Key Criteria for Evaluating SD-WAN Platformsv2.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. SD-WAN Platforms Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Analyst’s Take

1. Summary

The software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) is the latest “next generation” way to connect disparate locations in a private network. It is one of our industry’s most successful forays into the software-defined world. SD-WAN decouples the control/management plane from the network hardware, and simplifies global set-up, configuration, and ongoing management.

Organizations with more than one location have always needed some form of wide-area network (WAN). And now enterprises of all sizes and shapes are becoming more and more distributed. At the same time, various forms of cloud services have become more widely adopted. This public cloud adoption often makes traditional solutions for corporate WANs, like managed, private multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) networks, sub-optimal or even obsolete. More recently, the Covid pandemic and associated social distancing have accelerated the adoption of different network access technologies, including SD-WAN, in smaller home office and home education scenarios.

In addition to these fundamental shifts in the demands on WANs, the modern enterprise is more acutely aware of the need for security. It is more dependent than ever on pervasive connectivity and good network performance. This combination of trends has left IT managers scrambling for a secure method of reliably connecting their users, their data, and their applications. SD-WAN emerged to fill this growing need.

SD-WAN brings key tenets of software-defined networking (SDN) into the enterprise WAN, notably:

  • Centralized control can be more efficient than distributed routing in certain scenarios.
  • Centralized management can make it much easier to operate a large network than traditional box-by-box management.

We can say that SD-WAN is a concept, not a technology, because there is no single underlying protocol that defines an SD-WAN. Rather, it is an operating model enabled by various vendors’ products in different ways.

While the SD-WAN market is not yet fully mature, many enterprises have chosen to test or deploy SD-WAN solutions already. The primary drivers include hoped-for improvements in network performance, reliability, monitoring capabilities, and security, as well as cost reduction benefits.

When planning for SD-WAN deployment, multiple factors need to be considered, many of which are directly related to the specific SD-WAN product you choose. Others, such as which types of circuits to use for the physical connectivity and whether a do-it-yourself (DIY) or a managed approach to deployment and operation is more appropriate, are typically independent of the SD-WAN technology provider you select.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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