VSG Global SD-WAN Leaderboard Rankings and Results

Orange Business Services (France), AT&T (U.S.), and Verizon (U.S.) topped Vertical Systems Group’s (VSG) latest leaderboard for global carrier-managed SD-WAN. They were followed in the rankings by NTT (Japan), BT (UK), Telefonica Global Solutions (Spain), and Vodafone (UK).  [The rank order is based on site share outside of the provider’s home country, as of June 30, 2021.]

Rosemary Cochran, principal analyst and co-founder of Vertical Systems Group said that global networks are far more complex to manage and administer compared to domestic SD-WAN offerings. They often require service providers to negotiate contracts with multiple countries, meet diverse regulatory requirements, and support numerous network technologies.

This industry benchmark for multinational SD-WAN market presence ranks companies that hold a 5% or higher share of billable retail sites outside of their respective home countries.

Twelve companies qualify for the Mid-2021 Global Provider Managed SD-WAN Challenge Tier (in alphabetical order):

Aryaka (U.S.), Colt (U.K.), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Global Cloud Xchange (India), GTT (U.S.), Hughes (U.S.), Lumen (U.S.), PCCW Global (Hong  Kong), Singtel (Singapore), Tata (India), Telia (Sweden) and Telstra (Australia).

The Challenge Tier includes companies with site share between 1% and 5% of this defined SD-WAN segment.

“We’re pleased to release the first benchmark that measures Global Provider market presence based on multinational managed SD-WAN customer sites,” said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “Enterprises with business-essential applications that span multiple regions of the world are choosing SD-WAN solutions from network operators with the global infrastructures, experience, partnerships and technical expertise necessary to deliver world-class services.”

Research Highlights for Global Provider SD-WAN Services:

  1. Orange Business Services gained the top share rank on the Mid-2021 Global Provider Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD with the largest number of customer sites installed.
  2. Vertical’s SD-WAN Coverage Analysis for five regional markets – North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa/Middle East, Asia/Pacific – shows that all seven companies ranked on the Mid-2021 Global Provider SD-WAN LEADERBOARD have good to strong coverage in at least three of these regions.
  3. COVID-19 continues to appreciably impact every region of the world. Just being able to get the SD-WAN equipment and support the services has been a disruptive experience for service providers and their customers.
  4. Challenges cited by Global SD-WAN operators include: workforce health protection, tracking the shift back from remote to office environments, service disconnects due to business closures, and supply chain disruptions.
  5. Most multinational Managed SD-WAN customer implementations are hybrid network configurations that incorporate MPLS, IP VPN, Cloud connectivity or other services, plus multiple security capabilities that are integral or supplied by technology partners.
  6. SD-WAN customers with MPLS connections are migrating to more cloud-suitable broadband services that provide bandwidth flexibility and lower pricing.
  7. Ethernet DIA (Dedicated Internet Access) is the preferred choice for SD-WAN customers that require dedicated, symmetrical connectivity.

Fictitious image of a global mesh connected SD-WAN


Five of the seven companies on the Mid-2021 Global Provider SD-WAN LEADERBOARD are ranked on the 2020 Global Provider Ethernet LEADERBOARD (in rank order): AT&T, Orange Business Services, Verizon, BT Global Services and NTT.

  1. Two companies ranked on the Mid-2021 Global Provider SD-WAN LEADERBOARD – AT&T and Verizon – have attained MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services Certification to date. Additionally, three companies cited in the Challenge Tier – Colt, PCCW Global and Telia – have MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Services certification.
  2. The primary technology suppliers to the nineteen Mid-2021 Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD and Challenge Tier companies are as follows (in alphabetical order): Cisco, Fortinet, HPE Aruba, Nuage Networks (Nokia), Versa and VMware.

The Market Player tier includes providers with site share below 1%. Companies in the Mid-2021 Market Player tier are as follows (in alphabetical order):

Batelco (Bahrain), China Telecom (China), Claro Enterprise Solutions (Mexico), CMC Networks (South Africa), Cogent (U.S.), Epsilon (Singapore), Etisalat (Abu Dhabi), Expereo (Netherlands), HGC Global (Hong Kong), Intelsat (U.S.), KDDI (Japan), Masergy (U.S.), Meriplex (U.S.), PLDT  Enterprise (Philippines), SES (Luxembourg), Sparkle (Italy), StarHub (Singapore), Syringa Networks (U.S.), T-Mobile (U.S.), Telenor (Norway), Telin(Singapore), Transtelco (U.S.), Virgin Media (U.K.), Zayo (U.S.) as well as other providers (unnamed) selling SD-WAN services outside their home country.

Closing Comment:

This VSG report highlights the disparate implementations of global SD-WANs. “…implementations are hybrid network configurations that incorporate MPLS, IP VPN, Cloud connectivity or other services, plus multiple security capabilities that are integral or supplied by technology partners.”

That is because there is no clear definition of functionality (yeah we know about MEF’s definition) and no specification of any exposed interfaces, e.g. UNI, network node to network node, or NNI between two SD-WAN networks.

As such, global SD-WANs are really a concept, not a set of required networking technologies with defined reference points and standardized interfaces/APIs.  As a result, it’s a serious challenge for the global SD-WAN operator to ensure interoperability between each of the different subnetwork interfaces so that end to end connectivity is achieved.



Mid-2021 Global Provider Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD

Shift from SDN to SD-WANs to SASE Explained; Network Virtualization’s important role

Futurium: 2020 SD-WAN market set to accelerate


4 thoughts on “VSG Global SD-WAN Leaderboard Rankings and Results

  1. From MEF (Why is the Metro Ethernet Forum standardizing SD-WANs?):
    To help accelerate SD-WAN market growth and enable the creation of powerful, new hybrid networking solutions optimized for digital transformation, MEF published the industry’s first global standard defining an SD-WAN service and its service attributes—MEF 70.

    We created the SD-WAN service standard within the context of our MEF 3.0 Global Services Framework. Combining standardized SD-WAN service with dynamic high-speed underlay connectivity services enables service providers to offer solutions with unprecedented user- and application-directed control over network resources and service capabilities.

    MEF 70.1: The SD-WAN Service Attributes and Service Framework Standard defines the externally visible behavior of SD-WAN Services. A Service deployment is based on an agreement between an SD-WAN Subscriber (the buyer) and an SD-WAN Service Provider (the seller) that includes agreement on the values of a set of SD-WAN Service Attributes defined in this document.


  2. Another SD-WAN Definition from Silver Peak (acquired by HP-Aruba):

    A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services – including MPLS, LTE and broadband internet services – to securely connect users to applications.

    An SD-WAN uses a centralized control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN. This increases application performance and delivers a high quality user experience, resulting in increased business productivity, agility and reduced costs for IT.

    Traditional WANs based on conventional routers were never designed for the cloud. They typically require backhauling all traffic – including cloud- destined traffic – from branch offices to a hub or headquarters data center where advanced security inspection services can be applied. The delay caused by backhaul impairs application performance resulting in a poor user experience and lost productivity.

    Unlike the traditional router-centric WAN architecture, the SD-WAN model is designed to fully support applications hosted in on-premise data centers, public or private clouds and SaaS services such as Salesforce.com, Workday, Office 365 and Dropbox, while delivering the highest levels of application performance.

    An SD-WAN enables cloud-first enterprises to deliver a superior application quality of experience (QoEX) for users. Using intelligence and by identifying applications, an SD-WAN provides application-aware routing across the WAN. Each class of applications receives the appropriate QoS and security policy enforcement, all in accordance with business needs.

    Secure local internet breakout of IaaS and SaaS application traffic from the branch provides the highest levels of cloud performance while protecting the enterprise from threats. Unlike SD-WAN, the conventional router-centric model distributes the control function across all devices in the network and simply routes traffic based on TCP/IP addresses and ACLs. This model tends to be rigid, inefficient and not cloud-friendly, resulting in a poor user experience.


  3. And where do SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) WANs fit in?

    Analysts report SASE has reached 5% to 20% market penetration among its target audience in the nearly two years since its inception.

    SASE stitches together zero-trust network access (ZTNA), cloud access security broker (CASB), secure web gateway (SWG), cloud-based firewalls, and SD-WAN into a single cloud-delivered service. The combined service enables identity-based access to workloads running anywhere in the network based on real-time context, security, and compliance policies.

    Since it was first announced in summer 2019, the SASE product category has seen broad adoption among security and networking vendors alike, setting off a flurry of mergers and acquisitions as they wrestled for a leadership position.

    While nearly every SD-WAN and security vendor has announced a SASE offering of some kind, Gartner cited Cato Networks, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks, Versa Networks, VMware, and Zscaler as sample vendors in its latest report.

    Gartner notes several factors contributing to SASE’s meteoric growth. While the nearly overnight shift to remote work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic played an undeniable role, the report found cloud adoption, an appetite for zero-trust architectures, and reduced complexity have driven SASE deployments.

    “Network security models based on data center perimeter security are ill-suited to address the dynamic needs of a modern digital business and its distributed digital workforce,” the report reads. “Keeping complexity manageable is a significant factor for the adoption of SASE.”

    By 2024, Gartner expects 30% of enterprises will have transitioned away from this model to “cloud-delivered SWG, CASB, ZTNA, and branch office firewall-as-a-service capabilities” from a single vendor. “A full SASE implementation requires a coordinated and cohesive approach across network, security, and networking teams,” the report reads.

  4. Using SD-WAN can change the company’s approach to online performance, communication, collaboration and applications. SD-WANs support connections between different branches and can be used in offices, stores and other work environments with easy implementation and ongoing maintenance.

    SD-WAN provides centralized, cloud-based distribution, which is especially useful for companies using cloud-based applications. Scalability opportunities and automatic scaling opportunities can be used smoothly at thousands of end points. In addition to improving the deployment process, it also creates an improved framework for ongoing analysis.

    Another priority that modern businesses should consider is security. Enabling SD-WAN eliminates the need to return to data centers because each endpoint has security features. Data encryption and advanced threat intelligence systems ensure that users, devices, and applications are secure at all times.

    The user experience across the network is greatly improved for a number of reasons. The deployment of SD-WAN systems, which actively redirect users when traffic problems arise, saves valuable time and avoids excessive stress. This dynamic approach overcomes link decline among many other issues. In particular, collaborative opportunities that allow you to sync automatically across the board create better functionality.

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