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SD-WAN Vendor Comparison – A USP View

05/18/2022 by Dr. Branislav Poletanovic

A row of 5 doors plus the headline "SD-WAN vendor comparison" to resemble the many choices available with regards to SD-WAN technology providers.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or TikTok? Which social network is the best one? It depends – would everybody answer! It depends what you want to do. Each network has its unique selling point (USP) – e. g. Instagram has its basis in photos and their stories, twitter aims at giving you news etc. Having said this about social networks, it brings us automatically to SD-WAN networks.

Which vendor is the best: VMware (VeloCloud), Aruba (Silverpeak), Juniper, Aryaka, Meraki or the Ciscos of the world? Same answer as above: it depends.

Let us make a short journey through the USPs of these vendors. How do they see themselves?

Here's a snapshot as of Q2/2022:

Fortinet: Comes from a security background and have been a leader in this field for many years. They combine their security capability and their own hardware and operating system (OS) to deliver a single pane of glass for network and security. This makes the Fortinet SASE offering a compelling and flexible solution that is ready to deliver. The ability of the solution to scale is in part due to the capability of the OS coupled with its security hardware capability.

Rating: Strong security integrated onto a scalable hardware platform – SASE ready.

Versa Networks: The founder came from Juniper with the vision that the software is key to SD-WAN. The result of this is that Versa Networks has developed an operating system from the ground up and this has enabled them to create a security focused, scalable SD-WAN offering that incorporates SASE capabilities. The solution incorporates integrates its own cloud connectivity capability, OS, and all managed through a single orchestrator providing the essential single pane of glass view. It is one of the fully convergent and integrated solutions on the market offering a ‘no surprises’ package.

Rating: Software is key in SD-WAN. This is the core of Versa Networks. This could be the one-stop shop solution that fits the bill for organisations looking for a single solution that does it all – SASE ready.

VMware (VeloCloud): Like the names says – VMware (VeloCloud) is strong in the cloud connectivity business. None of the other SD-WAN vendors offer such a large set of cloud connectivity options. They clearly focus on this. However, connection alone does not guarantee performance. The second pillar is application-aware routing and optimization. VMware (VeloCloud) especially focus on the optimization of voice and video applications – surely important in ‘Working-from-Home-due-to-Covid times’. But let's not forget SASE. In addition to the SD-WAN network capabilities VMware (VeloCloud) have now integrated a suite of SASE functionality into their offering and bring the advantages of this via a single management platform.

Rating:If a cloud-first strategy from a variety of players is important to you then VMware (VeloCloud) is a match for you. If audio and video are a focus, then VMware (VeloCloud) would also be a vendor to be considered – SASE ready.

Aruba (Silverpeak): It is a solution that is easy to implement. The focus is on optimization and acceleration of your network traffic across your WAN based on profiling which the vendor calls "Business Intent Overlays". For this, Aruba (Silverpeak) has the capability to recognise over 10,000+ applications and optimize automatically with these profiles. This is an enabler for active acceleration of your network and hence your user experience. Furthermore, they integrate SASE of security vendors via API directly into the Business Intent Overlay. That is an alternative approach as they want to offer the freedom of choice for SASE and not a proprietary Aruba solution of it.

Rating: Existing and large application landscape in your company which should be optimized and accelerated? Choose Aruba (Silverpeak). SASE delivered by third party fully integrated via automated APIs.

Juniper: This vendor has its past in the service provider hardware area and is pushing into the future using these strengths. Juniper has strong security capabilities and a range of powerful devices. They offer a selectable range of features that can be easily switched on or off via licenses. In addition, Juniper are one of the market leaders with adoption of artificial intelligence. Juniper uses this for root cause analysis, self-configuration etc. which for sure will play an important role in the future of networks. SASE is also the future development for Juniper and they started with first related services. Hence it is not a complete offering but the journey has started.

Rating: You need powerful hardware, a strong security out-of-the-box solution with the possibility of AI thrown in, then Juniper should be high on the list. SASE is in the starting blocks.

Aryaka: No doubts – Aryaka is the exotic SD-WAN choice. They even asked Gartner to take them out of the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Why? Well, Aryaka has its own private backbone. This has large advantages when it comes to traffic acceleration. You do not share bandwidth or SLAs with somebody else. The second USP is that they have points of production in China and combined with this private backbone capability they have an effective solution that bypasses issues with the Great Chinese Firewall. Couple this with an agile fast deployment model and you have a winning SD-WAN formula.

Rating: For true application acceleration, especially if you have latency sensitive or data hungry real time applications like CAD and distributed engineering teams around the world. Sites in China? Aryaka is your choice! SASE on roadmap for 2022.

Meraki: Meraki is neat and tidy SD-WAN. Don’t have a network that is complex or requires extensive separation? Then you are probably looking for a simple plug and play alternative? You will be wanting Meraki. Basically, plug it in and it runs. The simplicity and ease of use is its focus. Regarding SASE, Meraki share the Cisco Umbrella approach. Though all ingredients are there, they are not fully integrated to one comprehensive SASE story.

Rating: Simplicity! Don’t need a complicated solution that covers all the key elements of LAN and SD-WAN, then look no further. SASE: still a bit of a walk necessary.

Cisco: It is perhaps one of the oldest players in this market but still very relevant. Cisco offers you the good proven capabilities, an upgrade path for existing customers alongside the addition of a full SD-WAN/ LAN solution. You get SD-WAN with known hardware, connecting to the cloud services and plenty of other possibilities for configuration. These broad capabilities including the security with Umbrella deliver a strong vision to SASE. Each ingredient is available and the integration ongoing.

Rating: You know what you have and full SASE on the way.

Now, you know which vendor to choose – it clearly depends on your business needs. Adjust your choice to the focus of the vendors and it will be a good fit.

One more thing: Price. Yes, true point but by experience: when you have the same properties and compare like for like then the prices are pretty close to each other. Make sure you have a trusted vendor agnostic advisor with a complete view of the market at your side and then you won’t be comparing apples with oranges.

Do you want more insights from smart connectivity and network professionals?

Dr. Branislav Poletanovic

Sales Engagement Manager at Deutsche Telekom Global Business Solutions