Analysing the top best or top 10 SD WAN providers and vendors is not an easy task unless you decide to simply create a list of the main telcos, vendors and providers creating the most hype. In actual fact, surrounding the usual suspects are niche providers that may not be on your list but are disrupting the market with net promoter scores of over 70. The question is, how do you create a decent enough list for your UK, US or Global business?
I'm writing this article to coincide with the launch of our new SD WAN provider and vendor comparison portal. (Don't worry, there's a list of 10 Software WAN providers and vendors to get you started in this article). The portal is a free tool available for UK or Global IT teams which provides access to intellectual property surrounding the telecoms marketplace.
Our intent is to disrupt the SD WAN procurement process by removing the friction surrounding the buying process. The portal is designed to drastically reduce the time taken to evaluate the SD WAN market by leveraging data points across the UK and US. We offer the ability to view every large telco, provider and vendor together with new disrupters and niche players you are not yet familiar with due to the noise generated by SD WAN marketing. The data is displayed in a comparison matrix to help evaluate capability.
Once you have created a list of potential solutions, our portal capability provides IT teams with extensive knowledge of the software WAN market via powerful feature reports. The data has been created on the Salesforce Communities platform ensuring the very latest knowledge and facts are available. We're also able to use the Salesforce platform to request pricing from almost all major service offerings avoiding the need to initially engage with sales teams.
What is the challenge with SD WAN provider selection?
There is often trepidation when IT are tasked with engaging sales teams. The reasons are simple enough, making contact requires comittment to the provider or vendor sales process. The endless calls, the chasing, emails and so forth. Of course, there are good reasons to follow through in this way - you need to align requirements in order to create a capability. In conclusion, the challenge is normally two-fold.
1. To create a list of providers requires a knowledge of the marketplace. We mentioned earlier that most IT teams are able to create a simple list. In fact, this very blog post includes the top 10 SD WAN providers for your review. But what about the service providers you may not be aware of, the disrupters?
2. Once you build a list, the next step is to make contact to begin the provider selection process requiring time investment and an inate ability to see through the marketing hype.
If we accept the average IT team isn't aware of the niche marketplace, some kind of resource is required to conduct research. Access to the tools, the ability to research providers is all available for free via our technology navigator. We not only support SD WAN research but also Cloud, Colocation, Security and UCAAS to compliment your complete IT strategy. With each product area, our clients are able to either complete a quick assessment form to fast start their research or go deeper with in-depth provider assessments and reports.
If you or your IT team are beginning to consider a move to SD WAN services, I’ll walk you through some key areas to consider to assist with some of the huge hype around cost savings and capability. The end goal of any IT team is to navigate the confusing array of benefits within the UK, US and Global marketplace.
Who are the best or top 10 SD WAN providers?
Before we continue with the article, for IT teams tasked with creating a top 10 list of providers, the following will help to kickstart your project.
The following is a list of 10 main SD WAN providers and vendors with some detail regarding their platform and solution. (Request access to our tool for comprehensive comparison research)
1. Versa - Edge based, physical appliance with advanced Firewall capability, session based with the possibility of almost real time packet traffic handling. Path selection is achieved by monitoring loss, delay and jitter to establish the best path. Support for 4G cellular connectivity.
2. Aryaka - Perceived as a true MPLS alternative with 25 PoP sites provisioned across the Globe based on private connectivity (not simply Internet). One of their unique aspects is their SLA covering a complete managed service with 99.99% SLA and NPS of 65 with built-in WAN optimisation. Security is perhaps not their leading capability with advanced Firewall provided via partners.
3. Oracle (Talari) - With a Global SLA across connectivity and network security, true data centre and cloud access, Talari is a good offer for replacing or enhancing MPLS connectivity.
4. Cisco Meraki - Viewed as a DIY capability or co-managed, Meraki represents a true Internet-only proposition. While Meraki can be configured with MPLS, the current capability could present issues. Ideal for reporting, quick deployment with comprehensive support for WiFI and CCTV. Cisco are offering demo kit, see here for more information.
5. Viptela - The more capable big brother of Meraki, Viptela is more configurable for complex large Enterprise business. With Zero Touch Provisioning, Viptela is differentiated vs Meraki in respect of being able to build out private cloud via KVM and VMware but more preparation work is required with regards to architecture.
6. Fortinet - Highly secure (as you would expect) Cloud-based solution, though on premises is possible, with packet traffic handling. Fortinet is a known quantity to many businesses, the ability to manage devices via a single management portal offers significant benefits.
7. Silver Peak - Available as on premises or cloud-based, one core feature is their ability to base optimisation on SaaS via WAN edge egress points. When matched up with FEC (Forward Error Correction), applications are supported over all connectivity types. Security is again basic with advanced Firewall capability offered via partners.
8. Velocloud - Formed out of VMWare, Velocloud immediately receives the benefit of serious network device expertise. One key difference is their creation of 100 Global public gateways offering consistent network performance with seriously comprehensive cloud-based application and service access. Controller is a pure cloud-based SD WAN product offering.
9. CATO - Software-based solution with next generation Firewall security capability with application intent routing and policy based priority. Packet treatment is session based with the option to select packet based.
10. British Telecom - It would remiss of us not to mention BT. With a Global footprint and alignment to the majority of SD WAN vendors, BT is a good option for companies looking to their telco for an SD WAN solution. Connectivity is their key strength with MPLS, VPLS and Internet available globally.
We have written a number of articles which may help you with research:
Further detail such as market share is available.
The above is a good starter list but as a UK or US IT Manager, how many of the following is known to you as potential suppliers?
How our portal compares features?
One of the major challenges surrounding WAN procurement involves ascertaining the initial high level feature comparison of each provider. As I write this article, our portal is currently displaying in excess of 60 providers and vendors ranging from well known telcos to niche providers that perhaps offer significant value but lack brand awareness.
Our data analytics quickly narrows down the field depending on your base set of requirements via the SD WAN matrix overview. In this view, the data is displayed as tiles which are removed as you add requirements which certain providers and vendors do not offer. As an example, you may need to support MPLS over your SD WAN. When selecting MPLS as a requirement, the matrix will only display the data aligned to this specific need.
When we select a vendor or provider, data points are available including Global contacts, an overview of the company, their marketing material and one pagers which you’ll be able to share with your peers. The one page documents are a great way to view capability at a glance.
We offer the ability to select from:
- Vendor support (I.e. you could select Fortinet if you only required SD WAN capability created within the Fortinet portfolio).
- Managed services (i.e. select from co-managed, part managed or self service) National or Global coverage (i.e. view the matrix of SD WAN offerings which support the Global Enterprise)
While the above may not appear to represent huge selection criteria, the results are displayed as a complete comparison table with each software provider and vendor detailing their features and ability next to the other. Once in this view, you can delete the offerings as required which will end up with a number of providers that are fit for purpose. And then, generate reports which can be shared with peers to begin your procurement project.
Alongside SD WAN data points, access to cloud services and data centres compliments your analysis detail. In general, the hybrid WAN architecture model will result in the need to analyse more than just the SD WAN market. In respect to our portal, the tool allows you to search Global cloud, data centre and UCAAS with granular information of capability. As an example, we can narrow down providers with specific accreditations or feature sets vs your requirements. Once you select a Datacentre, you can examine where public cloud nodes exist including Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google. The data even includes earthquake and nuclear risk.
However, for those of you willing to put in the time, there is the capability to create reports to learn more about the market.
The Battlecard provider and vendor overviews and SD WAN case studies
We mentioned the ability to click on a business earlier. Once you click, the tool will display the complete contacts details of all resources associated with any given service provider. More than this, you can click for Battlecard analysis detailing an overview of the proposition, their company reach, case studies and more. This kind of detail is very powerful as the content is available as a PDF meaning you can easily transpose to a nice analysis report for your peers. All Battlecards are exactly the same for every single provider or vendor to ensure you know exactly where to look for the required information.
In addition to the PDF content, case studies are available from the portal. All new case studies are included, you can actually search for the content you need. As an example, find out why certain customers selected a provider. Who else has used this provider in your industry? Within the provider portfolio tab, there’s a huge amount of options to really analyse the details you need.
What details are available across providers and vendors?
The information provided surrounds both technical ability, partnerships and company status. If we use Aryaka as an example, the tool will generate data points including:
- When was the company formed Headquarters
- YoY (Year on Year) growth
- Customer retention
- Country availability
- Features such as application treatment and acceleration
- Their customers Partnerships, e.g. SAP, Office 365, Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure
- Any awards
It is then possible to request further detail and comparison with other providers via the SD WAN matrix which produces data points in a direct compare and contrast table.
- Licensing model Differentiation
- Support for technologies such as 4G/5G/LTE
- Failover capability
- Cloud Path Selection
- Traffic handling WAN optimisation
- Firewall functionality
- Controller location
- SD WAN architecture
- Gartner magic quadrant
How to establish network services connectivity vs your specific location?
One of the key enablers to SD WAN technology is the underlying connectivity vs your specific locations. We offer the ability to view fibre routing across the UK and USA using mapping that details which providers are outside of your location and their nearest nodes. And even whether your specific office is on-net with certain telcos.
The information is pertinent to the world of SD WAN as the use of Internet connectivity is aligned with cost saving and public cloud access. In general, Network Union recommend the use of single backbone ISP connectivity to meet the best possible latency and jitter across applications.
SD WAN offers so much in terms of technology benefits but the underlying connectivity remains a consideration regardless of feature set.
At Network Union, we're shocked by the lack of Interest in WAN connectivity vs SD WAN features. In respect of national connectivity, application performance is perhaps not so much of an issue but the Global Enterprise must keep the focus on general latency and jitter performance. SD WAN optimisation, load balancing, path selection, security, cloud and cost savings are all key elements to focus on when preparing your list. In many respects, the specific needs of your business means every top / best list will be based on specific requirements. In other words, consideration must be given to your requirements in order to understand which SD WAN platform is a great fit.