SD-WAN adoption on VPN sites on the rise in SA

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 05 Feb 2024
Christopher Geerdts, managing director of BMIT.
Christopher Geerdts, managing director of BMIT.

Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) adoption by South African organisations is set to accelerate.

That’s according to market analyst firm BMIT’s latest South African SD-WAN Market Report, which sets out to define and then quantify the significant growth trend in SD-WAN adoption.

Based on the broadest definition used in the report, BMIT forecasts that SD-WAN will penetrate 51% of all South African VPN-enabled business sites by 2027, well up from the 24% in 2022.

According to BMIT’s managing director, Christopher Geerdts, BMIT’s site penetration growth forecast for managed SD-WAN services is close to that of the international market, indicating that the South African market is at a similar maturity level.

He contrasts SD-WAN against “do-it-yourself” implementations, where the customer organisation has the skills and resources to not require a fully managed service, choosing instead to self-deploy SD-WAN appliances at its sites, along with broadband connectivity.

BMIT notes that most of the largest companies in South Africa are likely to procure a fully-managed service, and many have endorsed affordable, locally-developed implementations offered by innovative SA-based vendors.

For example, it says, both Metacom and BCX offer their own devices, tailored for local conditions, within their overall solution sets.

The market analyst firm points out that this is especially the case in the retail sector, where SD-WANs are already highly penetrated, and lower-cost solutions of this nature are often favoured.

These are included in BMIT’s “broad definition” of managed SD-WAN, along with solutions based on components from OEMs such as VMWare, Fortinet and Cisco, which have a significant share of the local market, and other major global players.

Geerdts notes that SD-WAN and security are increasingly becoming integrated, as organisations seek to improve their overall security posture while reducing complexity and containing costs.

BMIT research shows the emergence of new SD-WAN solutions that include built-in security features, such as next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and web filtering.

He points out that IT security is now an inline service which is becoming more seamlessly integrated into business processes, with just-in-time (access) assuming breaches will occur.

Automated (and eventually autonomous) security is the goal, and zero trust architecture is premised on the principle that trust itself is a vulnerability and the network is always hostile, Geerdts explains.

“This makes sense both in the SD-WAN environment, and in the wider networking context. In addition, secure access service edge is gaining prominence, converging wide-area networking and security by delivering both as a cloud service directly to the source of connection, providing edge-to-edge protection for remote users and data centres, and also easily scaled up and down so that is can be procured based on usage,” says BMIT.

“While the concept of virtualising servers in the IT world and cloudification (shifting them to public or private cloud computing environments) is relatively mature, a number of more nascent trends have also been reported by local players, which are aligned with international market drivers.”