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SD-WAN Roundup: 3 Key Factors for Vendor Selection, Cato Tackles Remote Working

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The best SD-WAN vendor is the one that fits your customer’s needs.

Benjamin Niernberg, executive vice president of MNJ Technologies, urged fellow partners to understand that “not all SD-WAN is created equal.”

“They’re not all the same,” Niernberg told Channel Partners. “And they are all specialized in that they do certain things better than each other.”

Niernberg said MNJ interviews its customers about their most important applications and needs. This discovery process allows his team to understand a few of the client’s key technology postures.

“The thing I always wished is that we stopped focusing on, ‘Our device and our product is better than their product,’ and we started to really focus on, ‘Give me the things that are most mission-critical, the applications that are the most critical to the business, and how can we impact that,'” Niernberg said.

MNJ Technologies' Ben Niernberg

MNJ Technologies’ Ben Niernberg

MNJ’s discovery process explores the business’ collaboration and voice strategy, its cloud and data center strategy and – last but certainly not least – its security strategy. The customer’s priorities will go a long way in identifying the most suitable SD-WAN platform, according to Niernberg.

“If I’ve got a customer that says voice is the most mission-critical thing there is, Oracle‘s the first product that would come to mind,” he said. “Not that it’s the only product, but it’s the first product.”

On the other hand, CloudGenix could be the best fit for a retail company in need of cloud-based SD-WAN with point-of-sale (POS) integration.

Niernberg said the biggest question of all is how the customer wants to do security.

“Talk to me about security, because I may think Oracle’s the best product or CloudGenix is the best product or Silver Peak is the best product, but when we get into a security discussion, that may change based on the security need and the importance of the security needs of that customer,” he said.

The security conversation touches on multiple points, including policy – like how much the customer wants to restrict its employees’ internet access at work – and how the customer wants to house its security.

“Are we going to run a firewall with an actual next-gen appliance at the edge in front of an SD-WAN device? Are we going to backhaul traffic and have a single firewall where all data goes through in a colo-neutral facility or in the cloud? Are companies looking at things like Zscaler or Palo Alto cloud?” Niernberg said.

SASE

We asked Niernberg for his take on the Gartner-coined phrase “secure access service edge” — more succinctly known as SASE. Companies like Palo Alto, Cato Networks and Open Systems have leaned heavily into the description recently.

Niernberg said the phrase aptly describes the crucial question networking professionals have been asking over the last two years.

“I think all Gartner did was put an acronym to what customers have already started talking about, which was: How are you creating secure access at the edge? Is a service provider doing it with SD-WAN? Are you going to run security at the edge? Are you going to run it in the cloud?” he said.

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