To be sure, the market is hyper-competitive with cable operators increasingly competing not only with the telcos, but also with vendors selling directly to the enterprise customers, managed services providers and others. In this competitive environment, Comcast has been able to effectively capitalize on its customer base for broadband service, and because it never sold MPLS, it saw SD-WAN as a way to penetrate deeper in the existing customer base. At the same time, Comcast is leveraging SD-WAN to broaden its reach outside its footprint, offering the service over the top. This has been a winning strategy for Comcast. It is worth noting that since Comcast does not sell MPLS, it easier to streamline the sales incentives behind SD-WAN.
Having said this, Comcast competes effectively by not selling SD-WAN as a one-trick pony but rather as a first service in a continuum, which will be delivered over the same infrastructure in the future. In the near term, Comcast’s offer of SD-WAN bundled with a firewall and flat-rate pricing is proving attractive. What is more interesting is ActiveCore, a carrier-grade platform enabling virtualization of network functions with built-in orchestration within the core, with an API for customer management and visibility. In this context, SD-WAN becomes the first of many Virtual Network Function with a rich roadmap to follow.
Although it will take time for the mainstream market to become comfortable with software-based solutions, Comcast’s strategy is the right one in the context of the inevitable transition to software-based infrastructures. As the SD-WAN market matures, and inevitably consolidates, only the strong players, vendors or service providers will prevail. Those that succeed will be those that have established a beachhead, gaining a long-term competitive advantage.
We at ACG are developing services in the SD-WAN space that covers vendors, service provider offerings, and go to market strategies. For further detail contact Liliane Offredo-Zreikatloffredo@acgcc.com.