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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- SD-WAN customers with MPLS connections are migrating to more cloud-suitable broadband services that provide bandwidth flexibility and lower pricing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Shift from SDN to SD-WANs to SASE Explained; Network Virtualization’s important role
5 thoughts on “VSG Global SD-WAN Leaderboard Rankings and Results”
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.
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.
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.
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.
SD-WAN provides a secure path from siloed enterprise networks to the public, private and hybrid cloud
SD-WAN is a reset in thinking about how a Wide Area Network (WAN) should work. It’s a virtual WAN architecture, an overlay that can work with different network transport services, including broadband. SD-WAN enables organizations to centrally manage traffic using the principles of Software Defined Networking (SDN), without the limitations imposed by physical network infrastructure.
SD-WAN centralizes network control, management, provisioning and security, despite the continued decentralization of data, as businesses move to the cloud. A few companies stand apart from the rest when it comes to offering SD-WAN solutions. Cisco is the market leader, followed by Fortinet and VMware, according to a report from Dell’Oro Group.
Enterprise spend on SD-WAN has accelerated in recent times. Businesses are upgrading network infrastructure to accommodate changing objectives and shifting workforce demands, as well. Sales of SD-WAN solutions rose 45% year-over-year for the third calendar quarter of 2021, according to Dell’Oro. The research firm noted that Cisco’s quarterly SD-WAN revenue nearly doubled in the quarter, with especially strong growth in North America.
The State of the WAN
For years, the literal backbone of enterprise WAN connectivity has been Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS is a routing technique which directs data based on short path labels rather than long network addresses. Those paths labels speed network traffic by identifying virtual links between distant network nodes, eliminating routing delays.
MPLS supports a range of network transport services. And as the acronym implies, it supports multiple networking protocols: Internet Protocol (IP), Asynchronous Transport Mode (ATM) and Frame Relay, for example.
Regardless of protocol, MPLS connections all have one thing in common: They’re dedicated circuits, and require specialized routing hardware at both ends. This complicates provisioning and limits scale. What’s more, traditional WAN topologies typically backhaul all network traffic for security. This creates bottlenecks and complicates network traffic management.
A WAN topology that restricts the flow of network traffic to the cloud is at direct odds with enterprise digitalization strategies. Enterprises depend on more cloud-based services than ever to manage essential business functions. SaaS platforms like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are examples. These platforms provide organizations with agility, flexibility, and scale, but being cloud-native demands a new approach when it comes to practical network management.
SD-WAN modernizes network operations for the cloud
As enterprises and users turn to the cloud, the difference between data center cloud and public cloud can get nebulous. Increasing public cloud-dependence and adjacency introduces complications to network security and compliance. Data sovereignty, compliance and security is top of mind for every IT professional.
Many enterprises leaning into to the cloud are implementing Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) to manage their networks. SD-WAN abstracts the networks’ transport service altogether. It’s a virtual WAN architecture which enables organizations to leverage whatever transport service they need — broadband, MLPS, 4G LTE, 5G.
By separating the network’s control plane altogether, SD-WAN enables businesses to centralize network management, security, and provisioning. SD-WAN replaces dedicated network hardware with Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) in place of physical networking hardware.
VNFs specifically replace devices like network routers and firewalls. VNFs are implemented as Virtual Machines (VMs) which run as software in the IT cloud, operating on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) server hardware. Accompanied by Cloud-native Network Functions (CNFs), they provide IT departments with the ability to scale services instantly to meet demand. As software rather than hardware, VNFs and CNFs can be continuous updated and optimized.
While VNFs are nothing new to enterprise IT, what’s new here in the SD-WAN equation is how SDN itself helps IT operations manage network operations and data security for branch and remote locations. There are some key differences, too.
“SDN advocates a central controller to dictate network behaviors. In contrast, SD-WAN generally manages based on central policy control, but decisions may also be made locally while taking into consideration the corporate policies. Or decisions can be made centrally while incorporating knowledge of local conditions reported by remote network nodes,” said VMware.
SD-WAN in the wild
SD-WAN has emerged as an opportunity for carriers and hyperscalers, Over-the-Top (OTT) service providers, and edge services. In December, Amazon introduced AWS Cloud WAN as a way to replace what it called a “patchwork” of services needed to handle private network control and management. AWS Cloud WAN connects on-prem data centers, branch offices and cloud resources together on AWS’ global backbone, consolidating management through a central dashboard.
Verizon features SD-WAN managed by Cisco as an option for its Network as a Service (NaaS). It comprises Cisco Umbrella security framework, manages zero trust application access and provides managed services through Cisco products including Pluggable Interface Modules and Catalyst Cellular Gateways.
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