SD-WAN is rapidly becoming a cornerstone next-gen IT service embraced by companies of all sizes. Some of the benefits of software-defined wide area networks are cloud security, easier hybrid cloud deployment and applications performance management.
What many companies will tell you off-the-record is they also see SD-WAN as an opportunity to reduce their dependence on legacy networking vendors – although even the traditional networking companies have made strategic acquisitions in the space.
Perhaps the biggest reason companies need SD-WAN today is their dependence on cloud instead of their corporate data centers means they need to rethink how they deploy and optimize their wide area networks. In other words, if corporate CRM systems now use the cloud instead of a local server, how can organizations ensure sufficient performance levels on the screens of their customer-facing associates? Ditto for UCaaS, hosted contact center and other applications which need appropriate response times.
Some of the other benefits of SD-WAN according to Futurium (PDF) include:
- COTS or commercial off the shelf-based hardware supporting their networking initiatives. This reduces cost dramatically and can be potentially less complex to operate. Certainly, replacing failed equipment becomes a lot easier in this scenario as spare computers are typically more common than spare switches.
- Cloud VPNs can be deployed easily and providers can bolt on additional services like increased encryption levels and intrusion detection or IDS.
- WAN Optimization is sort of a given – as a side benefit, the enterprise can enjoy lower costs thanks to less reliance on MPLS.
- Application Performance Enhancement in other words, SD-WAN allows networks to take advantage of ADC-type performance levels or better without the need for the proprietary box.
- Broadband Link Balancing allows a company to take advantage of the best broadband service depending on the application. As a side benefit, it also allows connectivity in the case of a failure of one of the providers. For increased redundancy, LTE can be added to the mix as a third choice if only two wired providers are available.
- Network as a Service allows a corporation to purchase their network the way they purchase other services such as voice or CRM. In our interview with Paul Anderson a few months back, we detailed how Array Networks allows MSPs to take on the legacy router vendors using such a model.
- Improved Transport Options
- Better Security
- Intelligent Pathway Control
- Automatic Provisioning
Some of the SD-WAN companies to consider in 2018 are as follows:
1) TPx Communications offers a use-case driven SD-WAN powered product. Vice-President, Managed IT Services Group, Jared Martin told us the following:
ITx for WAN brings scalable, tested, and supportable features to market vs. supporting any and every feature offered by the OEM. We’re definitely focused on quality and reliability. TPx operates and maintains its own network to deliver the completed service and only leverages the SD-WAN vendor’s technology to enable the service. TPx is constantly taking feedback from customers and partners and refining our offer based on that feedback. We introduced a new 4G LTE primary access in Q3 2017 that broke the traditional barriers for broadband access – really making it available most locations across the country with no need to wait for fiber buildouts!
2) Airespring’s Danial Lonstein, the COO tells us the following about his company:
As a nationwide network operator and aggregator, AireSpring is uniquely suited to address this customer pain point. Most multi-location enterprises are normally forced to work with multiple network vendors. The larger and more geographically dispersed, the larger the number of vendors which could be dozens or more, including broadband providers, metro Ethernet vendors, telco carriers, etc. Each of these vendors have their own service contract, SLAs, and terms and conditions. Each location would also tend to need a network manager and staff to look after the network and deal with any issues that come up. With SD-WAN gateways installed throughout AireSpring’s core network, you are able to fully mesh and interconnect your SD-WAN with any carrier, circuit or technology via AireSpring’s network, which acts as the “glue” over multiple transport types—Ethernet, Fiber, Broadband, LTE, EOC, TDM and more. Additionally connect with a wide range of AireSpring solutions, including MPLS, UCaaS, SIP Trunking and Internet.
3) TELoIP was an early mover in the space. Kevin Suitor the CMO tells us the following:
We’ve been providing innovative SDN/SD-WAN solutions for business since 2002. Our initial focus was on delivering the promise of the internet for business and we earned 21 patents to-date focused upon increasing the speed, reliability and performance for voice, video and data services over broadband. Beginning around 2010, many of our multi-site customers ran managed VPN solutions using our solutions delivering a software-defined performance boost as a cost-effective MPLS replacement, by today’s standards these were early SD-WAN deployments. Further TELoIP innovation led to the official launch of VINO SD-WAN product line in March of 2016. VINO SD-WAN combined our patented last-mile broadband optimization solution (VINO SD-Internet) and orchestration portal (VINO Portal) with a multi-tenant control plane that provides secure end-to-end multi-point encryption scalable to over 10,000 end-points.
4) Dan Foster, the COO of Megapath had this to say about the company’s position in the space:
MegaPath offers several key advantages compared to other SD-WAN providers:
- Best-of-breed, multi-vendor approach to SD-WAN and Security, giving businesses the flexibility to build a solution that’s the right fit for their business needs, size and budget.
- Fully-managed service that includes full-solution design engineering, dedicated project management, and white-glove support
- 100% U.S.-based expert technical support, available 24/7/365
- 100% Uptime SLA with SD-WAN Enterprise package, guaranteeing substantial service credits equal to $1,000 or 50% of monthly recurring charges, whichever is greater.
- Free Proactive Circuit monitoring for all circuits, including 3rd-party circuits (non-MegaPath provided)
- MegaPath’s expertise combined with its broad portfolio gives real value to partners that desire a broad range of high-value services from a single nationwide provide
5) Bill Rumancik, Senior Marketing Director with Enterprise Solutions at Hughes Network Systems had this to say:
Hughes’ heritage (40+ years) is in hardware and software development and system integration that started with building satellite networks. We are unique amongst major managed service providers (MSP) in that we provide a combination of strong technology and engineering capabilities coupled with service delivery. The HughesON Managed SD-WAN solution leverages our engineering heritage to deliver an industry leading distributed SD-WAN solution specifically designed for highly distributed organizations.
Our ActiveTechnologies suite is comprised of four key features: ActiveQoS, ActiveClassifier, ActiveCompression, and ActivePath.
- ActiveQoS dynamically characterizes broadband connections (capacity, latency, packet loss, etc.) to effectively apply QoS to critical retail applications such as VoIP and POS transactions.
- ActiveCompression utilizes a powerful two-stage adaptive algorithm to provide the best data reduction possible across the WAN and provide additional capacity for branch applications.
- ActiveClassifier automatically identifies and prioritizes individual application flows based on their traffic behavior and domain name. This allows critical and real-time apps, such as VoIP and POS to be prioritized over bulk or batch workloads, such as email attachments or software downloads without requiring application specific configurations.
- ActivePath enables an always-on secure SD-WAN overlay that uses intelligent path control to choose the optimal path while preventing brownouts or blackouts on individual paths from impacting the user experience.
Our SD-WAN was designed with the end-user in mind. ActivePath includes several technologies, such as Intelligent Multipath Replication (IMR), which steers critical flows (such as VoIP) simultaneously over multiple transport to ensure the voice packets arrive as needed for a great customer experience. ActivePath is also aware of metered broadband connections (such as 4G/LTE) so potentially expensive bandwidth is only utilized when it is most needed, thus saving the customer money while improving application uptime.
As an MSP, Hughes will normally provide a turn-key Managed SD-WAN network service, inclusive of broadband provisioning, installation, maintenance, configuration, operation, and helpdesk functions. For many distributed enterprise customers, our Managed SD-WAN offering is typically integrated into a single branch CPE with multipath optimization, routing, and security functions to minimize branch complexity and cost. The SD-WAN gateways can reside at either a Hughes or Customer datacenter with multiple datacenters being active to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery.
6) Mike Frane, VP Product Management at Windstream explained his company’s positioning as follows:
- Windstream offers a fully manages “white glove” SD-WAN Concierge service. We provide a dedicated Technical Service Manager (TSM) who provides personalized guidance, analyzes network and application performance and recommends actions needed improve application performance.
- The Windstream SD-WAN Management Tool provides complete visibility and control in a single interface, including zero-touch configuration for new locations, services, and security policies. Customers are able to set business policies, prioritize applications by location, user and time/date—and make real-time changes to dynamically optimize performance and customer experience. No other service provider puts this much control into the hands of the enterprise IT team. The Windstream management tool allows the customer to view and control their network they way that they want to, providing the ability to personalize their information and views
- Windstream deployed SD-WAN over a Cloud Core Network Architecture designed to improve cloud-based application performance with diverse, low latency connections to cloud providers as well as Windstream provided services. We enable dynamic traffic steering in real time to provide the flexibility, agility, and reliability to deliver superior application performance and a consistent differentiating customer experience.
- Windstream’s ISP heritage gives us broad experience in building hybrid networks by providing Cable Broadband, LEC Broadband, Cellular Internet and other asymmetrical access options in addition to the more traditional Ethernet and TDM access that have historically been the go-to access for Enterprises
There you have it. SD-WAN will shake up the networking market and become the bedrock of digital transformation in corporations everywhere. There are numerous companies in the space – some provide hardware, others software and some, SD-WAN as a service. Your enterprise has many options to consider with new entrants seemingly entering the space by the week.
Perhaps the best way to absorb all the industry has to offer is to attend a conference and meet with the companies in the space, face-to-face. The largest exposition in the market is SD-WAN Expo February 14-16th, 2018, collocated with ITEXPO in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Aside from an all-encompassing education track, there will be a bustling exhibit hall with all the crucial SD-WAN companies and everyone else where you can make your product and service selections.