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SD-WAN vendors enjoy rave reviews from happy users

Compared to data center SDN companies, SD-WAN vendors seem to have it easy, with a relative slew of satisfied customers eager to share their deployment stories.

When it comes to software-defined networking in the data center, I sometimes think of the old Toby Keith song, "A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action." While research indicates the number of data center SDN deployments is growing, user stories still seem a bit thin on the ground. And as engineer Jordan Martin recently wrote on the Gestalt IT blog, no vendor pitch can ever pack the punch of a customer testimonial. In an age when many of us are reluctant to try a new restaurant without checking its Yelp review, it makes sense that network managers want to hear about others' experiences before sitting down at the SDN table themselves.

Well, as Toby sang back in '93, "I knew somewhere amid all this distraction was a little less talk and a lot more action" -- which brings us to the wide area network. IDC predicts the software-defined WAN market will swell 90% a year through 2020, and anecdotal evidence supports that narrative of exponential growth. At the Open Networking User Group's most recent conference, for example, a slew of customers stepped onstage to discuss their experiences using technology from a variety of SD-WAN vendors.

In this edition of Network Evolution, we share deployment stories from three of these users (Exxon Mobil, MTD Products and Kindred Healthcare). We hope these case studies, highlighting products from three top SD-WAN vendors, will help as you weigh the possibility of employing SDN principles in your organization's own WAN.

Also in this issue, we take a look at how open source is making inroads in the networking industry ("Open Sesame: Open Source Set to Transform Networking") and consider security issues related to popular team messaging apps like Slack and Unify Circuit ("Team Chat Apps: We Need to Talk ... About Security").

It's fair to say 2016 was the year of SD-WAN, and it looks like 2017 will be too. So in the words of Mr. Keith, "Let's get on down to the main attraction, with a little less talk ... and a lot more action." 

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