Navigating the Network Transformation Maze of SDN, SD-WAN, SASE and Edge


The modern enterprise network is undergoing a seismic shift, propelled by the overwhelming forces of digital transformation and cloud adoption. Gone are the days of rigid, hardware-bound systems; the future belongs to enterprises that are agile, flexible and secure – hallmarks of software-defined networks.

It is true that DIY approaches to software-defined network (SDN) transformation still exist, but many enterprises are seeking expert help. The ISG Provider Lens report on Network – Software Defined Solutions and Service 2024 looks at the market for mature providers offering end-to-end network transformation from assessment and planning, consulting, design and deployment to testing and optimization, ongoing management and support to governance, change management and integration with existing elements.

What Network Service Providers Are Offering

The network management and transport layers have been converging from a technical standpoint, and enterprises need an end-to-end view of their network layers. These views need to be configurable, fully managed and repeatable with management and transport views. As mature enterprises adopt the network-as-a-service model, observability and security elements amalgamate cloud-based software-defined solutions. ISG's upcoming report on software-defined network solutions and services dives into this dynamic landscape, analyzing and comparing provider offerings.

The report covers providers across the following capabilities:

  • Managed software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services: The power of software-defined, fully managed solutions for a preconfigured and fully orchestrated network helps slash costs, boost visibility and simplify operations. With centralized monitoring and simplified WAN management, providers are maximizing application performance in a multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud environment with anywhere-access technology across copper, fiber, wireless and satellite.
  • SDN transformation consulting: Migrating to a software-defined future requires a careful strategy and meticulous deployment. SDN transformation consulting provides support for enterprises through every step, ensuring a smooth transition with minimal disruption. Building internal expertise is crucial for long-term success. The IPL report evaluates consulting groups who work with enterprise teams to give them the necessary skills and knowledge to confidently manage and maintain software-defined network. As they say, SDN is more of a philosophy, so it needs to adapt to enterprise culture, architecture and business models.
  • Edge technologies and services: Edge is not a passive endpoint but a hub of innovation. Therefore, it has the potential for faster processing, enhanced efficiency and improved security in private 5G. The IPL report analyzes provider strengths in extracting valuable insights in real-time and reducing the strain on enterprise core. It also looks at how providers support their clients’ network to promote data privacy, interoperability, industry expertise with 5G and zero-touch network access.
  • Secure access service edge (SASE): The foundation of SASE is SD-WAN. ISG continues to examine providers in 2024 that weave an impenetrable web of security around enterprise networks, from core to edge, not only with integrated SD-WAN but also advanced security solutions. These solutions include cloud access security broker, secure web gateway, next-generation firewalls with deep packet inspection capabilities, firewall-as-a-service solutions with vCPE/uCPE constructs, secure service edge with real-time centralized network management and zero trust network access.

ISG delves into the depths of each segment, uncovering key market influencers and prospects, concrete decision-making support to choose the right providers, and actionable insights to maximize enterprise ROI on network investments. Other elements include pricing, automation, use of frameworks/IPs, AIOps along with business and technology strategy. For competitiveness in each market, ISG also evaluates differences in support provided for each of the solutions, their relative size in the market, number and variety of clients in each quadrant, case studies and customer experience scores as part of the ISG Star of Excellence™ program.

The benefits of a holistic network transformation are improved user experience, agility and simplified security management. This not only encourages enterprises to embrace the agility and cost savings of SD-WAN, but also demystifies the edge and fortifies the network with SASE's holistic security blanket.

The ISG Provider Lens™ Quadrant research series is the only service provider evaluation of its kind to combine empirical, data-driven research and market analysis with the real-world experience and observations of ISG’s global advisory team. Enterprises will find a wealth of detailed data and market analysis to help guide their selection of appropriate sourcing partners, while ISG advisors use the reports to validate their own market knowledge and make recommendations to ISG’s enterprise clients. The research currently covers providers offering their services across multiple geographies globally. For more information about ISG Provider Lens™ research, please visit this webpage.


About the authors

Yash Jethani Pradeep

Yash Jethani Pradeep

As ISG’s Principal Analyst and Senior Manager, Yash brings his 13+ years of experience in consulting, research, thought leadership, corporate marketing, due diligence, account management, and business development. As a lead analyst, he currently contributes to ISG’s Provider Lens global competitive research studies. He is also involved in supporting client queries, generating marketing assets for the firm, supporting surveys and leading active discussions in building relationships and driving business outcomes. 
Kenn Walters

Kenn Walters

Kenn Walters is a commercially astute and highly skilled Senior Executive with over 40 years’ experience in directing and managing major technology projects and development programs, with a specialty in networking and communications of all types, as well as extensive experience in global management consultancy. A competent strategist capable of delivering innovative plans and activities designed to facilitate enhanced operational performance and process improvement. Possessing a strong track record of driving change, innovation and business improvement with extensive business start-up, turnaround and transformation experience; achieving significant and sustainable bottom line improvement. Widely regarded as a strong and supportive leader who thrives in challenging and high pressure environments internationally and in differing cultures.