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Colt SD WAN Comparison, Review, Use Cases, News, Pros & Cons

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Focus

Proposition Focus

40%
20%
20%
20%
Managed services
SASE security
Portal
SD WAN

Cloud Focus

33.33%
33.33%
33.33%
AWS
Azure
Google Cloud

Other Focus

20%
40%
40%
Remote users
Simplicity
Complex requirements

Summary

Analyst: Thomas Stroude Contact: tstroude@netify.co.uk  

If you have questions about Colt and how their capability is aligned to your needs, email the Netify research team. UK: uk@netify.co.uk North America: northamerica@netify.com 

(Please use the UK email for ROW - Rest of the World - questions or enquiries)

Categories: 

  • SD WAN 

Sub-categories:

  • SD WAN Service Provider
  • Managed SD WAN 
  • Wholesale SD WAN

Pros:

  • Very strong coverage in Europe and good coverage in Asia - making Colt an option for both European and Asian clients. 
  • Colt have on-net presence - their network connects metropolitan networks in 51 areas, 212 cities and more than 29,000 buildings. 

Cons:

  • Only offers SD WAN solutions based on Versa Networks - although this is a good vendor, it leaves clients with less choice compared with other service providers. 
  • Many of their services are currently only available in Europe and Asia - coverage in other parts of the world is far more limited.

Netify Review:

Colt is a good choice for multinational corporations with connectivity needs centred around globally distributed locations. Their solution is strongest in Europe and Asia, and therefore businesses located in these areas requesting connectivity to public and private data centres along with cloud services are recommended. Colt have a strong partnership with Versa networks, offering a granular SD WAN solution with strong uCPE and VNF features, leveraging their global IP backbone with over 158 PoPs worldwide. 

Caution is recommended to clients located outside Europe and Asia, as some of Colt’s services are not available beyond these regions. Further, Colt’s SASE offering is somewhat limited, as it comes only as a hybrid solution for remote workers - however there are a number of strong SD WAN security features available, and SASE can be provisioned from a third-party integrator or service provider. 

Contents:

  • About Colt
  • What is the Colt SD WAN solution?
  • Configuration-Based Key Features
  • Security-Based Key Features
  • Performance-Based Key Features
  • What is the Colt SASE Security Solution?
  • How does Colt Access Cloud Vendors?
  • Does Colt Offer WAN Acceleration and Optimisation?
  • How Does Colt Support Remote Users?
  • Which Connectivity Underlay Services are Supported?
  • Do Colt Manage and Support SD WAN Underlay?
  • What is the Colt Managed, Co-managed and DIY Services Solution?
  • What Reporting and Management is Available via the Colt Portal?
  • What is the Colt SLA?
  • Which Vendors do Colt Support? 

About Colt:

Colt (previously City of London Telecommunications) was founded in 1992 with its headquarters currently based in London, United Kingdom. The company offers over 900 data centres and 52 offices globally. In 2019, Colt was named a Visionary in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure. They also offer a Net Promoter Score of 71 in Europe and 46 in Asia as of July 2021. Colt’s SD WAN offering leverages a key supplier partnership with Versa Networks. The company also offers 158+ cloud PoPs and deployed services in over 185 countries. The company was named a Strong Performer in the Forrester Wave SD WAN Services Q4 2020 and a Leader in the ISG Provider Lens, Network - Software Defined Solution and Partners, Germany 2020. 

What is the Colt SD WAN Solution?

Colt’s SD WAN as a service solution is based on Versa Networks with 10 network-based SD WAN gateways (to learn more about Versa Networks, see our review here), and leverages the Colt IQ network, a global IP backbone with Colt-owned infrastructure in 32 countries, spanning 4 continents with over 158 PoPs worldwide. The service is NFV-based with fully automated setup and configuration, combining SD WAN with open and scalable hardware. The service is available with zero-touch provisioning and supports VoIP, SIP trunking and IPv6 (Internet protocol version 6). 

Configuration-Based Key Features:

  • Access Connection Types: Colt offers clients multiple access connection types which customers can combine. These include internet, MPLS and 3G/4G LTE.
  • Colt On Demand: This allows clients to connect to remote locations situated away from Colt’s fibre network using third-party access. This is an NOD service for internet, Ethernet and MPLS services, including cloud connectivity. 
  • Wholesale: Colt offer wholesale SD WAN solutions based on Versa Networks, for resellers to sell to their clients. The solution is capable of offering customisable branding, portal and further systems, hierarchy levels and processes modification. End customers can benefit from high quality SD WAN services with no reference to Colt - as if wholesale customers were buying directly.
     
  • uCPE: Delivers 3pp unmanaged VNF hosting functionalities such as Checkpoint with Firewall offered as an additional VNF. This is available as Versa FlexVNF and can be deployed either on a Colt uCPE box, or a Versa verified whitebox appliance - both options are installed on customer premises.
  • Internet Breakout: SD WAN sites local internet connection is utilised by to and from traffic as opposed to going through a centre network gateway. 
  • IP Address Management: Colt’s SD WAN service treats IP addresses as relevant only to their customer VPN - this means customer IP addresses may be public or private.
     
  • Routing: Routing is available between Colt managed CPE and customer LAN - and dynamic and static routing are both supported on SD WAN, enabling routing towards customer LAN.
     
  • Network Configuration Options: Available with hub and spoke or fully meshed network configuration options, with SD WAN allowing for connectivity between SD WAN and non-SD WAN (such as traditional IPVPN) sites. 
  • On-Net Presence: Colt’s IQ Network is a large fibre network, which currently offers connectivity to networks in 51 metropolitan areas, 212 cities and more than 29,000 buildings, providing low latency and high performance and security. The service comes with constant operational management, and a single view of service performance and activity in line with SLAs. 

Security-Based Key Features:

  • SD WAN Gateways: Transit gateways that sit between encrypted SD WAN VPN and a normal IP VPN. Is also capable of acting as a hub for connecting various SD WAN sites on disjoint networks. This service is implemented on a regional basis, with application aware connectivity and encryption.
     
  • Next Generation Firewall (NGFW): NGFW offers clients protection against modern internet-based security threats such as targeted attacks, malware attacks and application-layer attacks.
     
  • Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) Protection: Available with SD WAN services, DDoS attack protection services protect client DMZ or LAN that may be exposed to the internet - for example via web or mail services.
     
  • IPsec Encryption: Designed to ensure that client’s proprietary data is fully protected during transit and remains inaccessible beyond intended destination and origination points. 
  • L4 Stateful Firewall: Provided via VersaFlex VNF stateful firewall feature on CPE, L4 stateful firewall is fully managed by the customer, once the CPE is shipped Colt is no longer responsible. 

Performance-Based Key Features:

  • Load-Balancing: Clients can optimise their bandwidth using load-balancing over broadband with multiple internet uplinks, 3G/4G LTE with Ethernet handoff, all in addition to MPLS connections.
  • NetFlow and IPFIX: Collects and monitors network data and analyses it to ascertain where traffic is travelling to and from, and how much traffic is being generated.
     
  • Dynamic Multipath Traffic Steering: Allows clients to utilise internet and MPLS uplinks in a redundant or load-sharing configuration, with options to route traffic through protocol, IP address and/or port (socket) numbers. Clients can route specific application traffic based on several parameters. A number of traffic policies (MPLS vs internet) are also set up when the service is deployed - these are based on basic business rule settings which can be changed at any time via the self-service portal (see, What Reporting and Management is Available Via the Colt Portal?). The settings include protocol and/or port numbers, IP address/subnet and/or pre-loaded applications. 

What is the Colt SASE Security Solution?

Colt do not offer a direct SASE solution as such, however they offer SD WAN Remote Access, a SASE-enabled hybrid solution powered by Versa Networks SASE. The solution secures connections between remote workers and business applications and data, regardless of physical location. The service is available with management from a single pane of glass. Further SASE may be available from Versa Networks via an integrator or service provider. 

How does Colt access Cloud Vendors?

Colt offer multi-cloud connectivity that connects branch sites directly to cloud-based SaaS and IaaS, managing the solution from the Colt SD WAN portal (see, What Reporting and Management is Available Via the Colt Portal?). Direct connectivity into multiple cloud environments is available with Layer 3 connectivity and/or MPLS into multiple different cloud providers in one comprehensive solution. Backed with end-to-end security, analytics and performance SLAs (see, What is the Colt SLA?). 

Colt’s multi-cloud solution includes Colt network-hosted gateways that offer dedicated connectivity to the cloud via AWS DirectConnect, Google Cloud Interconnect and Azure ExpressRoute. Currently the Colt multi-cloud solution is only available in Europe, but there are plans to extend the service in the future. 

Does Colt offer WAN Acceleration and Optimisation?

Colt uses WAN acceleration and optimisation to improve site network reliability and performance over multiple WAN links, enriching the user experience. WAN optimisation and acceleration reduces network congestion and maximises bandwidth utilisation by nullifying the effects of latency. TCP retransmission problems such as bit errors, handoff errors and errors caused by delays are curtailed through the use of intelligent traffic flow management. See below for the WAN acceleration and optimisation features offered by Colt:

  • Packet Cloning: Provides packet replication across two or more paths, delivering a mirrored packet to the destination if one is lost. 
  • Forward Error Correction (FEC): Recreates lost data packets at the destination without any additional jitter or latency. 

How does Colt support Remote Users?

To meet the needs of contemporary network issues such as SASE transition, digital transformation and anywhere network usage, Colt uses Versa Secure Access as an SD WAN feature. This distributed solution connects teleworkers to enterprise applications across public or private clouds as well as enterprise data centres. See below to find out what components make up the Secure Access Solution:

  • Remote Access Client: The Remote Access Client is a software agent that runs on client devices and extends the SD WAN. This creates an encrypted, safe connection to the Versa Cloud Gateway from remote devices running the client.
  • Remote Access Portal: Allows enterprise admins to leverage big database analytics platform for historical and real time reporting at a user, application and network level as well as service monitoring.
     
  • Remote Access Gateways: Secures the enterprise network from external threats, allows application access authorisation and user authentication. Gateways are globally distributed, based on the FlexVNF/VOS Platform, provisioning access to enterprise applications as a secure on-ramp. 

Which Connectivity Underlay Services are Supported?

Colt supports private MPLS and public internet, as well as their global IP backbone. Their SD WAN solutions can be provided over business internet, broadband internet and dedicated internet access (DIA) connectivity. A range of transport technologies are available, including xDSL, 3G/4G LTE (only available in Europe with Colt provided SIMs), MPLS, wireless and Ethernet.

Private and public MPLS can be used to create an encrypted overlay VPN. Underlay also offers services such as business-grade IP VPN, application-aware routing, and secure broadband internet with full QoS and security over WAN connections.

Do Colt Manage and Support SD WAN Underlay?

The Colt global IP backbone is actively monitored with 24/7 access to a local language help desk and the Colt Online web portal contains customer trouble tickets and bills. The portal and help desk is only available to direct Colt customers, Colt are not responsible for the operation and relationship with carrier end customers for SD WAN wholesale. 

What is the Colt Managed, Co-managed and DIY Services Solution? 

Colt offer a managed SD WAN solution either directly or through a carrier. The solution may also be co-managed depending on the service provider chosen.

What Reporting and Management is Available Via the Colt Portal?

The Colt customer self-service portal provides network management that delivers on customer needs and is available for both end users and carriers. The portal features traffic data reporting, visibility, policy control and both carriers and end users are provided with portal customisation options through their wholesale service. The portal enables on demand, real time orchestration, use and modification of network services such as mapping applications to specific WAN uplinks or choosing when applications should be switched to a secondary path. The portal offers the features as listed in the table below:

Portal Pages 

Page Details

Dashboard

  • Gives an overview of all provisioned sites on a geographically accurate map.
  • Dashboard allows regularly used graphs or reports to be pinned to the Dashboard view.
  • Status of Pending orders are listed.

Policy Management

  • Per site traffic steering policy rules.
  • Per site add, delete, edit and back-up traffic policies.
  • Map traffic to WAN uplinks on multiple parameters like source and destination IP address, source and destination port/socket, protocol and applications. (More than 2,500 applications supported.)
  • Define policy to switch between WAN links based on latency, jitter, packet loss, traffic Rx/Tx thresholds.
  • Multiple metrics per policy can be added.
  • Bulk copy pushes policies to multiple sites by single button click.

Firewall Management

  • Per site firewall rules overview.
  • Per site add, delete, edit and back-up firewall policies.
  • Policies applied to Internet and SD WAN for both inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Create firewall rules based on multiple parameter like source and destination IP address, source and destination port/socket.
  • Create Application layer inbound and outbound Firewall policies with source/destination IP addressing.
  • Create DNAT for LAN and DMZ zone rules by IP address and port number.
  • Bulk copy pushes policies to multiple sites by single button click.
  • Default policy deny all.

Firewall Analytics

  • Lists all active firewall rules.
  • Top 10 (or more) applications with sessions, traffic Tx/Rx and bandwidth used.
  • Historical view by day, week, month or custom time frame.

Interface Analytics

  • Delay, jitter, loss ratio, traffic in/out and number of sessions on per interface basis.
  • Historical view by day, week, month or custom time frame.

Application Analytics

  • Application bi-directional bandwidth utilisation.
  • Top application information pertaining to sessions, and traffic utilisation (Rx/Tx).
  • Application view can be filtered or selected per application.
  • Historical view by day, week, month or custom time frame.

DDoS

  • Create DDoS attack profiles and suspend actions.
  • Historical view by day, week, month or custom time frame of DDoS attack analytics associated with attack profiles.

Device

  • Detailed CPE hardware information.
  • Self CPE diagnostics, including ping and traceroute.
  • Data synchronisation icon to re-synchronise the Portal and SD WAN bases.
  • WAN interface details including MAC, status, IP address, speed, traffic Rx/Tx and QoS policies.
  • LAN interface details including MAC, ARP information, IP address, speed and routing policies.

Colt Portal Features, Colt SD WAN External Service Guide (Colt, 2021) See more at: 

https://f.hubspotusercontent10.net/hubfs/344164/EN_SD%20WAN%20External%20Service%20Guide.pdf?__hstc=193661298.4f2cbfb14b1a0f9ba06d6bcbc0f24b48.1632304232995.1632304232995.1632384616859.2&__hssc=193661298.3.1632384616859&__hsfp=1357462694 

To personalise the Colt SD WAN wholesale customer portal the customer or carrier is required to fulfil some prerequisites. These are then captured by the sales team and passed on to the portal team. For more information on specific requirements please see the Colt SD WAN External Service Guide p.16-17 (Colt, 2021)

What is the Colt SLA?

The Colt Service Level Agreement (SLA) uses their global fibre network to offer a 99.99% annual service availability. If Colt do not meet agreed SLA targets, clients will be paid a compensation fee. More SLA details are available by contacting a Colt Account Executive. 

Who does COLT use for SD WAN?

  • Colt currently use Versa as their SD WAN and SASE security solution.

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