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BT SD WAN Explained: Guide to Buying Solutions

What is BT SD WAN?

BT SD WAN is a networking solution backed by six vendors: Versa, Meraki, Nuage, Viptela, Prisma by Palo Alto, and Fortinet. The BT service integrates with BTnet leased lines and BT Global Services Internet. BT SD WAN offers SASE Cybersecurity, including NGFW, ZTNA, SWG, CASB, MDR, DLP, IAM, and real-time threat detection.

BT SD WAN Explained: Guide to Buying Solutions

BT SD WAN Solutions offer enhanced flexibility, centralised management, and improved security measures for dealing with modern networking challenges and digital transformation. As technology evolves and the demands on networks increase, the BT SD WAN portfolio offer 6 vendor solutions which each meet the needs of different business use cases across the SME market and large Enterprise business. In this article, we'll explain each SD WAN vendor capability, their features and list some case studies.

There are a variety of product options available, each of which can be paired with BT underlay services in the form of BTnet leased lines in the UK and BT Global Services Internet for Global requirements. And, where required, BT support MPLS, VPLS and Private Line services for Hybrid WAN architecture. Each solution includes cloud-enabled co-managed and fully managed options with access to Azure, AWS and Google Cloud. In addition, the portfolio supports the full range of SASE Cybersecurity features for both simple and complex requirements.

Key Takeaways

BT SD WAN Solutions Overview@2x

BT SD WAN Solutions Overview

BT SD WAN offers advantages which includes UK and Global network connectivity with excellent latency and jitter to increase the performance of for cloud-based applications. The platform is capable of delivering diverse and resilient WAN configurations with the use of different media transports including Secondary Leased Lines, MPLS circuits, SOGEA & FTTP broadband Internet, and LTE/4G/5G.

When comparing all 6 BT SD WAN solutions, it is vital to consider differentiating factors across each vendor. These BT vendors provide centralised management, dynamic path selection, and application-aware routing inherent to SD WAN. In addition, each vendor integrates their cloud-native architecture, Zero Trust Network Access, Secure Web Gateway, and real-time threat intelligence of SASE. BT's collaboration with these vendors ensures that businesses benefit from a seamless, secure, and high-performance network infrastructure, irrespective of their scale or global footprint.

Multi-Platform Availability enables deployment throughout the corporate WAN, while the Self-Healing properties of BT underlay offers dynamic path selection with sub-second fail-over. Secure SD-Branch allows for operational consolidation, and Single-vendor SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) provides secure access and high-performance connectivity for users, regardless of location.

BT's SD WAN solutions offer numerous benefits and advanced features for organisations looking to modernise their traditional WAN infrastructure. By understanding the various vendor offerings and key differentiating factors, you can make an informed decision on the SD WAN solution that best meets your organisation's needs.

What is BT SD WAN Versa?

BT SD WAN leverages Versa Network's Secure Cloud IP Architecture which integrates SD WAN, security, routing, and analytics. This solution not only helps you adapt to the growth of applications but also enhances IT and network agility to simplify WAN operations in the process.

The partnership between BT and Versa Networks allows you to take advantage of their advanced connection capabilities to public clouds and comprehensive features of their cloud-native secure access service edge (SASE) platform.

Multi-tenancy is a key element in BT SD WAN Versa - the feature offers up a single platform supporting multiple tenants that helps in reducing complexity and cost.

An essential aspect of BT SD WAN Versa is its Advanced Threat Protection which protects your network against known and unknown threats to ensure your organisation's critical applications perform consistently and reliably. Versa threat protection is combined with intelligent routing capabilities to prioritise critical applications.

BT SD WAN Versa provides a highly Secure Cloud IP architecture with multi-tenancy, advanced threat protection, and seamless integration with access to cloud platforms. Versa is also one of the more cost effective BT SD WAN options due to the low cost of their WAN edge devices.

BT SD WAN Solutions Description
BT SD WAN Versa A solution leveraging Versa Network's Secure Cloud IP Architecture. Versa provides security, routing, analytics, multi-tenancy, and Advanced Threat Protection.
BT SD WAN Meraki A cloud-managed solution integrating LAN, wireless LAN, SD WAN, and security. Features include Auto VPN, direct Internet access, and a collaboration between Cisco and BT.
BT SD WAN Nuage Developed with Nokia's Nuage Networks, this solution offers Virtualised Network Services, policy-driven automation and integrated security.
BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela A solution designed for global networks, providing segmentation, Cloud OnRamp, Zero Trust Security, and the integration of Cisco vEdge hardware and licenses.
BT SD WAN Prisma (Palo Alto) Designed for cloud-delivered branch connectivity, it offers a cloud-native platform with encryption, security solutions, and a comprehensive SD WAN – Secure Access Service Edge solution.
BT SD WAN Fortinet Integrates SD WAN functionalities with advanced security. Features include a self-healing network, Cloud on-ramp, application detection, and a combination of Fortinet FortiGate Firewall and SD WAN devices.

What is BT SD WAN Meraki?

The SD WAN Meraki solution offers a seamless cloud managed solution which includes LAN, wireless LAN, SD WAN, and security into one platform. This single platform enables you to manage your entire network across all areas of your IT infrastructure.

With BT's Meraki solution, businesses benefit from Auto VPN to securely interconnect branch locations using automatic IPsec VPN setup. This feature eases the process of establishing secure connections between multiple sites which provides your business with a safer interconnected network across BT's network services.

Another essential aspect of the BT SD WAN Meraki solution is direct Internet access. This feature safely connects you to the internet directly from any network which ensures your connection remains protected.

Cisco and BT have collaborated to bring you the best of both worlds. The solution combines Cisco's expertise in networking technology with BT's extensive experience in telecommunications. The partnership has resulted in a feature-rich Meraki SD WAN solution that offers dual access and intelligent routing for critical applications. By prioritising essential traffic, your business can optimise bandwidth usage and ensure optimal performance.

The BT SD WAN Meraki solution is a fully-managed service, allowing you to focus on your core business objectives rather than dedicating valuable time and resources to manage complex network infrastructure. With BT's expertise at your disposal, you can establish new sites swiftly and deliver intricate services with confidence.

Overview of SD WAN Meraki Solution@2x-2

What is BT SD WAN Nuage?

The BT Agile Connect SD WAN solution is a collaboration between BT and Nokia's Nuage Networks technology. The partnership integrates into BT's global network and provides centralised management through their SD WAN portal. Nokia's BT capability provides pre-built regional gateways, hub connectivity, and enhanced security measures.

One of the standout aspects of the Agile Connect SD WAN solution is its use of the Virtualised Network Services (VNS), which provide the SD WAN 2.0 functionality. This feature enhances the flexibility and agility of the network thanks to the intelligent end-to-end network fabric. Integrating this technology into BT's network service gateways simplifies network governance which ensures a seamless connection experience.

Policy-driven automation plays a significant role in the workings of the Agile Connect SD WAN solution. By automating network responses based on set policies, your network's management becomes more efficient while maintaining optimal performance. The importance of micro segmentation across devices and applications is also addressed to enable customised security policies tailored to your specific needs.

Another element of BT SD WAN Nuage solution is the integrated security - the Agile Connect SD WAN solution offers robust built-in security features, which includes threat prevention. Nuage and BT offer Virtualised Network Services, policy-driven automation, and integrated security to simplify network management while maintaining security and efficiency.

The BT SD WAN Nuage solution brings together the best of both BT's global network and Nuage Network's advanced technology to provide you with a sophisticated and highly resilient communication platform.

Overview of BT Agile Connect SD WAN Solution@2x

What is BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela?

BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela is a highly capable solution which is designed to simplify the management and monitoring of complex global networks. Viptela addresses the challenges posed by increasing data traffic, security threats, and the dynamic nature of the global marketplace.

The Connect Cisco SD WAN solution is a managed SD WAN for networks with intricate requirements and plays a significant role in the migration towards a software-enabled service. This is achieved through the integration of Cisco vEdge hardware and licenses with built-in reporting capabilities that make managing your network seamless.

Segmentation is one essential aspect of the BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela solution. The segmentation feature provides end-to-end segmentation to isolate and protect critical applications. By doing so, your Enterprise can safeguard your sensitive data from potential threats and minimise the risks associated with a security breach.

BT supports the Viptela Cloud OnRamp feature to facilitate cloud-optimised network connections which enables you to achieve a more efficient and flexible connection to your cloud applications.

One of the core components of BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela is its Zero Trust Security approach. Viptela's ZTNA offers secure connectivity by always verifying before trusting, which reduces instances of unauthorised access and protects your critical business assets.

Operationally, the solution is designed to work seamlessly across diverse internet and network services which is a major benefit of the alliance with BT underlay services. Viptela's vManage reporting system offers real-time monitoring and troubleshooting, while advanced analytics are provided by the LiveAction service. These tools give you insight into your network's performance and help you identify areas to improve.

BT leverage Viptela's built-in security features which is aligned with support from BT security experts and operation centres to ensure that your network remains safe from potential threats. Some examples of these features include the online vManage reporting system, LiveAction analytics for network performance insights, and BT's SD WAN Centre of Excellence.

BT's SD WAN Cisco Viptela solution offers a fully managed service that allows you to keep up with the increasingly complex demands of global networks. By providing end-to-end segmentation, Cloud OnRamp, and Zero Trust Security, BT with Viptela ensures efficient and secure network management which is a good fit for large Complex Global requirements.

Overview of BT SD WAN Cisco Viptela Solution@2x

What is BT SD WAN Prisma (Palo Alto)?

BT Prisma SD WAN is a next-generation solution specifically designed for cloud-delivered branch connectivity. With the rise of cloud adoption, enterprises have faced significant shifts in network and application design which impacts operational costs.

The Prisma SD WAN solution provides a secure, flexible, agile, and reliable network that ensures differentiated link performance, seamless cloud application connectivity, and near real-time network and application performance visibility. BT Prisma SD WAN integrates seamlessly with security solutions to offer a comprehensive SD WAN – Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution.

At the heart of Prisma SD WAN is a cloud-native, secure, and resilient platform. Edge devices deployed at branch-office sites create an intelligent end-to-end secure network fabric with encryption to ensure data safety across the network. Prisma and BT provide connectivity to major cloud providers with dynamic routing capabilities with Quality of Service features. Real-time reporting capabilities provide valuable insights for decision-making, empowering you to keep an eye on network performance and take swift action when needed.

A key component of BT's offering is the integration of Prisma SD WAN with BT Managed Cloud Security. The Prisma SASE platform protects end users, networks, and sites from emerging security threats by delivering a secure access service edge.

Key features of the Prisma SD-WAN solution include:

BT Prisma SD WAN serves as a comprehensive solution for your enterprise by addressing network and application performance while enhancing security measures.

Overview of BT Prisma SD WAN Solution@2x

What is BT SD WAN Fortinet?

BT SD WAN Fortinet offers a seamless integration of SD WAN functionalities and advanced security features in a single device. With the FortiGate SD WAN solution, BT delivers a combination of software-defined networking and one of the most secure WAN edge devices across the software WAN market.

In combination with BT underlay, one of the key aspects of the BT SD WAN Fortinet solution is their self-healing network feature, which offers automated WAN path control and failover. This ensures that your network remains resilient and can recover quickly from any issues. By implementing a self-healing network, you can be confident that your business operations will continue running smoothly.

Cloud on-ramp is another important component of BT SD WAN Fortinet. This feature accelerates cloud connectivity with SaaS applications to ensure your business can efficiently access their critical applications and data.

BT SD WAN Fortinet is designed to detect and classify more than 5,000 applications with SSL inspection - you can prioritise your business-critical applications for optimal performance. With dynamic application database updates, new applications are automatically detected and categorised.

The combination of the Fortinet FortiGate Firewall and integrated SD WAN devices offers a 'protect and connect' approach, ensuring enhanced security for your network. With features such as an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS), Secure Socket Layer (SSL) decryption, Virtual Private Network (VPN), web content filtering and anti-malware, Fortinet with BT networks are fully protected against potential threats.

The solution provides a comprehensive capability with advanced SD WAN capabilities and strong security features and excellent performance.

Overview of BT SD WAN Fortinet Solution@2x

What Hybrid WAN options are offered with BT SD WAN?

BT SD WAN offers several Hybrid WAN options to which is a marked difference vs using a vendor directly without service provider involvement. We've listed BT's Hybrid WAN options below:

  • SD WAN supports secure Internet Breakout which enables direct internet access from branch offices, eliminating the need to route traffic through a central hub. This not only optimises cloud application performance but also minimises latency.
  • BT SD WAN offers integration with MPLS and VPLS networks to maintain critical applications using the reliability of MPLS network while diverting other traffic to the Internet. 
  • With the ever-growing importance of wireless connectivity, BT SD WAN also supports 4G and 5G connectivity options with EE SIM's in the UK. This feature is especially useful in areas where traditional fixed-line connectivity is impractical or to support failover and remote users working at home.
  • BT SD WAN also supports private circuits for short haul data requirements which can be integrated into any of the SD WAN solutions.
  • Finally, BT SD WAN offers Cloud Connectivity which provides direct, secure, and optimised connections to various cloud service providers. By eliminating the need to reroute traffic through a central point, BT enhances the efficiency of cloud applications.

Centralised management and visibility through the BT SD WAN portal

The BT SD WAN management portal offers your business a centralised and streamlined way to control your entire WAN to improve visibility and management.

The user interface of the portal enables you to prioritise applications, giving you real-time visibility of all applications, users, and devices across your network. BT reporting insights help you make informed decisions across application performance. The portal also provides access to all elements of the co-managed or fully managed WAN in respect of security, deployment and adds, moves & changes.

The BT SD WAN portal integrates seamlessly with cloud environments to support rapid provisioning of cloud services. Thanks to BT's strong partnerships, you can quickly setup access to public clouds which include AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

With built-in analytics capabilities, you can analyse traffic to identify network bottlenecks, and make informed network decisions. This traffic reporting helps to optimise your network's performance to deliver business efficiencies.

Security is another major feature of the BT SD WAN portal - you can work quickly to identify potential risks and BT support automated updates across all sites. This is an essential workflow to ensure that your business is protected without compromising on network performance.

The SD WAN portal is tailored to meet specific business needs by offering the core features of the 6 SD WAN vendor partnerships mentioned in this article. By working collaboratively with BT, you can design a solution that ensures your business remains secure and connected. It is also important to note that the BT fully managed SD WAN service is maintained by their 24/7 support team from UK-based operation centres.

What are BT's SD WAN SASE Cybersecurity features?

BT offers various features to ensure  comprehensive SASE security for your business. Some of these features include:

  • Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA): Zero Trust revolves around authenticating and verifying users and devices before granting access, regardless of their location. BT SD WAN implements ZTNA to ensure that only authorised users and devices can access your network.

  • Secure Web Gateway (SWG): SWG provides real-time traffic inspection to out malicious content and enforcing corporate web policies to protect your network from potential threats.

  • Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB): CASB offers visibility and control over cloud applications to ensure secure data transfer between on-premises devices and cloud applications.

  • Firewall as a Service (FWaaS): By delivering firewall capabilities directly from the cloud, FWaaS eliminates the need for traditional on-premises firewalls and streamlines your security measures.

  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): DLP monitors and controls data transfers across your network to prevent any unauthorised data transfers. 

  • Edge Computing: Processing data closer to its source not only reduces latency but enhances speed as well. BT SD WAN incorporates edge computing to improve your network's overall performance.

  • Real-time Analytics and Reporting: Insights into network traffic, user behaviour, and potential security threats are crucial for proactively addressing emerging problems. Real-time analytics and reporting capabilities provide you with the necessary information to make informed decisions.

  • Global Network: BT SD WAN utilises their global IP network and global data centres to ensure consistent policy enforcement and security measures no matter where your users are located.

  • Scalability: BT SD WAN adapts easily to growing network demands without compromising performance or security.

BT SD WAN Professional services for design, implementation, and optimisation

BT offers a unique approach to SD WAN design by leveraging their highly experienced consultants across SD WAN and SASE security. Through BT's bespoke SD WAN design services, your business can ensure the network architecture captures all requirements from network segmentation to Firewall policies and Quality of Service.

During the implementation phase, businesses often face several challenges and hurdles. To navigate these difficulties, BT provides a dedicated management team, which includes project managers that work closely with you to ensure an efficient rollout of the SD WAN solution. By following a strict implementation process, the goal is to minimise disruption and delays.

Ongoing SD WAN optimisation is essential in adapting to changing business needs and changing network conditions. BT offers continuous support and optimisation services, focused on maintaining application performance and adjusting the SD WAN infrastructure. BT achieves optimisation through regular monitoring, analysis, and proactive adjustments to your SD WAN configuration.

What are the top use-cases for BT SD WAN?

Use Case 1: Hybrid Network Integration

One of the top use-cases for BT SD WAN is the integration of hybrid networks. By combining MPLS, VPLS, or private circuits, businesses can architect the right design based on business needs. Utilising a hybrid networking approach also ensures efficient traffic steering based on application requirements.

Use Case 2: Flexible Branch Deployment

BT SD WAN offers flexibility and agility in deploying branch offices by utilising connection types across different providers. BT also connects their SD WAN customers and users

to major cloud service providers.

Use Case 3: Rapid Branch Setup

The virtual network overlay in BT's SD WAN solution ensures rapid deployment and scalability to accommodating growing network demands. Branch-offices can securely connect to the internet and other branches to secure data transfers while meeting the needs of expanding businesses.

Use Case 4: Equipment Lifecycle Management

Adopting BT SD WAN solutions allows enterprises to save on branch office CPE costs by leveraging standardised devices. As an example, BT procures more Cisco CPE vs. any other Service Provider which enables cost efficiencies to be made.

Use Case 5: Cloud and SaaS Integration

BT SD WAN offers direct, secure, and optimised connectivity to cloud service providers. The BT global network with consistent policy enforcement and security measures across a worldwide network of data centres makes BT ideal for organisations that rely on cloud and SaaS applications.

Use Case 6: Remote Work and Mobile Connectivity

Remote work and mobile connectivity are essential in today's business landscape. BT SD WAN incorporates Zero Trust security principles to ensure that users and devices are authenticated and verified before granting access. The availability of 4G and 5G connectivity options in locations where fixed-line connectivity is not feasible represents an ideal failover option or facilitates connectivity for remote users.

Use case 7: Co-Manaaged and Fully-Managed SD WAN with BT UK & Global Services Internet

One of the most common reason for selecting a service provider is to combine SD WAN overlay and underlay under a single billing and support structure.

Top Use-Cases for BT SD WAN (Extended)@2x

What are some case studies for BT SD WAN?

In the manufacturing industry, Jaguar Land Rover deployed BT SD WAN across 600 sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, resulting in a 50% reduction in WAN costs and improved performance for cloud applications.

Rockwell Automation utilised BT SD WAN to support the IoT roll-out to 130 factories, achieving seamless connectivity, security, and visibility across all locations.

In the retail sector, H&M migrated 2,000 stores in 32 countries to BT SD WAN, which allowed them to prioritise traffic for POS and CCTV systems resulting in a 30% improvement in network performance. Tesco also adopted BT SD WAN for 800 of their stores, which led to better cloud application performance and a 40% cost reduction compared to MPLS.

In the finance industry, DBS Bank in Asia rolled out BT SD WAN to 300 branches, accelerating the deployment of new services and reducing network issues by 60% according to a Forrester Research article. American Express enhanced their performance for SaaS applications using BT SD WAN, which improved both productivity and customer experience.

Finally, Barts Health NHS Trust in the UK leveraged BT SD WAN to achieve high availability across their sites, which in turn enhanced patient care. Boots deployed BT SD WAN to over 800 pharmacies that included embedded security features paving the way for a fast roll-out of new digital services.

How does BT SD WAN support 4G & 5G cellular connectivity?

Versa has integrated native 5G into its SD-WAN-based SASE appliances, CSG700 and CSG1000. This solution also supports 4G LTE networks as a fallback option. Alongside native support of cellular, Versa also adds policy-based traffic management, bandwidth augmentation, and traffic throttling to optimise your 4G and 5G connectivity.

In the case of Meraki by Cisco, BT offer a cloud-managed 5G cellular gateway MG51 with up to 2 Gbps of throughput. The Meraki gateway supports worldwide 5G bands which is idea for global network requirements. Meraki also provides 4G (and 5G) backup support to safeguard your network against potential outages.

Nuage by Nokia offers SD WAN 2.0 solutions that can support 4G LTE and 5G networks for Industry 4.0 applications. The Nokia solution provides policy-based controls for internet breakouts and extending network slices to ensure better connectivity management for your business requirements.

Viptela by Cisco supports 4G and 5G cellular networks as part of their SD WAN solution. Viptela offers two types of hardware: Viptela vEdge devices and Cisco cEdge devices.

Palo Alto Networks offers 5G security solutions for service providers and enterprises. Palo's solutions include mobile identifier-based security policies, robust threat detection, real-time identification of infected devices using AI/ML-powered automation, advanced cloud-native network security, and a comprehensive cloud-native security platform for protecting 5G cloud-native workloads from telco to edge.

Fortinet provides the FortiExtender, which offers highly-available wireless WAN solutions with 3G/4G LTE and 5G support. It works in conjunction with a firewall (i.e. Fortigate) using cellular LTE infrastructure and 5G for a reliable WAN connection. Fortinet's solution also enables the creation of 5G and LTE wireless interfaces for SD WAN rules and policies.

What is BT's SD WAN roadmap for new features and integrations?

BT is continuously working to innovate and improve their SD WAN solutions for customers. One major step they've taken is the establishment of a Centre of Excellence (CoE). The CoE is a central hub where BT has pooled its SD WAN and NFV expertise and key skills to support the full life cycle of customers' SD WAN or NFV services. The team collaborate across design, deployment, and operations, and the CoE is located across BT's key development and customer support centres.

In order to stay at the forefront of technology, BT has invested in training and tools in areas such as YANG, Netconf, and TOSCA. Their commitment to this field shows their dedication to providing the best possible services to their customers.

Another significant development is BT's launch of a new Service and Network Automation Platform (SNAP). This platform is designed to help customers innovate using SD WAN and NFV technologies. Sitting at the heart of BT's global network, SNAP is built with best-in-breed technologies allowing BT to fully integrate solutions from its partners such as Cisco's SD WAN controllers and Nuage Networks from Nokia.

BT's plans for the future include extending orchestration from its core network to major third-party cloud data centres and all the way into customers' local area networks (LAN) and data centre LANs (DC-LANs). This will provide end-to-end applications visibility, control, and configuration.

By constantly updating their features and integrations, BT demonstrates a commitment to providing  cutting-edge solutions for their customers. Their focus on training, tools, and automation platforms like SNAP ensures that they remain confident, knowledgeable, and ahead of the curve in the ever-evolving landscape of SD WAN technologies.

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