SD-WAN: Moving Past the “Horseless Carriage” Phase
Mar 5, 2018
It recently struck me that SD-WAN might be going through its “Horseless carriage”1 phase. When cars originally came out, they were marketed not as cars, but as horseless carriages. At times even with a dummy horse in the front of the car to manage the transition to car adoption, since initially the whole value chain could not wrap their heads around the idea of cars and their potential productivity.
image credit US Trade and Patent Office
As SD-WAN has matured and paved the way to grander solutions, the way people think about SD-WAN cannot stay grounded in the past. Put another familiar way, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created them.
In my conversations with CxO audiences, some still don’t exhibit a sincere sense of urgency and importance when it comes to the transformation and potential of SD-WAN. It’s a car folks! Forget about the horse. Think of the future.
So how do you calibrate your thinking? Do you drink the koolaid—bottoms-up?
Most IT operators see the hype of SD-WAN, and do the opposite of jumping in; they over analyze. It’s commonplace for business and technical leaders to get caught up investigating the building blocks technology—especially SD-WAN. Shouldn’t they seize the opportunity with heightened urgency, in light that the future belongs to the fast?
Moreover, there is an overwhelming myriad of SD-WAN vendors. How do you even begin to choose?
Juniper has led many of these network transformations from ATM to IP to MPLS and now with SD-WAN.
Juniper Contrail SD-WAN
The Juniper® Contrail® SD-WAN solution integrates our best of breed components. The customer premises equipment (CPE) can either be fully virtual (on prem or on cloud), a physical NFX series x86-based NFV-ready universal CPE device, or a physical SRX series NG-firewall + routing secure CPE device. The SD-WAN controller features cloud-grade multitenancy, reliability, and scale, and is now easier to deploy on prem or on cloud as well. It includes APIs for systems integration, and admin and tenant portals with intuitive multilevel policy controls and analytic visuals. What’s newly launched with Contrail SD-WAN, is that it now comes in subscription-based pay-as-you-grow integrated packages of the controller and CPE devices, so our customers get a quick start to realizing the business benefits—enriching the user experience and simplifying connectivity between user and applications, independent of the network topology.
An important difference in Juniper’s solution is the ability for customers to use disaggregated independent lego blocks, either a la carte, to build a custom multi-vendor solution, or pre-integrated as a stack of Juniper components that works as a turnkey solution.
Flexibility To and From SD-WAN
Customers that started their SDN and NFV journey 2-4 years ago have often been experimenting with use cases like virtual CPE (vCPE) or universal CPE (uCPE). How do they deal with new requirements and new solutions like SD-WAN? And how do they change course swiftly?
With Juniper, since the different solution sets like vCPE, uCPE, and SD-WAN, all use the same lego blocks, it’s very easy to flexibly react to market needs with agility—the main promise of SDN and NFV in the first place. Take this chart as examples of possible journeys.
Take managed service providers that started with a vCPE journey to address managed security for SMB customers for example. They can easily flex to uCPE or SD-WAN by enabling new endpoints on the same infrastructure rather than re-architecting from scratch. Similarly, customers that started on a uCPE journey to consolidate multiple branch devices into one x86-based NFV-capable branch can flex from SD-Branch to SD-WAN and back.
In a market so fast-moving and changing quickly, you need to boldly pursue outcomes. To grow and gain advantage with SD-WAN and beyond, that means having enough sense to realize this isn’t a horseless carriage, enough urgency to avoid analysis paralysis, and enough flexibility to not paint yourself into a corner.
The Contrail SD-WAN solution strikes this delicate balance. It’s a powerful vehicle delivering SDN in the WAN, and beyond that frontier too. It’s offered in simple subscription and multi-tier options for a quick start. And its component parts are swappable, competing on their own merits—mighty indeed—and putting you in control of your own best fit and future.