Much like SD-WAN, disruptive football teams are shaking up the old world order. Watching this year’s World Cup, I can’t help but feel it has thrown up some surprising parallels with the enterprise network market, currently locked into a classic Klopp vs. Mourinho battle between the old guard and the new.

A emerging generation of SD-WAN providers are driving a broader transformation, which could ultimately revolutionise the game. A little like Mexico, who burst out of the gates to a stunning 1-0 win against Germany.

Germany seemed entirely unprepared for a hungry Mexican team, with self-belief and a very clear tactical vision – the football equivalent of a creaking incumbent pitted against an agile tech start-up. As networks evolve, there will always be companies too slow or set in their ways to adapt.

Joachim Löw’s side could be forgiven for being complacent – they are the current world champions and have many trophies to their name, plus three European championships. What’s more, so many German fans have made the trip to Russia that it’s almost like the team were playing at home.

Many of the network service providers that dominated WAN for decades occupy a similarly comfortable position… but the cracks are beginning to appear. Just as they did in Italy versus The Netherlands, who both failed to even qualify for this year’s tournament.

Indeed, the World Cup is now full of teams that seemingly had little chance of competing with bigger opponents. Bucking those trends – Croatia dominating Argentina 3-0, for example – and other upsets are bound to follow over the summer.

Equally, we see those teams whose tactics haven’t changed much at all over the last half a century. Despite the wealth of skills and resources at their disposal, these teams continue to win games in the same old way. Check out Uruguay’s unconvincing victories so far as a case in point.

The same goes for enterprise branch office networking. SD-WAN will not always be the answer, and many organisations will carry on paying for WAN connectivity based on traditional on-premise routers and MPLS/leased line links. Whether these companies are locked into long term contracts or unable to look beyond their time-honoured relationships with existing hardware suppliers.

But just like watching Mexico and Liverpool is easy on the eye, SD-WAN offers some major attractions for IT staff tired of staring at the same old CLI and systems management console. For some, a more user-friendly interface will justify the ticket price alone, but the promise of enhanced application performance and cloud connectivity could be just as big a draw.

At the end of the day, footballers and SD-WAN adopters alike are kicking the tyres and seeking alternative ways to succeed. What’s more, the innovation is infectious. A thorough shake up of the enterprise network status quo is very much on the cards.