Being a successful SD-WAN provider takes continuous innovation, offering a wide range of options, and effective support and simplicity, all in a highly competitive field.
Acquisitions like VMware buying VeloCloud, Cisco scooping up Viptela and Riverbed Technology buying Xirrus, have shaken the competitive landscape. And a myriad of players stand ready to tell everyone how their SD-WAN leaves everyone else’s in the dust.
Analysts, members of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board and other industry experts shared their views with us on what it now takes to succeed in SD-WAN.
“The largest single most heard appliance concern is costs,” said Rhonda Trainor, ScanSource’s director of merchandising and editorial advisory board member. “SD-WAN providers must be competitive to traditional connectivity, while making the product simple to implement and monitor. The ability to provide a complete overall solution to fit the needs of the customer … integrating with existing circuits if needed, adding application acceleration, adding security components, etc. Many suppliers may fit into an area or two, but adapting to what the customer’s real needs are is the key to providing the best overall cutting edge SD-WAN solution.”
SD-WAN providers are facing a stiff challenge from Cisco, said Matthew Toth, founder and lead consultant of Collaborative Communications Consulting (C3).
“Virtually every route/switch vendor out there changed gears quickly from selling iWAN (Cisco SD-WAN), an overly complex solution, to selling a simpler, better Viptela-based solution,” he said. “Since Viptela can be implemented as a virtual service on existing routers, customers find it appealing to implement SD-WAN without another device needing to be added. It is getting harder to compete in the SD-WAN space because there are at least a dozen reputable platforms competing today. If you’re going to break into that group, you’ve got to have a killer feature that most or all of the group is lacking today.”
Bryan Reynolds, TBI’s senior manager of post sales and editorial advisory board member, said higher-end SD-WAN providers now are “struggling with too much (firewall, WAN optimization, content filtering, intrusion detection, and intrusion prevention) on one box and the ability to deploy their solutions on the low-end appliance that they are currently running.”
“This is the way the market is headed so now SD-WAN providers are needing to deploy high availability virtual platforms to house their SD-WAN solution on the customer premise[s],” he said.
Harry Paparizos, Clarify360’s vice president of engineering, said customers consistently want six features in an SD-WAN provider: zero-touch installation; remote-device elimination; service chaining/insertion; automated IP address discovery; brown-out resiliency; and voice-quality scoring for voice applications.
“Successful providers are offering all of these features in a platform that offers cloud-based management, application awareness, and a centralized policy engine,” he said. “Many of these offerings are table stakes or they should be. Be cognizant of them as you compare providers.”
Based on feedback from analysts, editorial advisory board members, recent news reports and Gartner’s Competitive Landscape: WAN Edge report, we’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of 20 top SD-WAN providers – a mix of pure-play types and SD-WAN partners – that are making the most of the current competitive landscape and charting success.
Click through our gallery below to see who made our list and why.
Bryan Reynolds, Matthew Toth and Rhonda Trainor point to VeloCloud, which is now owned by VMware, as a successful provider. VMware says more than 1,000 customers have adopted VeloCloud’s offering. VeloCloud’s number of service-provider partners has exceeded 50, including AT&T, Sprint and Windstream.“VeloCloud is leading the forefront here, and [those] choosing a VeloCloud provider that [have] enhanced the VeloCloud offering even further to meet specific hardware and application needs are the ones that are floating to the [top],” Reynolds said. “However, there are several SD-WAN providers that have their sights set on VeloCloud and could easily pass them. The big question is, do these competitors have the support and distribution to compete? Having the best solution is of little use if it isn’t wrapped with the appropriate level of support.”
“Aryaka helped bring much of this into the mainstream market, particularly as you take SD-WAN international,” Trainor said.
Reynolds said Aryaka is “more of a true MPLS replacement with global reach” and “super fast deployment.”
Last month, Aryaka ranked ahead of all other SD-WAN players in the FeaturedCustomers’ 2018 SD-WAN Customer Success Report. Market leaders are categorized in the report as vendors with sizable market share and a substantial customer base.
FatPipe Networks is cited by Brian Washburn, practice leader for Ovum's network transformation and cloud services, as a strong SD-WAN provider, and Gartner calls the company an “evolutionary disruptor, pivoting from an early focus on access bonding and link load balancing to a fully featured SD-WAN offering.”
“FatPipe of course is one of the progenitors in the space,” Washburn said. “Very sophisticated platform, though the operator is quite small relative to its many newer entrants in the space.”
Last week, FatPipe announced it is collaborating with Lepton Global Solutions to optimize SD-WAN over satellite for VSAT customers.
Numerous companies are partnering to build SD-WAN solutions around Cisco Meraki and Cisco IWAN, Rhonda Trainor said.
“Companies like Netwolves, for instance, are building out solution sets around Cisco technologies,” she said. “The nice thing is they in turn can build out a custom SD-WAN solution that makes the most sense given the customer’s environment, add in security, monitoring, procure circuits, etc.”
IHS Markit recently cited Cisco among the clear leaders in SD-WAN following its purchase of Viptela.
Rhonda Trainor said CradlePoint is among brands cited as the best and most successful, and Gartner calls it an “evolutionary disruptor, working to expand its SD-WAN and software-defined, OTT-managed network offerings.”
Last month, CradlePoint rolled out a new NetCloud solution package for mobile that provides SD-WAN to first responders, transit operators, and other field force and fleet-based organizations that rely on in-vehicle and mobile networks with 4G LTE connectivity.
Brian Washburn said Masergy has an interesting success story in the SD-WAN market.
“Masergy is a pioneer in many areas — it’s interesting in SD-WAN because it supports Silver Peak but also implemented its own SD-WAN platform,” he said. “And it married SD-WAN with SDN very early on, so the applications can request bandwidth and class of service from the network underlay. On yet another note, Masergy was an early NFV adopter, and was able early on to mix physical and virtual devices, at customer premises and inside its network, under the SD-WAN umbrella.”
In December, Masergy unveiled several enhancements to its managed SD-WAN offering. SD-WAN Go now has application routing, automatic path control and an embedded firewall and router. Masergy says the update helps customers use commodity internet bandwidth to decrease costs, and it speeds up deployment with same-day provisioning.
Matthew Toth and Rhonda Trainor cite Cato Networks as a strong contender in the SD-WAN market, and Gartner calls it a “revolutionary disruptor, offering a blend of SD-WAN plus security as a service to the midmarket.”
“Another one that is coming on strong lately is Cato Networks,” Trainor said. “They, too, can provide not only the SD-WAN pieces, but also the security components as well as international components.”
In January, Cato reported significantly increased sales velocity with sequential booking growth accelerating to 100 percent quarter-over-quarter last year. Also, the average deal size increased 400 percent.
Talari Networks is on Matthew Toth’s list of the best and most successful SD-WAN providers, and Gartner calls it an “evolutionary disruptor, pivoting from its initial link-bonding focus to a broader SD-WAN offering.”
On its 10th anniversary of shipping product, in February, Talari announced that it had achieved record new customer account growth of 175 percent quarter-over-quarter. It also boasted 98 percent renewals on existing business; and organic product revenue growth of 67 percent.
Matthew Toth said he’s a big fan of Bigleaf Networks, with Gartner calling it an “evolutionary disruptor, working to expand its managed network service offering.”
In January, Bigleaf capped off a $4.9 million round of equity investment, and said it will use the new financing to increase its sales, marketing, operations, technology development and network footprint. CEO Joel Mulkey founded the company in 2012 to provide a “plug-‘n’-play” SD-WAN option that emphasizes cloud connectivity and supports VPNs.
Rhonda Trainor said CloudGenix is “another great SD-WAN company that is building momentum around not only their domestic U.S. options, but also the International space.” Last year, CloudGenix was cited as an SD-WAN innovator by IDC.
Bryan Reynolds also considers CloudGenix among the best SD-WAN providers.
“More competition is popping up,” Trainor said. “Some large manufacturers easily get the attention due to name recognition. Smaller brands have to try and gain traction in the marketplace, but have some interesting technology. The market is slowly being saturated with SD-WAN solutions. Everyone seems to offer ‘something’ around SD-WAN, even if it means offering the same exact thing their competitor does.”
Silver Peak is frequently cited as an SD-WAN success story, Rhonda Trainor said. The company has evolved its focus from a leading WAN optimization vendor to an SD-WAN vendor for a secure hybrid WAN, and Gartner calls it an “evolutionary disruptor.”
Silver Peak capped off 2017 by announcing that 600 enterprise clients had deployed its Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN offering. Frost & Sullivan puts Silver Peak at third in market share with 12.7 percent, trailing VeloCloud and Cisco-Viptela.
Gartner said Riverbed “missed the early SD-WAN opportunity,” but it is now leveraging its installed base of some 20,000 accounts and its established channels, including relationships with carriers such as Orange Business Services" to accelerate growth.
Gartner lists Citrix as an “evolutionary disruptor, pivoting from its WAN optimization controller (WOC) focus to an SD-WAN-plus-WOC offering.”Citrix recently announced it is expanding its SD-WAN offering for service providers to provide delivery of SD-WAN as a service by network and MSPs. A recent report by Transparency Market Research lists Citrix as one of the prominent participants in global SD-WAN.
“Another good choice that many companies are looking at adopting are based on Versa Networks,” Rhonda Trainor said. “They really do a good job of adding security and unified threat protection — Nitel and Centurylink are examples of companies that are partnering with Versa.”
Gartner says Ecessa is an “evolutionary disruptor, pivoting from its initial focus on path selection to a more capable WAN edge offering.” Its SD-WAN offering is mainly focused on WAN virtualization for the purpose of link load balancing, improved network performance and availability, it said.
MegaPathMegaPath last fall expanded the security capabilities of its managed SD-WAN service portfolio to provide higher levels of security and threat intelligence.
BCN Telecom is an example of a successful SD-WAN provider, Rhonda Trainor said. Last fall, the company completed a full rollout of its SD-WAN offering. It also was the first Windstream Wholesale service-provider partner to resell the business-communications giant’s SD-WAN.
"The ultimate goal of any SD-WAN solution is coupling multiple connections together regardless of type — MPLS, DIA, wireless, etc.," she said. "There are several that can look to replace MPLS or traditional networking, but can’t integrate with the existing infrastructure to create what I call a hybrid SD-WAN solution. Being adaptable and being able to provide solutions to the issues at hand for the customer is key."
Gartner said up-and-comer Nuage Networks from Nokia is an “evolutionary disruptor, pivoting from its data-center-focused SDN offering to offer a single end-to-end, data-center-to-branch-office SDN solution.”
“Many international operators weren’t in the first wave of SD-WAN but have started to do interesting things, most frequently with Nuage/Nokia,” Washburn said.
“An effective SD-WAN solution is one that will meet all of a current customer’s needs with the ability to scale for future requirements without having to do a rip and replace of the SD-WAN appliance,” Bryan Reynolds said.