Acquiring SD-WAN - Your Choices
Updated: Mar 4
The SD-WAN Market
There are over 40 SD-WAN providers in the market already. They fall into three distinct camps:
Technology companies (Product Vendors) who develop SD-WAN technology
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) who build service propositions around SD-WAN technology and acquire networks from network providers/carriers
Network providers and carriers themselves who have their own technology or integrate third-party solutions
The general categories listed above are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but the correct choice or choices largely depend on your needs, your budget, the direction you want to take, and the degree to which you need help with the selection and technical aspects. This latter point being where a virtual ‘fourth’ category exists – that of Technology Advisor.
An impartial approach to provider choice
Technology Advisors such as Tagoro don’t have an internally developed product or technology. We are designed to function as independent entities that can help you sort through the available options based on the specifics needs, budgets, and legacy infrastructure of your company. Our role is to do the necessary legwork, understanding the differentiators among the various offerings as well as those of the vendors that provide them.
Aside from helping with the pre-sales phase of the engagement and purchase of the service, Tagoro can also play a key role supporting you thoughout the process of onboarding and beyond. We also bring impartial knowledge and expertise in complimentary technologies and services which may not be the chosen vendors strong suit.
In short, Technology Advisors like Tagoro are a useful ally, an impartial resource helping you get the right service and the best deal, committed to making the deployment and experience a success.
For a no obligation assessment and SD-WAN vendor shortlist focussed on your needs please do get in touch.
SD-WAN Product Vendors
These are the companies that develop the software, products and solutions that deliver the technology of SD-WAN.
They fall into two basic camps: SD-WAN vendors who entered the market as start-ups, and those which have their roots in some other related technology, typically networking or security.
Though neither group carries a distinct advantage against the other, it’s important to keep in mind that the latter category comes to SD-WAN as an extension of their previous strategy. Buyers will therefore want to evaluate these offerings based on their specific functionality, and further remember that SD-WAN products and solutions don’t yet have industry-standard interoperability.
Buying a vendor’s native technology solution may require deployment and management of the SD-WAN network. No different to the old ways: you buy the applicance or software, some professional services, and run it yourself. It can be a DIY approach, unless you acquire that technology as part of a service through a MSP or carrier (see sections below). That said, some of the provider's below own and operate their own technology, available as a managed service.
REPRESENTATIVE VENDORS: Bigleaf Networks, Cato Networks, Open Systems, Cloudgenix, Fortinet, Cisco (Viptela / Meraki); Oracle (Talari); Silverpeak; Aryaka; VMware (Velocloud); Riverbed; Nokia (Nuage)
SD-WAN through Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
This category may, in many respects, function in a model very similar to the carrier, except that MSPs are not likely to have their own network beyond, perhaps bundling third-party on-ramps to the network of a much larger service provider. MSPs use vendor products mentioned previously, sometimes with a portfolio of vendors to choose from, to deliver a turn-key SD-WAN solution and are not themselves the technology developer of SD-WAN.
MSPs will argue that they are the best choice for SD-WAN implementations because some offer the ability to aggregate billing and support of circuits from various carriers. However, to some extent this is something a carrier can offer as well.
REPRESENTATIVE MSPs: Expereo, Exponential-e; many, many regionalised providers
SD-WAN from Carriers
Carriers typically offer SD-WAN as an add-on service to their data circuits and related offerings, and act as an MSP.
Most carrier providers have taken the step of selling SD-WAN without requiring any of their circuits as part of the solution. This approach combats one of the standalone SD-WAN solution providers key differentiators – the independence of network providers. However about one-in-five require at least some portion of the SD-WAN network to run over their own data network. Carriers will argue that owning the network provides them a better end-to-end experience of the implementation.
The SD-WAN solutions are based on the vendor technologies mentioned previously. This may come as a one-size-fits-all type of proposition; in which case you won’t be able to make vendor selections or choose among other options for the underlying technology. But what you give up in terms of choices may be counterbalanced through greatly enhanced simplicity, plus the ability to negotiate lower rates by signing up for a more expansive service package. On the other hand, the more your communications needs are met by any one single source, the more you become susceptible to outages, carrier-targeted security breaches, and other issues.
REPRESENTATIVE CARRIERS: Aryaka (using own); Aptum (using Nuage); CenturyLink (using Versa, Cisco Meraki/Viptela); GTT (using Velocloud), Masergy (using Fortinet, Silverpeak and others); Tata (using Versa, Cisco Meraki/Viptela); Zayo (using Versa); China Telecom (using Versa and Silverpeak)
As technology / service advisors Tagoro are not restricted to a single technology or service. We cover the full range, representing the market and leading clients to make the right choices in respect of which technology and service best suits their needs. Once a shortlist is made Tagoro can make introductions to SD-WAN companies of all flavours, and help manage the process of acquisition, onboarding and, where needed, assist with deployment.
If your team is looking at SD-WAN solutions, get in touch with Tagoro. We've done the hard yards of assessing the market and can build a list of list providers and vendors aligned to your specific requirements or review your own with deep insight into suitability based on our research and direct experience. We have relationships with all the vendors and providers listed and are expert at managing the acquisition process.