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"CSPs are focusing on WAN SDN in a bid to deliver new revenue and reduce opex, which is unleashing a ‘land grab’ among vendors that want to take a share of this emerging and lucrative market."

This report quantifies and analyses four approaches to wide-area network software-defined networking (WAN SDN). It discusses the challenges faced by communications service providers (CSPs) and their vendor partners in deploying SDN to create a programmable WAN and how open-source software is affecting these challenges. The report also classifies and analyses WAN SDN vendors’ solutions and approaches, highlights the leading vendors, and provides recommendations for CSPs and vendors.

- What are the business and operational benefits of introducing SDN into the WAN?
- How will SDN be used to improve control in the WAN?
- Which are the leading vendors and what are their strategies?
- What is the forecast revenue for the WAN SDN market to 2020?
- What is the role of open-source software, specifically OpenDaylight and ONOS, in WAN SDN?
- What is the probable evolution of SDN, influenced by NFV and 5G, and will it integrate with data centre SDN?

It is based on several sources.
- Multiple briefings from SDN vendors worldwide. Many deals are being announced for SD-WAN and what some call ‘carrier SDN’ solutions. We have spoken to many key solution providers.
- Analysys Mason’s internal research on network function virtualisation (NFV) and SDN, which permeates our Telecoms Software and Network research practice.
- Interviews with CSP operations managers, who are currently using or procuring WAN SDN solutions.
- Definitional material from Analysys Mason’s Software-Controlled Networking research programme.

Who Should Read this Report
- Telecoms software vendors that offer an SDN solution, because this report offers an understanding of the industry demand for WAN SDN and the competitive landscape.
- CSPs that have, or are looking to, build an SDN strategy for their WAN, because this report will provide insight into the evolving selection of vendor solutions and market trends for benchmarking.
- CSPs and telecoms software vendors that are seeking to understand where WAN SDN fits into the next-generation operational stack emerging to address NFV and 5G use cases.

Table Of Contents

Software-defined networking (SDN) in the WAN: solution options and vendor opportunities

Table of contents

About this report

Executive summary

Harnessing SDN's automation benefits in the WAN is a much more complex challenge for CSPs than it has been in the data centre

WAN SDN comes in four basic flavours; CSPs can adopt two quickly, but the other two will require a more disruptive SDN element in NGNs



Simple WAN SDN deployments that target new revenue are proceeding; the cost and revenue benefits of more-disruptive deployments will follow

Key WAN SDN market drivers and inhibitors

Four distinct SDN approaches automate the management of the WAN [1]

Four distinct SDN approaches automate the management of the WAN [2]

SD-WAN implementation models overlay existing control planes with programmable SDN functionality at the WAN edge


Revenue forecasts and definition: how Analysys Mason characterises this high-growth space

SDN investments will come from cannibalising NMS spending, opex savings and WAN infrastructure spending delay and avoidance

WAN configurator and SD-WAN solutions have been adopted; multi-layer control and native SDN remain experimental

SDN's disruption of the WAN is changing traditional vendors' businesses and opening the door for new entrants

Successful initial deployments are proving the benefits of WAN SDN

Four WAN SDN vendors have the platform strategies or the assets needed to successfully develop a platform to become market leaders


SDN initiatives are mostly striking the right balance between openness and open source, pushing market spending growth

The future of WAN SDN: the first three approaches will converge around a platform play

A single native SDN approach is ultimately likely to control both WAN and data centre networks, pushed by developments at the edge

WAN SDN is influencing the future shape of network operations; native SDN will be needed to manage 5G networks


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