Dell’Oro: SD-WAN market grew 45% YoY; Frost & Sullivan: Fortinet wins SD-WAN leadership award

According to a recently published report by Dell’Oro Group, the worldwide SD-WAN market grew 45% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the prior year. Cisco maintained the top position for the revenue share for the quarter and was followed by Fortinet and VMware in the second and third spots.

“Enterprises are upgrading network infrastructures at accelerated rates compared to pre-pandemic times, and our research finds that the SD-WAN market is growing at strong double-digit rates in all regions of the world,” said Shin Umeda, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “Because SD-WAN is software-based technology, the global supply chain disruptions have had less of an effect compared to hardware-based networking products,” added Umeda.

Additional highlights from the 3Q 2021 SD-WAN Report:

  • The SD-WAN market continues to consolidate around a small number of vendors with the top six vendors accounting for 69 percent market share in 3Q 2021.
  • Cisco’s quarterly SD-WAN revenue nearly doubled in 3Q 2021 with especially strong growth in the North America region.
  • The market for hardware-based Access Routers grew quarterly revenues for the first time in almost two years.

About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group SD-WAN & Enterprise Router Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the SD-WAN and Enterprise Router markets for future current and historical periods. The report includes qualitative analysis and detailed statistics for manufacture revenue by regions, customer types, and use cases, average selling prices, and unit and port shipments. To purchase these reports, please contact us by email at [email protected].

About Dell’Oro Group

Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT markets.  Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions.  For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit


Separately,  Frost & Sullivan recently analyzed the global SD-WAN vendor market, and recognized Fortinet with the 2021 Global SD-WAN Vendor Product Leadership Award for transforming and securing the WAN. Fortinet’s Security-driven Networking approach to SD-WAN enables a wide range of use cases including secure and optimized connections to cloud-based applications. The company’s Secure SD-WAN solution integrates SD-WAN capabilities, advanced routing functions, next-generation firewall (NGFW), and zero trust network access (ZTNA) proxy on a single appliance or a single virtual machine (VM) to deliver secure networking capability. The solution can be deployed in a virtual or physical format on-premise or as a VM in the cloud, with a throughput of 20 Gbps, the highest available in the industry.

Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution, powered by the industry’s first SOC4 SD-WAN ASIC [1.] for accelerated performance, features an unrestricted WAN bandwidth consumption model on appliances that is unique in the industry. Cloud adoption continues to grow, but enterprises have generally struggled to implement and maintain a secure, high-performing WAN that allows for efficient access to cloud-based applications across their user base. With the rise in remote working and with distributed users accessing cloud-hosted applications, the enterprise perimeter is no longer limited to users within the company site. Fortinet’s solution securely connects users to cloud-based applications delivering consistent policies off- and on-network.

Note 1.  On Apr 9, 2019 John Maddison, EVP of product and solutions, Fortinet said:

“The WAN edge is now a part of digital attack surfaces, but the edge of your network must never be a bottleneck. For branch offices, the ability to provide best-of-breed WAN Edge — including SD-WAN, WAN optimization, security and orchestration — with optimal performance and security is critical to enable the digital experience. Fortinet’s SoC4 SD-WAN ASIC allows organizations to realize security-driven networking whether they have 100 or 10,000 branch offices.”


Roopa Honnachari, VP of Research, Network Services & Edge, explained that “Fortinet has been a long-time leader in the network security market, which has enabled them to deliver a solution that tightly knits advanced security features with SD-WAN. Though Fortinet is best known as a security company, they have shown their strength and innovation in networking as one of the top SD-WAN solutions on the market capable of supporting enterprise digital transformation.”

To break the perception that it is a security vendor that also does SD-WAN and to eliminate the risk of not appealing to enterprise infrastructure or network decision makers, the company has consciously focused on highlighting its routing and networking capabilities in marketing activities and proofs of concept.”

With its focus on SD-WAN with integrated advanced security and ability to deliver multiple functions in a single hardware appliance or VM, Fortinet has experienced significant growth in the last three years. The company sells 100% through channel partners, including large telcos, such as AT&T, Verizon, British Telecom, Masergy, GTT, KDDI, Orange, and Windstream, that are looking to add secure SD-WAN to their portfolios. As a result, Fortinet has nearly doubled its revenue.

Honnachari added that “Fortinet has emerged as a formidable competitor in the enterprise secure networking space. While the company has always served as a leading competitor in the network security space, the transformation to adding SD-WAN, NGFW, ZTNA access proxy, and advanced routing capabilities on a single operating system and managed by a single console is highly commendable.”

Gartner’s  Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure

Cisco is a leader in this Magic Quadrant. It has two branded offerings: Cisco SD-WAN powered by Viptela and Cisco SD-WAN powered by Meraki. Both include hardware and software appliances, and associated orchestration and management. Cisco also provides optional additional security via the Cisco Umbrella Security Internet Gateway (SIG) platform. Cisco is based in California, U.S., and has more than 40,000 WAN edge customers. The vendor operates globally and addresses customers of all sizes, in all verticals. We expect the vendor to continue to invest in this market, particularly in the areas of improved self-healing capabilities, new consumption-based pricing models and integrated security to enable a single-vendor SASE offering.

Fortinet is a leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its offering is the FortiGate Secure SD-WAN product, which includes physical, virtual appliances and cloud-based services managed with FortiManager orchestrator. Fortinet is based in Sunnyvale, California, U.S., and Gartner estimates that it has more than 34,000 WAN edge customers with more than 10,000 SD-WAN customers. FortiOS v.7.0 combines ZTNA to its broad WAN and network security functionalities to deliver a capable SASE offering. It has a wide global presence, addressing customers across multiple verticals and sizes. We expect the vendor to continue investing in SASE, artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) and 5G functionality.

VMware is a leader in this Magic Quadrant. Its offering is branded as VMware SD-WAN, and is part of VMware SASE. The offering includes edge appliances (hardware and software), gateways — VMware points of presence (POPs) offering various services — and an orchestrator and its Edge Network Intelligence. VMware provides additional optional security via VMware Cloud Web Security and VMware Secure Access. Based in California, U.S., it has more than 14,000 SD-WAN customers. The vendor operates globally and addresses customers of all sizes, and in all verticals. Gartner expects the vendor to continue investments in this market, including enhancing options for remote workers and building out its SASE offering.


Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed a product with innovative features and functionality that is gaining rapid market acceptance. The award recognizes the quality of the solution and the customer value enhancements it enables.

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3 thoughts on “Dell’Oro: SD-WAN market grew 45% YoY; Frost & Sullivan: Fortinet wins SD-WAN leadership award

  1. MetTel CTO Ed Fox on enterprise interest in the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) trend that brings together networking and security services.

    “I think more folks have been exposed to [SASE] but I think there’s even more ambiguity about what it actually is at this point,” says Fox. “It’s partly our problem in the industry as well as what customers deem it as, we all share in creating the gray area there. I do see more customers asking about it and there’s a lot more information out there, but once again, the information we’re all putting out there is pretty diverse.”

  2. Expect SD-WAN sales to continue to accelerate, if recent news is any indication. AWS in December introduced AWS Cloud WAN, its solution to replace a pre-existing “patchwork” into an integrated AWS dashboard. AWS Cloud WAN connects on-prem data centers, branch offices and cloud resources together on AWS’ global backbone. Customers gain private network control and management through a central dashboard. AWS Cloud WAN users can issue network policies to build and manage their global networks.

    AWS’s announcement happened the same week that Verizon Business announced a new managed SD-WAN service of its own. Verizon announced a Cisco-based managed service as part of Verizon Business’s Network as a Service (NaaS) digitization strategy. The goal of the service is to deliver cloud security and 5G capabilities to businesses with reduced complexity, it said.

    The Verizon/Cisco offering comprises Managed Cisco SD-WAN for the Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms Family, Integrated Services Router (ISR) 1000 and 4000 integration, Cisco Umbrella security framework, Duo zero-trust security support and Thousand Eyes for network observability.

    Verizon and Cisco previously collaborated earlier in 2021 to offer three new SD-WAN managed services. The expansion included two offerings supported by Viptela, the SD-WAN provider that Cisco acquired in 2017. Those include the co-managed Cisco SD-WAN that allows for the control and self-management of SD-WAN security and application policies; and the managed SD-WAN for the Cisco ISR1100 Series platform that is designed for smaller branch office deployments.

  3. SD-WAN provides a secure path from siloed enterprise networks to the public, private and hybrid cloud
    SD-WAN is a reset in thinking about how a Wide Area Network (WAN) should work. It’s a virtual WAN architecture, an overlay that can work with different network transport services, including broadband. SD-WAN enables organizations to centrally manage traffic using the principles of Software Defined Networking (SDN), without the limitations imposed by physical network infrastructure.

    SD-WAN centralizes network control, management, provisioning and security, despite the continued decentralization of data, as businesses move to the cloud. A few companies stand apart from the rest when it comes to offering SD-WAN solutions. Cisco is the market leader, followed by Fortinet and VMware, according to a report from Dell’Oro Group.

    Enterprise spend on SD-WAN has accelerated in recent times. Businesses are upgrading network infrastructure to accommodate changing objectives and shifting workforce demands, as well. Sales of SD-WAN solutions rose 45% year-over-year for the third calendar quarter of 2021, according to Dell’Oro. The research firm noted that Cisco’s quarterly SD-WAN revenue nearly doubled in the quarter, with especially strong growth in North America.

    The State of the WAN
    For years, the literal backbone of enterprise WAN connectivity has been Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS is a routing technique which directs data based on short path labels rather than long network addresses. Those paths labels speed network traffic by identifying virtual links between distant network nodes, eliminating routing delays.

    MPLS supports a range of network transport services. And as the acronym implies, it supports multiple networking protocols: Internet Protocol (IP), Asynchronous Transport Mode (ATM) and Frame Relay, for example.

    Regardless of protocol, MPLS connections all have one thing in common: They’re dedicated circuits, and require specialized routing hardware at both ends. This complicates provisioning and limits scale. What’s more, traditional WAN topologies typically backhaul all network traffic for security. This creates bottlenecks and complicates network traffic management.

    A WAN topology that restricts the flow of network traffic to the cloud is at direct odds with enterprise digitalization strategies. Enterprises depend on more cloud-based services than ever to manage essential business functions. SaaS platforms like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are examples. These platforms provide organizations with agility, flexibility, and scale, but being cloud-native demands a new approach when it comes to practical network management.

    SD-WAN modernizes network operations for the cloud
    As enterprises and users turn to the cloud, the difference between data center cloud and public cloud can get nebulous. Increasing public cloud-dependence and adjacency introduces complications to network security and compliance. Data sovereignty, compliance and security is top of mind for every IT professional.

    Many enterprises leaning into to the cloud are implementing Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) to manage their networks. SD-WAN abstracts the networks’ transport service altogether. It’s a virtual WAN architecture which enables organizations to leverage whatever transport service they need — broadband, MLPS, 4G LTE, 5G.

    By separating the network’s control plane altogether, SD-WAN enables businesses to centralize network management, security, and provisioning. SD-WAN replaces dedicated network hardware with Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) in place of physical networking hardware.

    VNFs specifically replace devices like network routers and firewalls. VNFs are implemented as Virtual Machines (VMs) which run as software in the IT cloud, operating on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) server hardware. Accompanied by Cloud-native Network Functions (CNFs), they provide IT departments with the ability to scale services instantly to meet demand. As software rather than hardware, VNFs and CNFs can be continuous updated and optimized.

    While VNFs are nothing new to enterprise IT, what’s new here in the SD-WAN equation is how SDN itself helps IT operations manage network operations and data security for branch and remote locations. There are some key differences, too.

    “SDN advocates a central controller to dictate network behaviors. In contrast, SD-WAN generally manages based on central policy control, but decisions may also be made locally while taking into consideration the corporate policies. Or decisions can be made centrally while incorporating knowledge of local conditions reported by remote network nodes,” said VMware.

    SD-WAN in the wild
    SD-WAN has emerged as an opportunity for carriers and hyperscalers, Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers, and edge services. In December, Amazon introduced AWS Cloud WAN as a way to replace what it called a “patchwork” of services needed to handle private network control and management. AWS Cloud WAN connects on-prem data centers, branch offices and cloud resources together on AWS’ global backbone, consolidating management through a central dashboard.

    Verizon features SD-WAN managed by Cisco as an option for its Network as a Service (NaaS). It comprises Cisco Umbrella security framework, manages zero trust application access and provides managed services through Cisco products including Pluggable Interface Modules and Catalyst Cellular Gateways.

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