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Compare the leading SD-WAN vendors before you buy

This SD-WAN vendor comparison chart is a useful starting point to get information about SD-WAN deployment options, pricing, cloud connectivity options and more.

Preparing for software-defined WAN deployment requires substantial research to determine what organizations need...

from their WANs. But, with a growing number of options in the market, choosing which SD-WAN vendor to go with can be overwhelming. To help out, the chart below provides readers with an SD-WAN vendor comparison.

Our editors focused on enterprise SD-WAN technology and only included vendors that directly offer an SD-WAN service to customers -- no middleware or resellers. This vendor comparison does not include fully managed SD-WAN options offered by service providers.

In the chart below, you'll find a side-by-side comparison of 13 SD-WAN vendors -- listed alphabetically -- that addresses a variety of important features to consider, including security, WAN optimization, deployment options, public cloud connectivity and available pricing.

SD-WAN requirements considered fundamental are not broken down in the vendor comparison. These include the following:

  • The SD-WAN offering should create a network overlay that abstracts the existing WAN.
  • It should enable dynamic bandwidth allocation for traffic efficiency.
  • It should be transport-agnostic and support multiple types of connectivity -- like MPLSEthernet, cellular and broadband, for example.

SD-WAN vendors

The chart below compares individual SD-WAN vendors and their offerings. The section about deployment options explains how each vendor's SD-WAN offerings are available to customers, such as physical appliances, virtual appliances, cloud-based instances, universal customer premises equipment and more.

The cloud extension section details which SD-WAN vendors enable connectivity to public cloud providers -- like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform -- and various SaaS applications.

The security section provides a quick rundown about each vendor's security features, such as stateful firewall capabilities, web filtering and integration with various security vendors.

The WAN optimization section discusses whether an SD-WAN vendor offers integrated WAN optimization capabilities.

Finally, the pricing section lists all available pricing details -- including subscription-based offerings and appliance costs -- as provided by the vendors.

SD-WAN vendor comparison
Use this chart to compare features, pricing and security from multiple SD-WAN vendors.

Additional questions to ask about SD-WAN technology

When looking for the right SD-WAN option for your company, it's a good idea to add the following questions to your vendor comparison list.

How easy is SD-WAN deployment and provisioning? The majority of SD-WAN vendors say they offer zero-touch provisioning. But, even with that, configuration for any organization's deployment will take time. It's a question of how much and how easy. Some options may require a few more steps before the SD-WAN connection is established, compared with plugging cables into an SD-WAN device that automatically begins provisioning.

What routing and other protocols does the SD-WAN technology support? Check with each prospective SD-WAN vendor to determine which routing protocols it supports, such as Border Gateway ProtocolOpen Shortest Path First and static routing.

Also, factor in IPv6 support, if that is an important consideration for your organization. Versa Networks, for example, supports IPv6 addresses, while Silver Peak supports IPv6 forwarding. CloudGenix uses an approach that eliminates the need for routing protocols, but it supports standard routing protocols during a customer transition.

Does the SD-WAN platform require specialty edge devices? Are those devices available in both virtual and physical hardware options? Is the hardware proprietary, or can you use commodity hardware? Also, ask how the vendor's SD-WAN equipment integrates with existing routers and legacy networks. This is valuable information for organizations with multiple distributed branch offices.

What are the monitoring, management and reporting capabilities? SD-WAN uses software-defined networking technology to establish centralized control and management across the entire network. This enables SD-WAN to better monitor and prioritize network traffic, which improves application performance, packet loss and security.

Most SD-WAN vendors include management and monitoring capabilities with the SD-WAN platform. Others work with third-party management tools, and some offer additional, more comprehensive software for customers to purchase. Ensure the SD-WAN option you select provides the management support and network insight you will need for proper troubleshooting.

What partnerships does the SD-WAN vendor have in place? Many SD-WAN vendors have established partnerships with security providers, like Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks, to integrate their security services with SD-WAN technology. Also, take into consideration any potential SaaS integration and partnerships the SD-WAN vendor might have. Most SD-WAN vendors have also partnered with managed service providers to offer their SD-WAN technology via managed SD-WAN.

Next Steps

What to look for in an SD-WAN service

SD-WAN has some pitfalls to consider

Use these four steps to prepare for SD-WAN deployment

Ask these questions when choosing managed SD-WAN

This was last published in August 2019

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What factors would make a vendor's SD-WAN service stand out as a viable option for your organization?
Disclosure: I'm the technology evangelist in the office of the CTO for Cato Networks. The views expressed here are mine. 

Based on my experience working across SD-WAN vendors, engaging with dozens of IT managers directly, and in our recent survey of more than 350 IT professionals, a number of factors come to mind (in no particular order):
1. Easy transition. Hybrid configurations of SD-WAN and MPLS are a requirement for most enterprises. More than half of respondents to our survey expect MPLS investment to increase or stay the same. 
2. SLAs / predictability. IT managers need to accommodate for the erraticness of the Internet. In some cases, they only move applications from MPLS to the Internet that are less critical to the business and/or are not significantly impacted by changes in latency and loss. In other cases, they have technology preferences, looking for SD-WAN providers that run their own backbones or have loss/latency compensating technology. 
3. Security is very important. If the Internet is going to be the backbone then you need more than the encrypted tunnels of SD-WAN. Your vendor should articulate a strategy for delivering firewalling, secure web gateways, IPS, anti-malware etc. to branch offices without having to incur the latency of backhauling traffic. 
4. Cloud support is a given.  SD-WAN private cloud (AWS/Azure/Google etc.) support was a novelty at one time, but today it's essential for a complete enterprise. 
5. Rapid deployment. Should be obvious, but rapid installs continue to be a priority. It's not that way with every vendor. 
6. Maturity.  Company maturity and product stability - the things we always look at with new technologies - are equally important with SD-WANs. 
7. Management - It's a given that every vendor will provide centralized management of the SD-WAN. Understanding how that management involves others areas, such as security policies, is important.

For those interested. The complete survey results are available here.

Which SD-WAN features would your organization look for from a vendor?