It would be hard not to think of 2017 as a tipping point for SD-WAN services. Many vendors saw growth accelerate significantly owing to enterprise need for the cost and operational savings offered by SD-WAN technology.

That growth has been sustained this year by prevailing trends, including the expanding use of hybrid cloud computing architectures by enterprises.  Hybrid cloud deployments in turn has led enterprises to seek more flexible and affordable networking solutions.

Even though the positive reception to SD-WAN by customers isn’t a surprise to us at Apcela, it seems to have caused networking vendors like Cisco to realize that they have to address gaps in their portfolio. The result was an earlier than expected exit for Viptela for $610m to Cisco. That move in turn spurred VMware to take out VeloCloud as Cisco and VMware battle for mindshare (and market share in the datacenter and network virtualization space.

Over half a billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but from a valuation perspective, VeloCloud and Viptela probably would have gained by building their revenues further as the SD-WAN market starts to mature. On the other hand, Fortune 2000 companies tend to adopt new technologies fairly slowly, so having the marketing dollars of Cisco and VMware will help further legitimize the market going into 2018.

However, we believe the conversation is already starting to move from just being about the benefits of SD-WAN to a more comprehensive discussion about how enterprises should leverage SD-WAN to enable a next-generation architecture that provides more agility and functionality.