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What is BT SD WAN?

4 min. read

Last updated: November 12, 2021

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What is BT SD WAN?

icon-cloud@2xWhat is BT SD WAN?

BT SD WAN is available as fully managed Cisco Meraki or Cisco Viptela with UK and Global intelligent connectivity, an ideal solution for mid-market and large Enterprise businesses.

The latest BT SD WAN solution is now firmly based around Cisco Meraki and Viptela managed service options. However, Authorised Partners are able to position leading SD WAN vendors with BT connectivity across network services.

And while outsourcing every element of Meraki and Viptela Cisco technology with BT public IP underlay is a good all round capability - leveraging BT's orchestration capabilities - the core offering does not fit every requirement. Simply put, there is a high percentage of BT clients with a need to retain change control at a certain level.

In this article, we discuss the current BT Software-WAN solution together with the afore mentioned customer options for using the BT network as your connectivity underlay while selecting an alternative vendor solution to support DIY or co-managed requirements. This includes Meraki or Viptela as a DIY or Co-Managed solution (rather than fully managed) via an Authorised Cisco partner with BT representing one of the best high performance global networks.

At a base level, the options are as follows.

Fully managed Meraki or Viptela SD WAN with BT UK or Global connectivity BT SD WAN supports fully managed solutions with total outsourcing
DIY or Co-Managed Cisco Meraki or Viptela from an Authorised Cisco Partner Complete the Netify assessment to locate a recommended Cisco Partner
Search fully managed, co-managed or DIY SD WAN vendors with BT underlay connectivity Complete the Netify assessment to compare SD WAN vendors
Use BT UK and Global connectivity across Internet, MPLS or VPLS with ANY vendor Coming soon, connectivity comparison

What if fully managed Cisco Meraki or Viptela does not fit your requirements?

As of writing this article, BT have opted to offer a complete managed Meraki / Viptela solution which means there is no possibility to make any of your own changes. All change requests must be routed via the BT Belfast managed services team meaning there will be delay to even the most simple requests.

With the above said, there are some businesses where changes are minimal and utilising a managed services team to make alterations (regardless of added time) makes complete sense. If your requirements are based around fully outsourced elements, the current iteration of BT SD WAN will meet your needs.

Alongside the every day operation of your WAN, BT offers significant expertise across project management and delivery of circuits on a Global basis. With reach in excess of 197 countries and one centralised 24*7 NOC, the proposition is compelling for the mid-market to large Enterprise customers with delay sensitive and mission critical application traffic.

UK SME businesses would be advised to use the Netify comparison service to establish which SD WAN vendor is a good fit vs requirements with BT underlay connectivity as the backbone for your network..

What if you require co-managed, DIY or an alternative SD WAN vendor?

BT Partners (Netify is a Premier Partner) are independent sales agencies authorised to sell BT Business products with 3rd party solutions to build out single point of contact solutions. Netify are partnered with the majority of Gartner rated WAN edge and NFV (Network Function Virtualisation) vendors to offer UK and Global Software WAN for DIY, co-managed and fully managed solutions with BT underlay connectivity. IT teams are able to select from Internet and private based Ethernet leased lines, Broadband, 4G/5G across Internet, MPLS, VPLS, private line with the vendor offering wide area network software agility.

Which BT SD WAN connectivity access methods are supported?

While the BT offering of fully managed services is too restricting for businesses looking to maintain an element of control, their Global network offers good performance. With applications including voice, video and mission critical cloud-based access, sending traffic across a single IP backbone provides the best possible latency and jitter while minimising potential packet loss. The following are supported connectivity types to deliver hybrid network options across BT's portfolio:

  • Ethernet leased lines with 100Mbps, 1Gbps and 10Gbps bandwidth
  • Broadband (FTTC, FTTP)
  • 4G/5G (Based on EE offering great network performance)

The above connectivity represents the main BT SD WAN underlay.

BT 4G for SD WAN

How does BT SD WAN access Cloud providers?

BT data centre availability bespoke access (where BT have on-net access) spans in excess of 30 UK locations with selected access globally. Depending on the cloud provider, direct access is available via SD WAN Internet based VPN or private MPLS & VPLS.

BT also have presence within the main Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud data centre locations.

Should you choose Cisco Viptela or Meraki BT Managed WAN?

The decision on which fully managed SD WAN offering to select is depending on a number of factors ranging from your existing estate (Viptela can be deployed on ISR router hardware) to the overall required Software WAN architecture.

Viptela is known for deep packet inspection allowing businesses to build and create security policies and prioritise traffic based on granular parameters. 

  • Layer 7 Firewall
  • Support for multiple WAN circuits to support hybrid networking
  • Support 4G (or LTE) as primary WAN connectivity
  • Where support for 2 or more WAN connections is required, Viptela offers a better fit vs Meraki. This is especially true where multiple VPN connections are required from the LAN with traffic separation in a VLAN like capability.

Which security elements are offered within the BT SD WAN solution?

Whether your business considers Meraki or Viptela, security elements are available covering the following aspects:

  • Firewall with identity based classification
  • Content Filtering
  • Updated automatically
  • IPS to deal with cyber threats
  • IPSec Encryption
  • Auto VPN
  • High Availability with diversity and failover
  • Application performance QoS with full visibility and control
  • Central management dashboard with full visibility and dedicated security expertise (via fully managed)


The service provider market offers single point of contact benefits when medium to large Enterprise businesses procure Software-WAN services. There’s the ability to deploy procure both the connectivity underlay together with WAN edge or NFV from vendor capability via one single provider

In many ways, the single point of contact is a double edged sword since businesses become locked to the technologyand connectivity. Whereas buying SD WAN vendor technology separate from connectivity offers more of a dynamic network service and avoids the service provider lock-in IT teams are used to across deployment of MPLS VPN .

Whether you choose to progress the BT fully managed Cisco Meraki / Viptela service option or search for a vendor separate to BT connectivity with Netify, there is no doubting the power and scalability  of BT network infrastructure for your organisation.


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. Last Updated: 12.11.2021
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