In this article, I'll be discussing 10 SD WAN vendors and service providers which fit the needs of most mid-market and Enterprise businesses. While SD WAN is known for ease of use, expertise and resource is still required depending on the complexity of your needs. SD WAN typically encompasses:
- Path optimisation
- Support for bonded bandwidth across Ethernet, Broadband and Cellular
- SASE security
- AI and cloud vendor support for AWS, Azure and Google cloud
- Out of the box application recognition for SaaS (Software as-a-service)
- Zero touch provisioning for efficient solution orchestration
- Self-managed (DIY)
- Fully managed
List of the top 10 Managed SD WAN service providers (MSP's):
A benefit of a managed SD WAN is having a central and clear system which unifies communication between your IT team and the provider. This leads to simplified configuration, deployment, change request and maintenance. There are benefits for a DIY system such as reduced time to complete a process change, as you don’t have to go through the provider first. Some vendors offer fully managed services but others require the customer to engage with their partner network.
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Comparison and list of the top 10 Managed SD WAN providers
Founded in 2009 Aryaka’s growth continues to impress. Supporting over 850 enterprise customers in 60+ countries. Their private global network bestows applications with a “fast lane to users” with speeds that beat both MPLS and the internet. Having SASE expansion in mind, back in May they acquired the German company Secucloud GmbH. The acquisition allows Aryaka to offer cloud-based firewall-as-a-service, Secure Web Gateway with advanced threat protection capabilities and more alongside their managed SD WAN subscription. Customers of Aryaka include SAP and NVIDIA.
Aryaka are heavily a-a-S (SD WAN as-a-service) focused with their SmartServices platform which offers; SmartInsights (insightful analytics), SmartSecure (security), SmartCloud (multi-cloud networking), SmartOptimize (app performance accelerator) and SmartConnect (worldwide connectivity). These are all in an as-a-Service format. SmartConnect provides integrated cloud connectivity allowing new sites to be deployed within a 48 hour time frame.
What are the PROS of Aryaka Managed SD WAN?
- Above and beyond customer service with the highest Net Promoter Scores (NPS) score of 65, where the industry average is 12
- Super fast private global network/li>
- Powerful web application (MyAryaka Cloud Portal) for management
What are the CONs of Aryaka Managed SD WAN?
- Not ideal for smaller customers as their aim is providing connectivity for worldwide organisations
- No DIY or Co-managed service
- SASE only recently introduced
Last year BT announced the launch of cloud-based managed network services which provide best of breed software defined connectivity options. Offering access to 198 countries and territories worldwide via their IP Connect Global backbone, customers can take advantage of excellent partnerships with services from Cisco (Meraki and Viptela), VMware, and Nokia. Choose from fully managed or co-managed services, alternatively you can use a 3rd party provider with BT underlay for a DIY system if needed. As a point of note, all changes go through the dedicated team in Belfast.
BT is one of the largest telecommunications companies, and their extensive portfolio of services and partnerships confirm this. Boasting network speeds of up to 10Gbps and 4G/5G connectivity from the EE mobile network. Although BT do not have dedicated SASE they do provide advanced security offerings such as; Firewall with identity based classification, network encryption and IPS. All manageable through their central management dashboard.
What are the PROS of BT Managed SD WAN?
- Huge global recognition and presence
- High Speed 5G mobile network via EE
- Fully managed, allowing you time to focus on other business development
- Allow 3rd party providers to connect to their backbone network
What are the CONs of BT Managed SD WAN?
- As with other large providers, can be a slow process to raise a change/query
- No mention of SASE
- Recommendation to buy service via the channel vs direct due to service improvements
A relatively new company in comparison to others, Cato Networks’ was founded in 2015 and provides customers with fully featured SD WAN services. Cato are an early adopter of SASE which is offered as standard via their cloud based networking and security offerings. These services allow companies to move from legacy MPLS to a more agile, secure and resilient network. You can ensure network visibility with their management portal which gives an end-to-end view.
Cato SASE Cloud is their global cloud-native service which connects users and sites together with prioritised security and optimisation in mind. Part of the SASE cloud is their NGFW (Next Generation Firewall) which provides a logical firewall with all the features of a hardware device. User's connect via a Cato Socket which routes traffic to the nearest access point onto the Cato backbone network. However, Cato will recognised other paths if metrics are better. In addition, Cato also use IPSec tunnels from third-party firewalls to connect sites.
What are the PROS of Cato Managed SD WAN?
- Good range of SD WAN offerings
- Exclusive hardware (Cato Socket) allowing you to connect into their backbone network from anywhere
- DIY & Co-managed offerings
- Excellent SASE services
What are the CONs of Cato Managed SD WAN?
- Lacks some aspects of fully managed services- i.e. IT teams must be more active in checking logs and acting on outages
- No native support for cloud vendors such as AWS, Azure or Google
Colt’s goal is to increase your WAN bandwidth, whilst adding flexibility and agility - and saving cost. Their SD WAN enables organisations to use the internet as a business network. This is done using their common off the shelf (COTS) servers which they say are as easy to setup as a home wifi connection. Using the web based portal customers are able to provision and orchestrate network services in seconds with advanced analytics covering applications and the core network.
The Colt fibre network map clearly illustrates the available coverage in 212 cities and over 29,000+ buildings. Although, you easily identify areas such as South America and the Middle east aren’t as connected. Colt is also partnered with the recognised SASE leader Versa to provide advanced security services. One feature they now offer is Remote Access which is based on Versa SASE, which allows remote working with excellent security and performance. This has been a well utilised feature for a lot of customers now that hybrid working is becoming mainstream.
What are the PROS of Colt Managed SD WAN?
- Cater to customers of all size
- Good proactive monitoring and support
- Extensive Pan-European service coverage
What are the CONs of Colt Managed SD WAN?
- No support for South America or parts of the Middle East
- Customers state that support sometimes takes time to respond
GTT realised that user requirements change daily, with increased remote workers and new web applications constantly being developed, now more than ever networks need to be agile and adaptable. Their SD WAN offering provides the following benefits; improved visibility, increased control and enhanced overall reliability. They’ve completed the research and claim that user's experience a three-year ROI of 213% with the investment payback period being less than 6 months. They have extensive network reach, plus a helpful map tool on the website showing their coverage, with 600+ PoPs in over 250 cities. The core network runs on Juniper devices with lines up to 100Gbps, which they claim provides significant advantages to enterprise, carrier and government clients.
Offering both fully managed or DIY models, you are responsible for picking the underlying technology. They suggest Silver Peak, VMWare’s Velocloud, and Fortinet as these are the Gartner leaders, all of which they are partners with. Using Fortinet’s Security Fabric, GTT is able to offer advanced security services. They have a clear, structured approach and are uniquely positioned to help wherever needed.
What are the PROS of GTT Managed SD WAN?
- A top-ranked Global Tier 1 IP network
- 100Gbps fibre connections
- Both fully managed and DIY with good transparency
- 24/7 security monitoring and incident response
What are the CONs of GTT Managed SD WAN?
- Not an ideal solution for SME
- Less known than others
- Customer must select underlying technology
Previously known as CenturyLink, Lumen delivers SD-WAN services targeted for large organisations that are wanting global WAN connectivity in an all-in-one platform. They have developed partnerships with Cisco (Meraki and Viptela) and Versa Networks. Through these partners, customers get all the benefits of SD-WAN without the overhead of managing, configuring, and provisioning on a manual basis. Lumen is recognised as a Tier 1 global WAN provider and has fibre routes spanning 450k miles throughout North America, EMEA, Latin America and Asia Pacific. They also have a strong value for security and aim to locate threats before they impact your business.
Using the savings tool on their website you can easily calculate savings without contacting a sales rep. An organisation with 50 remote sites, each using an average of 1Gbps worth of bandwidth, you can expect a 3 year saving of $442,800. They offer fully managed and co-managed solutions and unlike others, allow hybrid connectivity.
What are the PROS of Lumen Managed SD WAN?
- Expansive backbone network ideal for global coverage
- Useful cost saving tool on their website
- Optional (for a fee) on-site installation and maintenance at each SD-WAN site
- Strong security services
What are the CONs of Lumen Managed SD WAN?
- Not ideal for DIY
- Customers claim implementation process can take time
For the past two decades Masergy have been pioneering the software defined network, delivering excellent services throughout. Unlike others, they have their own network backbone which is utilised by leading organisations such as Ingenico, where they were able to reduce operational costs and increase bandwidth by 30%. You can ensure 24/7 uptime with 3 x NOCs and 3 x SOCs in three continents, with coverage in over 100 countries.
Masergy offerings include; SD WAN, SASE security, Microsoft Teams, AI powered management portal and a virtual assistant that can automatically predict outages and help you prevent them. There are three security services which are Managed Security Services, Threat Monitoring and Response or Unified Threat Protection. Noticeably, the fully managed option has many more features than the others, but all include next-generation firewall (NGFW), enhanced anti-malware and IDS/IPS.
What are the PROS of Masergy Managed SD WAN?
- They guarantee 100% availability to the following; SD-WAN sites configured for high availability, direct cloud connections and packet delivery (edge-to-edge)
- Strong AI use including AI-enabled SASE
- AI powered management portal which provides maximum coverage for the network, cloud applications, security, AIOps with clear real-time analytics and controls
What are the CONs of Masergy Managed SD WAN?
- Limited cloud access, but they allow 3rd party cloud connections as a word around
- Fully managed solution only
Founded in 1990, Open Systems is an established and security focused IT solution provider. Looking at the company website, there is no doubt that security is their number one priority. The very first paragraph on their “About Us” page reads; “The escalated threat level, the cyber talent shortage, and the sheer complexity of deploying and managing a multitude of security solutions, are the perfect storm for security and IT teams. We are deeply passionate about protecting organisations from that storm.” They’ve even gone as far as developing their own advanced SASE service, called SASE+ which I’d say speaks for itself. SASE+ is their cloud derived security solution which is powered by a team of security experts around the world. You can rest assured knowing your cloud architecture is being constantly monitored and they’re there to assist whenever needed. Features include; Managed Detection and Response (MDR), IDS/IPS, NGFW and a Cloud Sandbox for development and analysis.
Their SD WAN offering is in a fully managed service, combining both SD WAN and SASE+. Customers can choose from three SASE+ plans which are; Business, Enterprise and Enterprise+. All three of these include network and security analytics, a powerful customer portal and access to their 24x7 level-3 NOCs.
What are the PROS of BT Managed SD WAN?
- Advanced SASE offerings
- Net Promoter Score of 70, customer retention rate is 98% with 97% customer satisfaction rates
- Customer support is operated purely by level 3 engineers, so you will never work with anyone who can’t answer your question or solve an issue
- Useful PDF resources on their website
What are the CONs of BT Managed SD WAN?
- Cost can be high
- Not as well known (brand) compared to other providers
Versa Networks was founded in 2012 and offers SD WAN and SASE solutions and holds over 1000 enterprise customers. They cater to all sizes of organisations, and have a service named “Versa Titan” which is suited for SMEs that are wanting the benefits of SD WAN and SASE but don’t have the global presence that other providers target. Versa Titan comes with the capabilities of their Versa Classic offering but is packaged in a much simpler format, perfect for smaller organisations looking to rapidly branch out into the software defined networking space. This is an ideal choice for customers looking for a DIY system as it gives them more control over the required services and products. Their solutions allow for mass connectivity, whether it be via public cloud such as AWS, Azure or Google, site to site or through VPN. Versa Director is their management portal which allows customers to view network analytics and generate reports on application usage with logs of events.
What are the PROS of Versa Managed SD WAN?
- Multi-cloud capabilities with leading cloud vendors; AWS, Azure + Google
- Simplified, SME targeted offering Versa Titan
- Self-managed, Co-managed and Fully-managed offerings
- Gartner named leader for WAN edge architecture
What are the CONs of Versa Managed SD WAN?
- Versa Operating System (VOS) can take time to develop an understanding
- Feature rich and can be complex to configure and navigate
- Customers say that with new patches come bugs
VeloCloud by VMware
VeloCloud was founded in 2012 and only five years later was sold for $449 Million, making it the second highest price paid yet for an SD-WAN startup. In 2017, VeloCloud was acquired by the leading virtualisation company VMware. Reinventing previously physical technologies into software defined processes is VMware's speciality, so it's no surprise that they entered the SD-WAN field. Their goal is to provide SD-WAN solutions which increases organisations scalability and growth.
VeloCloud only offers fully managed solutions, but with a slight twist compared to other providers. They allow for their partners such as GTT, BT and Lumen to offer managed SD-WAN services based on the VMware SD-WAN. This works out great for both the customer, as they have access to a wider range of services, and providers as it gives them global connectivity and yields them a reliable revenue stream.
SASE can be implemented via the VMware SASE Platform™ which allows for secure and reliable access to applications and sites. Services include; SD-WAN gateways, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) and firewall capabilities. Centralised management, advanced analytics and network-wide business-based policies are available via the VMware SD-WAN Orchestrator.
What are the PROS of VeloCloud Managed SD WAN?
- Powered by a highly respected virtualization company
- Gartner Leader for WAN Edge Infrastructure
- Accommodates any size business
What are the CONs of VeloCloud Managed SD WAN?
- May have issues integrating with other platforms
- Can be complex having different provider products running simultaneously
- Cost can be higher due to complexity and the need for multiple products
- No DIY or Co-managed services
Managed SD WAN feature matrix table.
|Vendor||Aryaka||BT Business||Cato Networks||Colt||GTT|
|Primary line of business||WAN as a service||Service provider||Vendor||Service provider||Service provider|
|SD WAN technology||Own technology||Meraki, Viptela, VeloCloud and Nokia||Own technology||Own technology||HPE Aruba, VeloCloud and Fortinet|
|Sold standalone||Sold with the Aryaka private global backbone||Sold as a managed service with BT Global DIA connectivity||No, sold as part of their co-managed or fully managed service||No, sold as part of their co-managed or fully managed service||No, sold as part of their co-managed or fully managed service|
|SD WAN management||Fully managed||Fully managed||Fully managed, co-managed||DIY, Co-managed and managed via partners||Fully managed, co-managed|
|SD WAN architecture||29 Global PoPs connected to the Aryaka private IP backbone, regional site to site traffic does not need to use the IP backbone||Global, 198 countries||50+ private global PoPs interconnected with MPLS||WAN Edge||WAN Edge|
|Primary line of business||Service provider||Service provider||Vendor||Vendor||Vendor|
|SD WAN technology||Cisco Meraki and Viptela||Fortinet, HPE Aruba||Own technology||Own technology||Own technology|
|Sold standalone||No, sold as part of their co-managed or fully managed service||No, sold as part of their co-managed or fully managed service||Yes, can be sold as appliance only||Yes, can be sold as appliance only||Yes, can be sold as appliance only|
|SD WAN management||Fully managed, co-managed||Fully managed, co-managed||Fully managed, co-managed, DIY||Fully managed, co-managed, DIY||Fully managed, co-managed, DIY|
|SD WAN architecture||Tier 1 global IP network for DIA, MPLS, private circuits||47 metro area PoPs connected via global IP backbone||Partnered with BT for DIA underlay, WAN edge based||WAN Edge||WAN Edge|