Robert Sturt

By: Robert Sturt on March 25th, 2020

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Which SD WAN connectivity provider fits your business?

SD WAN

Software-WAN is decoupling the traditional telco connectivity from vendor solutions. IT teams are reporting that their primary area of interest surrounds SD WAN vendor features and capability rather than underlying connectivity. In many ways, this shift is not unexpected because SD WAN marketing revolves around the central pillar of making the Internet perform, even when quality is poor.
The fact remains, alongside networking and security, connectivity is an integral component of your SD WAN architecture from the perspective of latency and jitter but also how ISP companies support your business across DIY, Co-managed or fully managed SD WAN in the event an issue occurs.

How to establish which SD WAN connectivity topology is a fit for your business addresses?

There are typically three thought processes IT teams consider when procuring connectivity.

The first is whether or not to approach one single provider for their HQ and branch-office locations. The logic of adopting a single ISP backbone WAN architecture is sound since traffic remains on one network infrastructure, which is good for latency and jitter performance.

Which 30+ SD WAN vendors and 200+ providers are a fit for your business?
Find out with the online SD WAN quick assessment. We'll tell you which providers fit your high level requirements.

The second option is to use the lowest cost ISP vs your specific office locations. When considering cost as a base value, this approach will produce the best results. And while the thought process to reduce costs by leveraging low costs ISPs with SD WAN technology effectively sorting any potential issues is valid, there could be hidden costs to the business in respect of application performance and downtime.

There is often an often overlooked noticeable difference between the traditional MPLS NOC (Network Operation Centre) vs an Internet provider NOC. MPLS NOC support engineers are typically more tuned to the specifics of your network across IP routing and service levels. The average Internet NOC will normally support each client with the same level of awareness and knowledge.

SD WAN Connectivity examples

With the last paragraph in mind, the third option is to purchase SD WAN from a vendor offering their own private backbone access. There remains a requirement to VPN over the Internet from your branch-office site to the nearest private PoP. Again, consideration must be given to the location of where each private PoP is located to determine whether the PoP may increase your application latency.

Regardless of which thought process is followed by your business, there remains a need to understand which ISP PoPs (Point of Presence) are suited to your specific address. And while most ISPs will publish their network reach, getting to the detail across every prospective ISP is not always a simple process.

Related: Netify can check your locations to determine which ISPs are a good fit, click to learn more.

What is the state of SD WAN connectivity?

With the majority of SD WAN vendors predicting the demise of private technologies such as MPLS & VPLS, the state of SD WAN connectivity is one of moving toward Internet adoption as the primary delivery method for HQ and branch sites.

There are several drivers behind the move to Internet connectivity as follows:

  • Lower cost - we’ve discussed the implications of buying connectivity based on cost.
  • Public cloud-based services - access to AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google cloud and other SaaS applications (e.g. CRM) are made much more accessible 
  • Remote access - with the world facing issues such as Covid-19, there has never been more of a need to set up all users with an option to home work when required using ANY available Internet connectivity.

We mentioned MPLS and VPLS; these private WAN technologies are very much a component of good hybrid networking architecture. SD WAN providers that do not support private WAN will, of course, market the demise of MPLS and VPLS. We typically find the average WAN ends up as a hybrid of connectivity which includes MPLS circuits (Multi Protocol Label Switching), VPLS circuits (Virtual Private LAN Service), SHDS (Short Haul Data Services) and Internet (Public IP) connectivity.

Public cloud access is a major driver behind Internet adoption as companies look to push their SaaS applications into the Cloud. With private based WAN services, access to public Cloud services requires some form of back to back connection within the data centre. The alternative architecture for MPLS requires Internet access traffic flows which are routed out of the HQ or cloud based deployments (breakout of MPLS core networks).

How to add diversity to your SD WAN connectivity solutions?

  • Copper Broadband - Copper is the original Broadband technology, available up to 20Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.
  • FTTC Broadband - Fibre to the Cabinet offers significant improvements vs copper technology with downstream speeds up to 80Mbps and 20Mbps upload.
  • FTTP Broadband - Fibre to the Premises is the latest Broadband technology delivered as end to end fibre connectivity. Speeds of up to 1Gbps download are achievable. Note that although download speeds are comparable to Ethernet, FTTP remains a Broadband Internet technology which is delivered with lower service levels vs Ethernet.
  • Ethernet DIA, MPLS & VPLS - Ethernet fixed-line services are available as 100Mbps, 1Gbps and 10Gbps symmetrical connectivity into dedicated network infrastructure with improved SLAs. MPLS and VPLS offer comprehensive Service Level Guarantees encompassing latency, jitter and packet loss for key branch offices.
  • 4G/5G - Wireless cellular technology is perfect for small offices, remote users, temporary requirements and diversity. 4G and 5G require no physical on-site infrastructure to deliver connectivity with 4G speeds performing at 100Mbps with good connectivity and 5G providing up to a theoretical 10Gbps.
  • SHDS (Short Haul Data Services) - Dedicated private circuits using metro fibre within 25km distance.
  • Data Centre - As cloud-based applications form the basis of typical Enterprise SD WAN architecture, the data centre is a key connectivity component. In addition to bandwidth, the data centre offers security, backup services (in respect of both data and physical) with battery power redundancy. Understanding which data centres offer direct access to your businesses most prevalent cloud services helps to define your overall SD WAN architecture.
  • Optical Wavelength - Dedicated optical circuits with 2.5Gbps wavelengths, ideal for connecting data centre locations.

Office meeting SD WAN connectivity

Who are the top SD WAN connectivity providers?

The table below provides a comparison of which SD WAN vendors offer a) Internet connectivity and SD WAN appliance and b) private SD WAN backbone access together with benefits.

Provider

BT Business

Century Link

Masergy

Verizon

Cogent

Expereo

Globalgig

GTT

Type

Tier 1 carrier

Tier 1 carrier

Tier 1 carrier

Tier 1 carrier

Tier 1 carrier

Tier 3 carrier

Aggregator

Tier 1 carrier

Data services

DIA,, Broadband, MPLS, VPLS, SHDS, Optical, 4G, 5G

DIA,, Broadband, MPLS, VPLS, SHDS, Optical,

DIA, MPLS, VPLS

DIA,, Broadband, MPLS, VPLS, SHDS, Optical, 4G, 5G

DIA, VPLS, SHDS

DIA, Fixed wireless, 4G, 5G, Satellite

DIA,, Broadband, MPLS, VPLS, SHDS, Optical, 4G, 5G

DIA,, Broadband, MPLS, VPLS, SHDS, Optical, 4G, 5G

Differentiators

Suitable for all business sizes, all solutions available

End to end solutions from connectivity to security and cloud

Exceptional core network suited to Global financial locations, Managed Security and 70+NPS score

Strong security portfolio and global network

17 business day delivery SLA for their own network services

Able to service 200+ countries across multiple wholesale carriers

Global wireless services

Good global coverage for both DIA, MPLS, VPLS and voice, strong for larger connectivity

Year establish-ed 

Dark ages

1930

2000

1983

1999

2004

2016

1998

Global coverage

Via BT Global Services into 197 countries, thousands of Global employees

40+ NOC sites, multiple billing currencies

30% of Masergy businesses Global, PoPs on 6 continents

9 NOCs around the Globe, 1000+ global PoPs, 150 countries

20% of businesses international, multiple currencies

60% of businesses International, sold into 200+ countries, multiple billing currencies

40% of businesses International, sold into 20+ countries

NOCs on multiple continents, sold into 140+ countries

Strengths

UK focussed, international NOC locations, trusted by Times top 100

Totally global business with leadership in each region

Global with 100+ countries , 300+ last mile providers

Completely global

Europe

Global coverage across 200+ countries

Global coverage across 200+ countries

Global coverage across 200+ countries

Top Connectivity products

MPLS, VPLS, SD WAN, Point to point, Optical, Internet

Internet, SIP, SD WAN

Managed SD WAN, Security

Internet, Private IP MPLS, Ethernet, Optical

Internet, Point to Point, VPLS

Broadband, Internet, SD WAN

Wireless,Internet, Broadband, SD WAN

Optical, Ethernet over Copper (US), DIA

How does Global SD WAN connectivity present a different challenge?

Connectivity services for Global SD WAN is more of a challenge to deliver vs national deployments. At the most basic level, applications travel further to access data (including cloud providers), users connect to apps wherever they are located on a global basis, support may vary between each region and certain locations may singularly push up budget due to high access costs.

Global SD WAN connectivity-1

Application access for Global SD WAN

The laws of physics apply regardless of the marketing delivered from each SD WAN service provider suggesting Software-WAN technology has an answer to network delay. If your business is deploying delay-sensitive applications such as real time voice, there has to be end to end packet delivery within a designated round trip latency figure. Where users are connecting from an unknown location, SD WAN is able to make the best of available connections. But, for HQ to branch-office connectivity, predictable performance is the only acceptable outcome. In many ways, this very issue is why businesses turn to layer 3 MPLS WAN solution capability for end to end guarantees across packet delivery.

1. Creating a hybrid network infrastructure

Depending on your IT decision making process and application architecture, there is mileage in creating a hybrid network with MPLS at core sites and the Internet where there is less of a need for guaranteed delivery. However, if the decision to implement an end to end Internet deployed SD WAN solution is the chosen IT strategy, the average latency between core PoPs will need to be considered.

2. Regional support and NOC presence

Within the WAN marketplace, many vendors offer international coverage, but the reality of support and employee quantity in the given country varies. With some SD WAN connectivity providers, availability is in excess of 200 locations. The evaluation is typically focussed on employees in country, NOC support and in-country billing and languages spoken.

3. Specific high cost regions

The high cost regions of the world are known to IT teams, think UAE as an example where connecting sites is often prohibitive. When considering your connectivity solutions provider for SD WAN services, businesses need to think about expansion either organically or via acquisition. If your IT team are aware there’s an interest to move into a specific Global location, the coverage from your single or multiple service providers must be considered to ensure your business is ready when services are deployed.

This very issue is one of the reasons why SD WAN adoption continues to grow as there is no lock-in from providers in the same way as a fully managed MPLS or VPLS solution. The business and IT team are free to search for the lowest cost connectivity provider within all global regions.

About Robert Sturt

Robert is the Managing Director of Netify, a Network Union brand. With experience working across WAN services since 1998, Robert brings a wealth of experience based on hard won knowledge. A writer for Techtarget.com and an experienced business strategist, Robert can bring a tonne of value to your project.