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Netify 2021 guide to the top/best SD WAN solutions

Written by Robert Sturt

Robert Sturt is Managing Director of Netify, an SD-WAN, SASE security & connectivity market network where you can login free to compare and shortlist vendors.

Which vendors offer the top/best SD WAN solutions? The vendors which offer the top/best SD WAN solutions in 2021 are Versa, Aryaka, Cato, Palo Alto, Oracle, Meraki, Citrix, Masergy, Silver Peak and VeloCloud.

Comparing your specific requirements to the top/best UK, US & Global SD WAN solutions requires analysis across multiple data points from cloud services to security and the ISP underlay connectivity. Will your business select a pure WAN edge customer premises solution or perhaps opt for NFV (Network Function Virtualisation) virtual appliance technology?

Are you considering DIY or fully managed services (MSP)?

As ever, the end decision requires aligning business requirements with the right capability encompassing budget and long term strategy. With the above introduction in mind, the Netify team have designed an online SD WAN vendor quick comparison to help your business understand which vendor solution is a fit based on your initial high level requirements. Simply answer the questions to receive instant comparison results. In this article we review the top 10 SD WAN solutions for UK, US and Global business.

Netify have curated the following top/best SD WAN solution list for UK and North American businesses.

  • Versa Open Systems Logo Netify
    Versa.
  • Aryakaaryaka-social-logo
    Aryaka offers private backbone access with fully managed SD WAN services.
  • Cato Networkscato
    Cato Networks offers private global backbone access with SASE security.
  • Palo Alto (CloudGenix) cloudgenix
    Palo Alto and CloudGenix combine significant SASE and SD WAN feature experience.
  • Oracle oracle
    Oracle.
  • Meraki meraki
    Low cost SD WAN, ideal for high quantity branch office site needs with CCTV.
  • Citrix citrix
    Citrix.
  • Masergy masergy
    Masergy.
  • Silver PeakSilver Peak Logo Netify
    Silver Peak is a Gartner leader with WAN optimisation and SASE via Zscaler partnership.
  • VeloCloud velocloud
    VeloCloud is a Gartner leader with significant experience from VMware.
Which SD WAN features should your IT team understand before comparing vendors?
  • Year launched - the year of SD WAN product launch.
  • Network backbone - the ability to offer middle-mile long haul inter-country global traffic.
  • SD WAN architecture - is the solution WAN edge-based, gateways for hosted access or based on their own PoPs.
  • Gartner status - the vendor or providers placement in the Gartner's Magic quadrant for the industry.
  • Form factor - appliance is delivered on physical, virtual or white boxes (uCPE).
  • Firewall - basic, stateful at layer 7 or advanced next generation with anti-malware, IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems), IPS (Intrusion Protection System), content filtering, sandbox.
  • WAN optimisation - features to accelerate app performance such as TCP optimisation, caching, deduplication and compression.
  • Traffic handling - may be based on sessions or per-packet.
  • Cloud app path selection - how the solution measures application performance for making decisions for apps such as SaaS. 4G/5G - support for LTE, 4G and 5G.

Vendor solution comparison 1 to 5.

Vendor Versa Aryaka CATO CloudGenix Oracle
Year launched 2019 2009 2016 2013 2007
Network backbone No Yes Yes No No
SD WAN architecture WAN edge based 25+ global PoPs for site to site and cloud traffic 40+ global PoPs for site to site and cloud traffic Edge based Edge based
Gartner status Visionaries Visionaries Not ranked Visionaries  Niche players
Form factor Physical Physical Physical, Virtual (VMware), Cloud (AWS, Azure) Physical, Virtual (VMware), Cloud (AWS) Physical, Virtual (VMware, Hyper-V), Cloud (AWS, Azure, KVM, Oracle)
Firewall Advanced Basic, advanced via partners Advanced Basic, advanced via partners Basic, advanced via partners
WAN optimisation No Yes Limited (TCP optimisation) No Yes via add on
Traffic handling Session based, per packet possible Packet based Packet based Session based Packet based
Cloud app path selection Limited, monitors loss, delay and jitter to consider the best path Partnered with AWS & Microsoft Azure, manual routes for other cloud/SaaS apps Cloud apps can leverage the CATO backbone Measures app performance to select best path None
4G/5G Yes, SIM card on all devices No No No  No

Vendor solution comparison 6 to 10.

Vendor Cisco Meraki Citrix Masergy Silver Peak VeloCloud
Year launched 2015 2013 2000 2014 2012
Network backbone No No Yes No No
SD WAN architecture Edge based Edge based 102+ Global PoP infrastructure located in metro areas Edge based 100+ global, public gateways for Internet and cloud traffic
Gartner status Challengers Challengers Visionaries Leaders Leaders
Form factor Physical, Cloud (AWS, Azure) Physical, Virtual (VMware, XS, Hyper-V and KVM), Cloud (AWS, Azure)   Physical, Virtual (VMware, Hyper V, Xen, KVM), Cloud (AWS, Azure, GCP, Oracle Cloud) Physical, Virtual (VMware, Xen, KVM), Cloud (AWS, Azure)
Firewall Advanced Basic, advanced via partners Advanced Basic, Advanced via partners Basic, Advanced via partners
WAN optimisation Limited Yes, 5100, 2100 and 1100 devices. Requires premium edition device Limited Yes via add on No
Traffic handling Session based Packet based Packet based Packet based  Packet based
Cloud app path selection None Yes, via 14 global gateways Yes, via global PoP infrastructure SaaS optimisation WAN egress point (via data centre or hub site) Yes, 100+ shared gateways for path optimisation
4G/5G Via SIM on MX67C, Via USB air card on other devices Yes, 210SE device has integrated 4G/5G Limited No Limited via USB
 
What is Versa's SD WAN solution?

Versa SD WAN Logo

Versa solution is a relative newcomer to the Software defined space, their solution is already listed as a Visionary within the Gartner magic quadrant. The Versa SD WAN architecture is edge-based physical hardware with Cloud based network management.

Versa is perceived to be a simple solution to activate branch locations and other sites with mobile application support, next-generation Firewall security and WiFI access (WAP).

Versa employs approximately 300 employees with the majority of support provided out of the US. The market perception of Versa surrounds ease of deployment via their Titan product combined with a cost-effective price point. As you would expect, the solution is cloud managed from desktop or mobile including access to back end support. Versa suggests their typical customer profile is: SME (Small to Medium Enterprise business), Up to 2Gbps connectivity, 1-500 site scaling and Carrier agnostic.

What is Aryaka's SD WAN solution?

Aryaka Logo-1

Aryaka is an interesting proposition as their WAN infrastructure is based on an MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) PoP deployment. In a sense, the solution is a software WAN evolution of the MPLS VPN. As a Challenger on the Gartner magic quadrant, they offer 25+ Global POPs, physical hardware and Cloud-based SD WAN controller support.

WAN optimisation is built in to the Aryaka solution.   Leading brands are using Aryaka such as Skullcandy, Air China and other notable partners including Microsoft Azure and AWS Cloud. The Aryaka capability is made up of Smart Connect (WAN optimisation), SmartCDN (IP and Web app acceleration) and Cloud VPN. If your business is reluctant to move away from private based, QoS (Quality of Service) enabled MPLS circuits, Aryaka is worth considering as a good half way networking and security capability.

What is Cato's SD WAN solution?

CATO Networks

CATO is listed as a Gartner Visionary, formed in 2019. In a similar fashion to Aryaka, CATO offers 40+ Global PoP locations. Physical, virtualised and Cloud via AWS. CATO is viewed as a great solution for the SME or large Enterprise with a large number of remote users. With next-generation Firewall security included within the solution capability.   Interesting fact, CATO is led by Shlomo Kramer, co-founder of the security giant Check Point Software.

Another SD WAN offering with 40 Worldwide PoP locations connected via multipe tier 1 providers. The CATO service offering spans One Network, a Global SLA-backed backbone which can carry Internet and WAN traffic. One security and policy provide a unified cloud-based solutions to protect traffic across users, HQ & branch office locations and apps.

What is Palo Alto's SD WAN solution? (CloudGenix)

Paloalto logo

CloudGenix was formed in 2013 and are yet another provider listed as a Visionary by Gartner. An edge-based solution with physical, virtual and Cloud based solutions via AWS. An interesting feature of CloudGenix is their layer 7 application performance management regardless of where the app is hosted.

Advanced Security is available from partners as the default hardware only proposition offers a basic capability.   Another San Jose based business, their service offerings consist of ION (Instant-On Network) which offers the capability to meet data centre and edge appliance/software demands. CloudGenix is a good option for hybrid Internet VPN, MPLS and Wireless connectivity aggregation. We note that CloudGenix approaches SD WAN via layer 7 application sessions through app-based SLA policies.

What is Oracle's SD WAN solution?

Oracle logo

As a well-known brand, Oracle (Talari) has been around for some time now. Viewed as a niche provider by Gartner, their solution is edge-based with physical, virtual (VMWare, Hyper-V, KVM), Cloud via AWS and Azure) with either on premises or controller technology.

Oracle is offering WAN optimisation at no additional cost and granular network performance measurements taken with every single packet. The security offered is basic with advanced delivered by partners.   As of writing this article, Talari is on their 7th generation SD WAN platform with 500+ customers and 9000 site deployments worldwide.

The pitch suggests their capability meets the demands for physical, virtual or cloud nodes. Alongside Talari Sofware-Defined WAN, their bandwidth liquidity capability offers an orchestrated solution that consolidates legacy equipment. A key takeaway is their ability to enable sub-second response when detecting network issues and intelligent link aggregation which will use all bandwidth across disparate links even for a single TCP application flow.

What is Meraki's SD WAN solution?

Cisco Meraki-1

The Cisco Meraki platform offers significant benefits including CCTV, an edge-based Gartner leader with physical and Cloud via AWS or Azure. The inbuilt next-generation Firewall licence, single pane of glass management and WiFI switching mean Meraki is a great solution for a business requiring monitoring.

Meraki is best suited to Internet-only rather than supporting private technologies such as MPLS. While MPLS lines can be supported, deployment does require expertise.  Meraki is also known as a DIY technology vs some solutions which are part or fully managed.

We've recently worked on a large 300 site deployment using Cisco Meraki into MPLS primary with failover to Broadband/4G. The complexity of delivering the solution surrounds working with MPLS routing rather than using the public Internet. With this said, the capability works well and is fit for purpose.

What is the Citrix SD WAN solution?

Citrix Logo-1

A 2013 SD WAN offering, Citrix are a challenger within the Gartner magic quadrant and no stranger to cloud-based apps. As with most provider and vendors, Cirtix are offering edge-based connectivity with physical, Citrix HyperV, KVM, VMWare and Zen with Cloud-based options supported by Alibaba, AWS, Azure, Google and Oracle. Citrix SD WAN is viewed by the market as a single WAN optimisation device with good network visibility.

Citrix produce an SD WAN buyers checklist but this really revolves around their strengths which typically drives you down a path of selecting their services. With this said, the Citrix capability does compare well overall with every provider & vendor.

What is the Masergy SD WAN solution?

Masergy Logo

Cisco Meraki platform offers significant benefits including CCTV, an edge-based Gartner leader with physical and Cloud via AWS or Azure. The inbuilt next-generation Firewall licence, single pane of glass management and WiFI switching mean Meraki is a great solution for a business requiring monitoring.

Meraki is best suited to Internet-only rather than supporting private technologies such as MPLS. While MPLS lines can be supported, deployment does require expertise.  Meraki is also known as a DIY technology vs some solutions which are part or fully managed. We've recently worked on a large 300 site deployment using Cisco Meraki into MPLS primary with failover to Broadband/4G. The complexity of delivering the solution surrounds working with MPLS routing rather than using the public Internet. With this said, the capability works well and is fit for purpose.

What is Silver Peak's SD WAN solution?

Silver Peak Logo Netify

Silver Peak only sell via Authorised Partners, please visit the Netify page for more information. The value in Silver Peak is their WAN optimisation based on applications with the pitch that their technology improves the performance of low-cost Internet connectivity to the level of private line services.

Unity Boost enables their customers to reduce network bandwidth requirements which in turn increases application performance. EdgeConnect positions their customers to leverage multiple paths across the Internet with dynamic load balancing. Silver Peak are a leader in the Gartner magic quadrant for WAN optimisation recognising their push across an application first approach including security policies and complete IaaS and SaaS application support.

What is VeloCloud's SD WAN solution?

VeloCloud Logo

A rich history of virtualisation means VeloCloud are ideally placed to lead transformation from traditional WAN edge to an NFV environment. With 100+ Global gateways for Internet and Cloud traffic with physical, virtual (VMware, KVM, Xen) and Cloud service access to AWS and Azure, Velocloud are in a good position to meet most requirements. Security is basic but advanced Next Generation Firewall is available from selected partners.

Traffic handling is packet-based with Software WAN optimisation across Cloud and SaaS applications delivered to the most appropriate local gateway. VeloCloud sell across four pillars of value: Performance and reliability to meet the demands of voice and video, Cloud network ready to integrate with public and private cloud, virtual services with NFV, automation and orchestration for zero-touch deployment and business policy based deployments.

Conclusion

We recognise that one of the major challenges for any IT team considering SD WAN services is to force transparency across the massive amount of hype and marketing currently generated by service providers and vendors.

Compounding the issue is the need to also identify niche and specialised software-defined WAN players you may not have considered at the same time as ensuring security and access is evaluated across your users and their cloud-based applications. If you are conducting research you'll find the 'lesser-known' solutions are essentially hidden behind the content-generating power of larger SD WAN companies.

And even with the base level of data-points, every Enterprise brings their own specific requirements across branch offices & HQ cloud-based, delay sensitive voice/video and mission-critical SaaS applications and their access, security policies, data centre, migration, budget, support, WAN optimisation, uptime and, well, you probably get the idea. It's kind of time-consuming and confusing.

With digital transformation at the top of the IT Manager or CTO's agenda, which SD WAN features should you deploy and which solution should you choose to ensure reliability, support for users and their apps?

Author

Robert Sturt insider@netify.co.uk Last Updated: 12.05.2021

Rated as excellent by Medivet, CDC Global, British Legion, Permira & Tilney.

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