Gartner Updates Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure


Gartner Updates Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure

Oct 05, 2020

The Gartner organization has released the latest update to its Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge vendors for 2020. That coveted upper right leadership corner is getting a lot more crowded this year. Previous leaders, VMware and Silver Peak, are now joined by four others, bringing the total to six market leaders, up from just two last year. The fact that so many are moving up to the leader quadrant means that the key players have upped their game, either through acquisition or through further development of native capabilities, and in some cases a combination of both.

SD-WAN has seen tremendous growth in the last year and as we watch the market, we see that its criticality in the enterprise network edge is far beyond cemented. Were seeing the space evolve to incorporate new key factors like security and focus beyond the branch and toward the end user. It’s a sign of maturation that signals the success and track record that SD-WAN has driven.

Less noticed in the quadrant, but also significant, is a plethora of equipment makers of varying sizes and competencies, each trying to find their niche in this increasingly diverse marketplace. The healthy diversity of SD-WAN equipment makers, despite the consolidation that has already occurred, indicates that the magnet of strong demand growth continues almost unabated, despite a brief pause in the second and third quarters, as companies readjust their purchasing plans for the year ahead.

We’ll dive deeper into the current vendor rankings a little later, but first let’s take a look at some future trends that will play out over the next couple of years.

WAN Edge Market Trends

The Gartner report provided some pertinent projections on the direction of the overall WAN edge market, which are summarized below.

  • On the security front, Gartner predicts that by 2024, more than 60% of SD-WAN customers will have implemented a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture, compared with about 35% in 2020. This strong protected uptake is not surprising considering that Gartner analysts invented this category, and are attuned to seeing signs of success.
  • By 2024, Gartner asserts that 60% of enterprises will have implemented SD-WAN, compared with about 30% in 2020, a number that some analysts would consider low. Other estimates indicate that more than 50% of firms have already transitioned to, or are in the process of implementing, SD-WAN.
  • By 2024, 20% of SD-WAN centralized configuration and troubleshooting will be touchless via an artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, compared with none in 2020.
  • Gartner also notes that the market for branch office WAN functionality continues to rapidly shift from dedicated routing, security and WAN optimization appliances to feature-rich SD-WAN.
  • Enterprises that rely solely on broadband Internet access will double from 15% today to 30% in 2023. Still, that implies that 70% of enterprises will continue to use private carrier network services (as opposed to public Internet) such as MPLS, to interconnect locations. For SMBs, however, that ratio is likely reversed, with the vast majority using the public Internet between locations, for access to SAAS applications, and for browsing the Web.

That SD-WAN is replacing branch office routers and also subsuming the WAN optimization market is really a no-brainer, especially as the higher bandwidths made available by the shift to broadband obviate much of the need for efficiency and acceleration that drove WAN optimization in the past. The old LAN mantra of bandwidth solves all problems is finally coming true for the WAN as well. Probably the only limitation to broadband is large file transfers for senders non-fiber based broadband is highly asymmetric but even there, upload speeds for high-end broadband are able to eclipse most MPLS that is not accessed via fiber.

Managed Services Gain Popularity

In North America, Gartner observes that while 60% of WANs have traditionally been DIY, SD-WAN is changing that ratio towards managed services. In theory, SD-WAN should be easier to configure and manage than routed networks, but in practice, many companies, particularly mid-sized firms with lean IT staffing, are leaning more towards a managed option. It is typically the larger corporations with large staffs of highly skilled network engineers that still prefer to do it all themselves, but even so, those expensive internal resources can be put to better use on more mission critical operations when the day-to-day monitoring and management is outsourced to providers that excel in that field.

The SD-WAN Leaderboard

In preparing their rankings, the Gartner analysts observed that since SD-WAN is replacing discrete routing, network security, and WAN optimization devices with integrated software-based solutions, many vendors have come to SD-WAN from those different markets. Each of those bring their respective strengths, but also weaknesses, to the solutions they are offering. The winners will be those that provide the most comprehensive combination of effective SD-WAN networking capabilities, with strong security solutions, both in the cloud and the network edge.

Here is a quick stack ranking of the leaders based on position in the quadrant:

1. VMware/Velocloud remains solidly in the top positioned that it has held for several years, largely due to its SD-WAN customers geographically diversified on a global basis, across all verticals and sizes, including many with 1000+ sites. Gartner notes that while the company is still developing its native security, the analysts are expecting to see improvements in SASE security, as well as multi-cloud and analytics going forward.

2. Fortinet Strong security plus 6,000 SD-WAN customers vaulted the firewall vendor into the number two spot. This may be surprising to some, considering its limited SD-WAN capabilities, but underscoring the importance of advanced security features to the edge networking market.

3. Versa Formerly ranked only in the Vision category, Versa has now climbed to number three, also by virtue of advanced security features, as well as a full routing protocol stack and multi-tenancy that puts this vendor on the short list for large complex networks, especially in financial services and other verticals with high security/compliance requirements.

4. Cisco Moving into fourth place, the networking behemoth Cisco has benefited from multiple acquisitions and solutions, particularly Meraki and Viptela, which seem to be paying off. However, analysts noted that the need for standalone security products and complex pricing/licensing continues to be a detractor.

5. Palo Alto — Vaulting into the 5th place following its acquisition of CloudGenix, indications are that the combination of strong SD-WAN features and best-in-class security could be the path to success.

6. Silver Peak Hanging on in sixth place, Silver Peak relies on its traditional strength in WAN optimization to remain in the top group, although the acquisition by HPE and combination with Aruba should provide a big boost to its market presence down the road.


Learn more about the benefits that co-managed SD-WAN from QOS Networks can bring to your organization. QOS has installed and managed some of the worlds largest multi-thousand site SD-WAN installations in 39+ countries around the globe, and currently has tens of thousands of SD-WAN edges, as well as Layer 2/3 switches, routers and wireless devices from the leading vendors under active monitoring.

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