Published On: Mon, Feb 19th, 2018

Comcast Establishing a Beachhead with SD-WAN

Comcast launches SD-WAN service and finds strong momentum and better than expected willingness to walk away from MPLS

Despite all the hype around SD-WAN, there is true momentum building up in the enterprise market and a strong willingness to abandon MPLS. Surprisingly, more companies than expected are hitching their business on the Internet and leaving MPLS behind. Comcast is successfully tapping into this momentum. Having launched an SD-WAN service in September 2017, it has seen a strong sales funnel and significant traction, particularly in the mid-market.

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-Zreik at loffredo@acgcc.com.