As the SD-WAN market matures, more enterprises are looking to service providers for managed or co-managed SD-WAN services. In the era of SD-WAN 2.0, enterprise customers are also requesting specific flavors of SD-WAN and, in response, service providers are increasingly partnering with multiple SD-WAN suppliers to expand the options available to customers.
Features such as security, multi-cloud connectivity, network and application visibility, traffic management and remote access technologies are features front-of-mind for enterprises seeking an SD-WAN service. As a result, operators must continually innovate their SD-WAN services to simplify IT operations for their business customers.
This year, five companies have been shortlisted for "Most Innovative SD-WAN Service." The award goes to the company that has launched the most innovative SD-WAN service for enterprise and/or small or midsized corporate users during the past year.
The five companies in the running are:
The Leading Lights winners, and the identities of this year's Light Reading Hall of Fame inductees, will be announced online, on August 21, during a special video presentation on www.lightreading.com, one month before the start of the Big 5G Event.
Here's a closer look at the companies shortlisted in Most Innovative SD-WAN Service:
Colt Technology Services – Global Colt SD-WAN with Universal CPE
Colt expanded its SD-WAN service last year with the launch of its universal customer premises equipment (uCPE), which hosts Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) including SD-WAN and firewalls, as well as network functions for analytics and WAN optimization. Colt's SD-WAN service also connects customers to cloud applications; provides a self-service customer portal; and security features such as a firewall, intrusion detection and protection systems (IDS/IPS), and DDoS and anti-virus protection.
In June, Colt announced multi-cloud access for its SD-WAN service, providing customers with a single connection to multiple cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Comcast Business – ActiveCore SDN with SD-WAN
Comcast Business was among the first movers in the cable industry to launch a SD-WAN service – the cableco's ActiveCore software-defined networking platform touts orchestration capabilities and supports multiple VNFs.
Most recently, Comcast Business boosted its SD-WAN security features by partnering with Fortinet to integrate Fortinet's FortiGate-VM Next-Generation Firewall Virtual Appliance and Fortinet Security Fabric with ActiveCore, addressing security threats such as malware. In addition, Comcast Business has updated the look of its customer dashboard to make navigation more intuitive, and has added business intelligence and analytics, providing IT with action items to improve network performance. Comcast Business is also among a handful of service providers to achieve MEF 3.0 SD-WAN service certification.
Masergy – Masergy Managed SD-WAN
Masergy has honed in on expanding security features within its managed SD-WAN service with the addition of Masergy Shadow IT Discovery, Masergy AIOps and Identity-based WAN Analytics. Shadow IT Discovery identifies risk levels of cloud applications that employees have accessed without IT's approval and assists IT teams in resolving the issue.
Identity-Based WAN Analytics delivers per-user analytics as a standard offering for SD-WAN customers in the Masergy SD-WAN management portal. This service provides IT teams with the tools to more quickly identify user activity and remediate risks from shadow IT, which occurs when employees utilize cloud-based SaaS without approval from corporate IT. Masergy AIOps is a "virtual engineer" integrated in the customer portal, that provides analytics and recommendations to improve network performance.
Verizon – Verizon SD-WAN Co-management Service
As the SD-WAN market matures, more enterprises are requesting a co-managed approach where they can rely on a service provider for initial SD-WAN deployment and ongoing support, but also take an active role in monitoring the service as well as making their own changes to it. Launched last fall, Verizon's Co-Management SD-WAN Service provides customers with control over SD-WAN policies and the ability to make real-time service changes.
Verizon says the Co-Management Service runs on an Intent Based Network management platform to simplify and speed up the execution of policy changes. To account for human error, customers can revert to a previous version of their SD-WAN policies if the need arises.
CenturyLink – CenturyLink SD-WAN Solutions
Since 2018, CenturyLink has expanded availability of its SD-WAN services from 37 countries to now over 100. In addition, CenturyLink provides multiple types of SD-WAN services from Versa, Cisco Viptela and Cisco Meraki to address the differing needs of small businesses and large enterprises. Customers can run SD-WAN services on a dedicated CPE or on a uCPE; or via a virtual machine in the cloud.
In January, CenturyLink won a $1.6 billion deal to modernize the US Department of the Interior (DOI)'s network, provide security and SD-WAN, multi-cloud connectivity, and other networking services. The DOI's infrastructure covers 65,000 employees, 280,000 volunteers and 2,400 operating locations.
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading