SD-WAN needs to move from a branch-based approach to a user-based approach, according to QOS Networks CEO Frank Cittadino.
The goal is to bring “ubiquitous” performance, security and reliability to end users, regardless of their location. Cittadino envisions users accessing software on a laptop through an agent to access the cloud.
“That’s the exciting piece, because now we’re thinking about ways to not have them route through the branch. Not route them through a hybrid data center like a typical VPN would,” Cittadino told Channel Partners.
Cittadino discussed how 5G and remote work are impacting the SD-WAN industry’s conception of the branch. The leader of the California-based managed network services provider discussed how he expects enterprise networking to evolve over the next few years.
For starters, QOS is projecting 20-30% of customers to never return to the branch, another 20-30% to return to the branch in a hybrid fashion and the remainder to stay in the branch.
“The forecast I put out for my team is, ‘Look, the branch was great up until this year.’ And we all kind of knew that users were going to leave the branch. This year, obviously with the events that are unfolding, we’ve changed our forecast,” Cittadino said.
Our collective understanding of network edge expanded this year to include the home office. So what should we think of home-based SD-WAN solutions like that of Bigleaf Networks?
Cittadino doesn’t sound terribly bullish. Although QOS has deployed SD-WAN to some customers’ homes, its partners aren’t reporting much traction.
It’s worth noting that QOS on average sells to larger customers than that of Bigleaf, which expressly targets SMBs and the midmarket.
“Where we work are the 30,000-40,000-[person] customers who are not sending 40,000 boxes home. There’s just no way. There’s just functionally no way that anyone’s going to do that. It’s cost-prohibitive and logistically prohibitive,” Cittadino said. “So you’ve got to go back to the software, VPN-type solution that’s got performance, reliability and security built in.”
Cittadino calls the approach a “temporary fix to a permanent problem.” The bigger problem, according to Cittadino, is the need to give employees flexibility and mobility.
“No one wants a box at their house,” he said. “I don’t want a box at my house. It’s cumbersome; it’s hard. I don’t want someone to ship me a box and say, ‘Use this thing.’ I can’t take my box with me, because then I’m just bound to my home. And functionally, I don’t want to be bound my home.”
And that brings us to 5G. Terrestrial-based internet currently outperforms 4G LTE. But the game will change when 5G comes of age.
“It’s consistently better than 4G. 4G may be good, but I could walk down the block and lose this call in a minute. So we’re thinking, once 5G comes out, internet connections are going to be better. It’s going to hypermobilize the world. People aren’t going to want to sit at home any more,” Cittadino said.
Yes, Cittadino acknowledges the spotty coverage that analysts have observed in 5G’s early rollout. But he said users don’t need 5G everywhere to work efficiently. They need it at a park or outside a Starbucks or at a mall.
“I think what will happen is the cellphones and the technology will start to alert us where 5G is,” he said. “It will start to say, ‘Hey, 5G network’s nearby.’ And we can walk 50 feet to the right, sit down and work for the day and have a really awesome internet connection.”
Cittadino predicts that as employees do more business outside of homes and office branches, security will …
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