Is cloud networking convergence just around the corner? Dell'Oro says yes.

  • Today’s multi-cloud networking, middle mile and unified SASE will converge on a single distributed cloud networking platform, the analysts say.

  • Enterprises’ increasing reliance on public clouds, distributed workforce and extending the LAN out to the public Internet are factors driving the transition.

  • These integrated networking services will begin to emerge in 18-24 months.

The cloud networking market is on the verge of a grand simplification, with the network edge, middle mile and multi-cloud networking converging on a unified platform called distributed cloud networking, according to a fresh report from Dell’Oro Group.

The new platforms will emerge in the next 18-24 months and grow to a cumulative spend of $58 billion between 2023 and 2027, analyst Mauricio Sanchez said.

The emerging distributed cloud networking market is driven by the new architecture of enterprise infrastructure.

“The traditional network mentality just no longer works in today’s enterprise where the internet is an extension of the corporate LAN and public clouds are the new data centers,” Sanchez said in a statement.

According to Dell'oro, distributed cloud networking will bring together three markets that are now separate:

  • Unified secure access service edge (SASE), which connects edge locations to the global network. These edge locations include remote users and facilities such as retail branches and gas stations, Dell’Oro said. The analysts use the phrase “unified SASE” to distinguish it from solutions that simply bundle separate SD-WAN and security service edge (SSE) services. Unified SASE integrates SD-WAN and SSE into a unified service.

  • WAN-as-a-service (WANaaS) for the middle mile, replacing MPLS and managed service contracts.

  • Multi-cloud networking, which connects workloads running on multiple public clouds. Today, every cloud provider has its proprietary networking service; future services will be standardized and platform-neutral.

The trend toward distributed cloud networking has been ongoing for years, though it accelerated with the pandemic. Previously, networking was built on a centralized IT model for users, data and applications, but now users and the network edge are distributed, and applications are migrating to the cloud, driving new networking needs.

Dell’Oro identified 26 vendors as likely to be players in the emerging market, including the cloud hyperscalers, traditional networking vendors, SASE providers and other communications providers, but no telcos or cable companies.

The list includes: Akamai, Alkira, Amazon, Arista, Arrcus, Aryaka, Aviatrix, Cato Networks, Cisco, Cloudflare, ConsoleConnect, Epsilon, Equinix, F5, Google, Graphiant, InterCloud, Juniper, Megaport, Microsoft, PacketFabric, Prosimo, Stateless, Teridon, Versa Networks and VMware,

The new networking reality will require changes from telcos, which will need to be able to provision services quickly. And enterprises will have more connectivity options, Sanchez said in an interview with Silverlinings.

Vendor thoughts

What do the vendors think of this idea? SASE provider Cato Networks agrees “in principle” that there will be “one secure global network” connecting and securing all edges, including cloud instances, sites, remote users and IoT devices, with all applications and data repositories, said Dave Greenfield, Cato’s director of technology evangelism. He noted that Cato SASE Cloud already includes the WAN middle-mile, facilitates multi-cloud networking “and is recognized by Dell'Oro as a leader in unified SASE.”

Simplified user experience will be essential to successful distributed cloud networking service in the way that the iPhone succeeds with users because of its simplified experience. It “just worked,” Greenfield said.

“The same is true in unified SASE and distributed cloud networking in general. The capabilities have been around for many years. What's new is the convergence of those capabilities into a single, unified platform,” Greenfield said.

He added, “It's the experience — not the features table — that matters most.”

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