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Infographic: Compare the leading SD-WAN vendors before you buy

A good starting point on SD-WAN, this infographic provides a leading SD-WAN vendor comparison of their deployment options, pricing, cloud connectivity options and more.

Preparing for software-defined WAN deployment requires substantial research to determine what organizations need...

from their WANs. But with a growing number of options in this market, choosing which SD-WAN vendor to go with can be overwhelming. To help out, SearchSDN has compiled the infographic below that compares leading SD-WAN vendors.

Our editors focused on enterprise SD-WAN and only included vendors that directly offer an SD-WAN service to customers -- no middleware or resellers. This chart does not include fully managed SD-WAN options offered by service providers. In the chart below, you'll find a side-by-side comparison of 13 SD-WAN vendors -- listed alphabetically -- that addresses a variety of important features to consider, including security, WAN optimization, deployment options, public cloud connectivity and available pricing.

SD-WAN requirements considered "givens" are not broken out in the table. These include the following:

  • The SD-WAN platform should create an overlay that abstracts the existing WAN.
  • It should enable dynamic bandwidth allocation for traffic efficiency.
  • It should support transport-agnostic types of connectivity -- MPLS, Ethernet, cellular and broadband, for example. 
  • It's also important to ask what software-as-a-service partnerships the vendor has in place.
    SD-WAN vendor comparison table
    Compare SD-WAN vendors.

Additional questions to ask about SD-WAN

When looking for the right SD-WAN option for your company, it's a good idea to add the following questions to your list.

How easy is deployment and provisioning? The majority of SD-WAN vendors say they offer zero-touch provisioning. But even with that, remember, configuration for any organization's deployment will still take some time. It's a question of how much and how easy. Some vendors may require a few more steps before the SD-WAN connection is established -- compared with plugging cables into an SD-WAN device that automatically begins provisioning.

What routing and other protocols do vendors support? Check with each prospective SD-WAN vendor to determine which routing protocols -- such as Border Gateway Protocol, Open Shortest Path First and static routing -- its equipment supports. Also, factor in IPv6 support, if that is an important consideration for your organization. Versa Networks, for example, recently announced support for IPv6 addresses; Silver Peak also supports IPv6 forwarding. CloudGenix uses an approach that eliminates the need for routing protocols, but offers backing for standard routing protocols during a customer transition.

Does the SD-WAN platform require specialty edge devices? Are those devices available in both virtual and hardware options? Is the hardware proprietary, or can you use commodity hardware? Also, ask if the vendor equipment integrates with existing routers and environments.

What are the monitoring, management and reporting capabilities? Some SD-WAN vendors include management and monitoring capabilities with the SD-WAN platform; others work with third-party management tools; and some offer additional, more comprehensive software to purchase.

Next Steps

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This was last published in March 2017

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What factors would make a vendor's SD-WAN service stand out as a viable option for your organization?
Disclosure: I'm the technology evangelist in the office of the CTO for Cato Networks. The views expressed here are mine. 

Based on my experience working across SD-WAN vendors, engaging with dozens of IT managers directly, and in our recent survey of more than 350 IT professionals, a number of factors come to mind (in no particular order):
1. Easy transition. Hybrid configurations of SD-WAN and MPLS are a requirement for most enterprises. More than half of respondents to our survey expect MPLS investment to increase or stay the same. 
2. SLAs / predictability. IT managers need to accommodate for the erraticness of the Internet. In some cases, they only move applications from MPLS to the Internet that are less critical to the business and/or are not significantly impacted by changes in latency and loss. In other cases, they have technology preferences, looking for SD-WAN providers that run their own backbones or have loss/latency compensating technology. 
3. Security is very important. If the Internet is going to be the backbone then you need more than the encrypted tunnels of SD-WAN. Your vendor should articulate a strategy for delivering firewalling, secure web gateways, IPS, anti-malware etc. to branch offices without having to incur the latency of backhauling traffic. 
4. Cloud support is a given.  SD-WAN private cloud (AWS/Azure/Google etc.) support was a novelty at one time, but today it's essential for a complete enterprise. 
5. Rapid deployment. Should be obvious, but rapid installs continue to be a priority. It's not that way with every vendor. 
6. Maturity.  Company maturity and product stability - the things we always look at with new technologies - are equally important with SD-WANs. 
7. Management - It's a given that every vendor will provide centralized management of the SD-WAN. Understanding how that management involves others areas, such as security policies, is important.

For those interested. The complete survey results are available here.