2017 can be summed up as the year of SD-WAN as we saw real market penetration in this space for the first time. SD-WAN generated about $1.19 billion in sales last year, up from $225 million in 2015. The market is currently on pace to reach $8.05 billion by 2021, with SD-WAN infrastructure and sales expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 69.6 percent.

This growth comes despite the fact that last year, there was still more hype surrounding SD-WAN than actual adoption in the channel and end-user markets. Right now, SD-WAN adoption is hovering around the same place where unified communications as a service (UCaaS) was two or three years ago. The technology, in other words, is still at the beginning of its multibillion-dollar bell curve.

If you have been waiting for the perfect moment to enter the SD-WAN space, now is the time. SD-WAN is a tinderbox waiting to go off as executives and IT decision makers are educated about the technology, aware of what it can do and hungry to press forward with digital transformation initiatives.

It should be noted that the window to be an early adopter in SD-WAN is quickly closing. This is the year we will see much greater market penetration, and by next year it could actually be too late to enter the game.

Here are three reasons why you need to roll your sleeves up and start pushing SD-WAN now:

1. Heavier reliance on applications: Companies are adopting new cloud-based technologies —particularly UCaaS — at a very high pace. By the middle of 2018, 80 percent of all IT budgets will be committed to cloud solutions.  And 73 percent of companies are planning to migrate to a fully software-defined data center by 2019. As businesses continue to digitize, IT leaders will want to make sure that their cloud applications perform as expected in order to maximize their investments and guarantee the strongest possible output.

SD-WAN can offer a single box through which all business network services run, including firewalls, which is important to note as the two industries are bound to merge in the near future. Once a customer has an SD-WAN solution in place, it becomes much easier to change service providers than the actual SD-WAN solution itself. Most businesses will choose to keep the same SD-WAN solution in place for three to 10 years.  This means that accounts will be off the table for longer intervals than with previous technology.

2. Growing end-user demand: By now, end users have heard about SD-WAN and are asking for it to support the sophisticated applications they are using.

Business stakeholders connecting to powerful cloud networks, like developers, are are demanding network environments that are lightning-fast and highly resilient. Enterprise decision makers are feeling the pressure to provide very high performing networks to support business applications and users.  SD-WAN can offer that kind of performance over public internet connections and leverage backup circuits at the same time, making it a no-brainer replacement for costly (and less flexible) MPLS networks.  Because of this, many MPLS accounts will be ripe to transition to SD-WAN.

With the market maturing, we will be seeing more and more case studies coming out over the next few months from organizations that have been using SD-WAN for an extended period of time. For the most part, up until now, all we have had was hype when selling SD-WAN. Now, businesses are looking to the success stories of early adopters and word will spread even faster as this happens.

3.Competition and commoditization: The reality is that the SD-WAN market could be fully-commoditized by this time next year, as the market is already being flooded with plug-and-play SD-WAN solutions. It’s happening much faster than it did with previous telecommunications technologies including UCaaS.

The nature of SD-WAN lends itself to being commoditized faster than other products we have seen in this market.  Partners that get in now have the opportunity to still sell the solution instead of the product, and the professional services that come with it.  As adoption and competition go up, the pricing will go down.  That combined with the shrinking of the market as SD-WAN penetrates and the increasing demand from customers makes now the perfect storm to start selling SD-WAN.

Where to Start
Start with AVANT’s February BattleBriefing: The Exploding SD-WAN Opportunity.  AVANT will dissect the market opportunity so you fully understand why NOW is the time to get in the game.  You can learn more and register here.