served enterprise customers and technology evolution, vendors dominate. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is one such vendor-led solution. It combines SD-WAN with several cloud-based security functions designed to protect against cyber attacks as network traffic crosses the borders between private and public networks and clouds.
Total number of SD-WAN and SASE deployments, 2016-2023
Source: STL Partners
SASE first emerged as a distinct offering in July 2019; but telcos lagged, and the first deployments by telcos were recorded only in 2021.
The increased focus on cloud-delivered security reflects the growing cloudification of WAN services themselves, with larger enterprises running application workloads and traffic across multiple clouds and bypassing the telco WAN altogether.
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