2020 SD-WAN Vendor Guide


SD-WAN Introduction

Every smart IT decision maker is seriously considering SD-WAN for their corporate network. MPLS, once the favored networking technology for business, is now losing its luster. You may have been told you can to rip out your expensive MPLS and replace it with SD-WAN over broadband to save big bucks. You may also have heard that SD-WAN boosts your cloud app performance—even on mobile devices. But you take all of it with a grain of salt and are looking for the objective truth about what SD-WAN can do for your company.

When you look at the recent industry surveys and analysis around SD-WAN, the results are clear:

SD-WAN over the next 2 years

Global Network Traffic
Average Total Cost of Ownership Reduction
% Of companies planning to use SD-WAN

The selection of the right SD-WAN solution for your company can be a time-consuming and complex task. There are many criteria to consider, including: 

  • What apps are critical for your business?
  • What are your security needs (and are you subject to GDPR)?
  • Do you prefer self or turnkey management solutions?

The SD-WAN Rankings Vendor Guide 2020 will help you to evaluate this wide variety of options and considerations that should factor into your technology planning processes.

2019 SD-WAN Adoption

49% of Businesses identified SD-WAN as a priority.  This represents a fundamental shift from legacy networks including MPLS.

Cloud Migration is driving adoption

  • 70%
  • 35%
  • 34%
  • 23%
  • 18%

Digital Transformation initiatives are being lead by these topics.

So how does SD-WAN work?

As with any other network, SD-WAN is a way for devices to reach each other on the Internet. So, when a device connects to an SD-WAN router, the device is connecting to the network in the same way that your computer would, by going through the router’s IP address. This is referred to as a “broadcast” IP address. 


Many devices can send their broadcast IP address through the SD-WAN interface. But to provide security, SD-WAN routers must restrict broadcast traffic to only trusted networks. This means that if your computer wants to communicate with the internet, it needs to connect to one of the network’s trusted networks or to a secure access point that is authorized to communicate with the Internet. So, as long as you have SD-WAN endpoints on your corporate network, all traffic flowing between those endpoints are trusted as if it were on your local network. Because SD-WAN can work over inexpensive broadband connections rather than MPLS, SD-WAN architectures reduce OPEX to allow increased savings over traditional rigid networks.

Is it time to rip & replace my MPLS network?

The apex of all SD-WAN hype is that companies can rip out their current (and really expensive) MPLS networks and replace them with broadband links and SD-WAN for a 50X cost savings. Those are unrealistic expectations for the majority of all businesses. The reason? 

  • MPLS is designed to provide the same connectivity over multiple carriers
  • SD-WAN is designed to provide connectivity over multiple networks with a lower latency

This means SD-WAN is basically a network communications protocol, not wizardry. Networks and the apps running across them are all subject to the laws of physics. If the SD-WAN savings on your network sounds too good to be true, then it likely is.

MPLS isn't dead

The enterprise intends to continue to leverage Hybrid solutions in conjunction with SD-WAN indicating that MPLS will remain a large part of Global Networking Strategies.

2021 SD-WAN Adoption*

By 2021, It is estimated that almost 3/4th’s of businesses will begin implementing SD-WAN

SD-WAN Rankings’ Vendor Definitions

There are three types of SD-WAN vendors in today’s market. SD-WAN Rankings categorizes our list of vendors based on their ability to provide their solutions to either domestic North American small-to-midsize business (SMB) or global enterprises as per the following solution definitions:


DIY SD-WAN Solutions

Combines a low-cost hardware appliance (a “box”) and proprietary software to create a WAN that typically runs over the top on either DIA or broadband. Companies who choose DIY SD-WAN solutions are paying CAPEX by purchasing the SD-WAN boxes and software licenses from the DIY provider or reseller. Bandwidth is also a separate purchase and can sometimes be sourced by the DIY reseller. As the name suggests, all set up, management, and technical support for a DIY SD-WAN solution is the responsibility of the purchaser rather than the provider or reseller.




Managed SD-WAN Providers

A provider that bundles bandwidth, SD-WAN (hardware and software), and value-adds such as cybersecurity or unified communications (typically provided by 3rd-party partners) into a single managed service for a monthly OPEX cost. Managed SD-WAN Providers position themselves as a “one-stop-shop” for connectivity and support, often with no CAPEX and minimal intervention required for the support and management of the SD-WAN hardware and software. Customers usually purchase DIA or broadband separately as it is rare for Managed SD-WAN Providers to own their own networks.




Carrier-based SD-WAN Solutions

An incumbent local or national telecommunications carrier who bundles a DIY SD-WAN box/software, set up, and support into a managed service over the carrier’s existing network infrastructure. Carrier-based SD-WAN is offered to SMBs up to large enterprises as either a fully managed or co-managed OPEX model. Typical customers for Carrier-based SD-WAN solutions are either those who already have MPLS through the incumbent telco and do not want to change providers or are large global enterprises who don’t want to spend the CAPEX for a DIY SD-WAN but require a “named” provider for their networking services.





Trusted SD-WAN Advisors

SDWAN Rankings exists to help you find the best solutions to help with your networking needs. Organizations selecting SD-WAN providers often rely on the partner community as trusted advisors to help select these networking technologies.  We can help you select a partner that will help you through vendor selection at no cost. ever. If you’d like an introduction to SD-WAN vendors or partners, let us know