SD-WAN Roundup: Bigleaf Networks Lays Claim to ‘Plug-n-Play’ Crown


**Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles on the state of SD-WAN, featuring perspectives from vendors and analysts. Check out our previous SD-WAN roundup featuring Zayo Group and Bill Kleyman.**

In a world of SD-WAN vendors that all sound alike, Bigleaf Networks relishes its differences.

Bigleaf on Tuesday announced $4.9 million in new equity investments. The company states that it will grow its sales and marketing efforts, network footprint and technology development. CEO and founder Joel Mulkey says the organization plans to triple its staff and add multiple regional channel managers.

Bulking up the channel team makes sense for Mulkey and co-founder Jeff Burchett, who call the investment round a “byproduct of channel success.” Burchett cites strong channel growth and new master-agent relationships over the last two years. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company started its channel program with Intelisys in 2015 and signed with CNSG, MicroCorp and Telarus in 2016. Telarus partners voted it the master agent’s best new supplier for 2016.

Bigleaf's Jeff Burchett

Bigleaf’s Jeff Burchett

“This investment is pretty much driven by the success we’ve had in the channel,” said Burchett, who serves as vice president of sales and marketing. “When we put together the plan for Bigleaf – when we got above ground – we knew we wanted to be a channel-focused company right out of the gate. That’s hard to do for a startup at the very beginning, because you have to build out that network of channel partners. You’ve got to convince them to give you a chance on some early deals.”

And what exactly does Bigleaf offer? The simplest description is “cloud-first” SD-WAN, meaning that the company focuses on cloud connectivity instead of private networks.

“It’s not SD-WAN to replace or augment MPLS networks; rather, it’s SD-WAN specifically purpose-built connectivity to public-facing cloud and SaaS applications. It’s less about building a more resilient hub-and-spoke private WAN. It’s more about ensuring that the voice in your UCaaS service is crystal clear and your desktop-as-a-service application and all your SaaS applications are available and performing the way you want,” Burchett said.

Mulkey says the benefits include dynamic quality of service (QoS) and IP failover.

“A customer who’s got a 30-person location can get the benefits that a giant enterprise could get from BGP, where they have a single IP block that works over all of their underlying Internet connections,” he said. “That enables seamless failover of all their applications, not just high priority apps like voice.”

Mulkey and Burchett note that Bigleaf has its own core network, which gives it full control over customers’ sensitive traffic and key business applications.

Bigleaf's Joel Mulkey

Bigleaf’s Joel Mulkey

“The core of our network is a platform that we operate. We own the hardware. We collocate the servers and routers and data centers. It’s under our full control,” Mulkey said.

The differentiator that sticks out the most is Bigleaf’s approach to security. Some vendors, such as Cato Networks,offer a built-in security platform, and others, such as VeloCloud, have security technology partner programs. But Bigleaf aims to place its SD-WAN between the customer’s existing firewall and ISP connection. The “zero-breach provisioning” is meant to work within …

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