Altran shows enterprises the way to new generation networks

To meet companies’ growing cloud-based demands, SD-WAN stands out as a solution of the future. Altran, the world leader in engineering and R&D services, is positioning itself as the preferred partner for enterprises, to help them acquire the most appropriate solutions for their business. Sylvain Allard, Head of Corporate Strategy and Marketing, elaborates.

Cloud and SD-WAN are the nexus of enterprise digital transformation

“The entire worldwide market today has to contend with growing demand for cloud-based digital solutions,” explains Sylvain. “In less than five years the market has exploded, and already represents nearly $148 billion. As a result, fixed and mobile network use is soaring, along with new needs for speed, availability and network access. Now, companies’ cost of cloud access has to come down to satisfy the increased growth in data volume—that’s the key challenge.

In this context, company operations and infrastructure managers are completely rethinking their Wide Area Network (WAN), an extended IT network that guarantees coverage over a large geographic area and interconnects multiple Local Area Networks (LANs).

Today it is often costly to use WAN infrastructures and the corresponding connections and they are not well-optimized for the company’s needs. “That’s why the Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) was brought to market.” This technology simplifies enterprise network management, owing to a controller at the application level. The goal is simple: transform the traditional WAN into a hybrid, by combining existing networks with additional new branches connected to the internet. “It’s a double connection, so it provides a link with applications hosted in the cloud via the internet.”

Sylvain sees five advantages to this new type of network. The first, obviously, is reducing the costs, the major challenge in this market.

“Secured internet connections make it easier to access data and applications cheaply.”  It also gives them the advantage of redundancy. In the event of problems on the traditional network, information can be rerouted via the internet connection. Consequently, enterprises get better quality of service with SD-WAN.

Furthermore, they can control speed by separating the software and the applications that pass through the traditional network or the internet, depending on their bandwidth needs. SD-WAN therefore constitutes an innovative way to orchestrate how applications are distributed between the two branches.

The fourth advantage is stronger security. “Critical and strategic applications are managed by the company’s traditional, secured network branch. SD-WAN providers are also going to build a secure path to the internet to access other, less sensitive cloud-based applications,” says Sylvain. Lastly, installing and managing this technology is simplified: SD-WAN equipment is superimposed on the existing network. It is usually plug-and-play and can be installed directly on customers’ local networks, thereby facilitating the deployment phase.

SD-WAN is a booming global market

Nevertheless, SD-WAN got off to an anaemic start, with only 1% of companies worldwide showing interest in 2016. But it did not take very long for the telecom sector to recognize its appeal. The following year, 2017, revenues from SD-WAN infrastructures surged by more than 80%. Today, the market is hovering around $800 million, all solutions combined. “Incredible growth for a market that started at zero two years ago.”

The United States, where SD-WAN was pioneered, represented 80% of SD-WAN sales until 2017, vs 10% in Europe and 8% in Asia Pacific. But it will soon be overtaken. “Europe and Asia also have to adapt to new generation networks and the ballooning volume of data. Some analysts even estimate the potential market at five or six billion dollars by 2022, with growth of more than 40% over the next five years!”

Sylvain is convinced that SD-WAN will be the core of the network of the future. “It relies on virtual network architecture (Software Defined Networks). These technologies are also growing rapidly in this market and correspond to the need for flexibility and optimisation sought by network operators.” The challenge is looking beyond the traditional point-to-point physical network in order to move towards an increasingly virtual network managed by cloud-based applications.

“That means not only by SD-WAN but also by other networks on the market, such as 5G mobiles.”

Altran, leader in SD-WAN advisory services

As an expert and world leader in engineering services and R&D, in particular in the telecom sector, Altran foresees a prodigious rise in demand for advisory services as enterprises transition to SD-WAN. WAN network performance optimization professionals and security solution providers are offering a very wide range of products—too wide for the companies that are sometimes baffled when faced with very complex solutions. “Although it is starting to consolidate, the market still includes an enormous number of participants. To help its partners navigate, Altran enjoys a few valuable assets: “Its neutrality vis-à-vis the various participants and excellent knowledge of the sector.”

Through the acquisition of Aricent, a communications solutions specialist, Altran deepened its expertise, thereby solidifying its place as the market leader. “We deal with all the participants in the market: large operators wanting to pitch their SD-WAN products to enterprises; vendors launching their products or needing to position them in the market; and, lastly, enterprises wanting to adopt these solutions,” Sylvain concluded.

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