What is a SD-WAN Company?
SD-WAN Companies: An Overview
A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a virtual networking architecture that enables organizations to leverage various transport services – including MPLS, LTE, broadband, cable and fiber – to securely connect branch locations and remote users to IT resources and cloud applications.
SD-WANs use software-defined networking principles to create a virtual overlay across the network, enabling administrators to manage connectivity with software rather than physical routers and switches. SD-WAN products monitor the performance of all WAN connections and automatically route traffic via the optimal path to ensure faster connections and to give business-critical, bandwidth-hungry applications higher priority.
SD-WAN companies provide various technologies for implementing SD-WAN on-premises, in the cloud, as managed services or as SaaS-based offerings. Some SD-WAN providers offer very narrow or specific capabilities, while others provide comprehensive solutions that integrate SD-WAN with security technologies to support a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) approach to network security.
What SD-WAN Companies Provide
Offerings from SD-WAN companies typically include:
- Physical or virtual SD-WAN appliances for orchestrating traffic, enforcing policy and managing the network
- National or global connectivity
- Integration with security and data loss prevention technologies
- Support for IoT devices and networks
- Capabilities that support disaster recovery, complex routing and BYOD
- Integration with cloud-based platforms like Office 365 and Microsoft Azure
- Service level agreements that guarantee a specific level of network performance, uptime and support services
Superior SD-WAN also offer:
- Application-aware routing that ensures each application receives the bandwidth, connectivity and security required to deliver exceptional performance and high-quality user experiences
- Zero-touch provisioning that allows administrators to configure and update technology without intervention from technicians
- Centralized management that simplifies the tasks of configuring and applying policies across the organization
- Automated link failover to improve resiliency
- Segmentation tools that protect the network and high-value assets from cyber attacks relying on lateral movement
- WAN optimization that automatically balances loads and routes traffic around bottlenecks, outages and performance issues
Importance of Choosing the Right SD-WAN Company
There are many different types of SD-WAN companies offering a broad range of technologies and services. Choosing the right company is critical to ensuring an SD-WAN implementation that meets the organization’s needs and budget constraints.
Superior SD-WAN companies should offer:
- Integrated security solutions. To deliver exceptional security, SD-WAN companies should offer an integrated Next-generation Firewall (NGFW), eliminating the need for standalone security solutions.
- Self-healing capabilities. Features like dynamic path selection with sub-second failover and WAN remediation capabilities help deliver superior application performance and high availability.
- Multiple connectivity options. An SD-WAN solution incorporates various underlying network services, from MPLS to broadband and LTE. The more transport options available, the more flexibility and redundancy the network will have.
- Global reach. Companies with a multinational footprint will want to ensure their SD-WAN company provides a global reach via its own resources or in partnership with other carriers.
- Rapid installation. The ability to quickly add capacity with zero-touch provisioning is critical to ensuring agility and flexibility.
- Single-vendor SASE. The best SD-WAN companies combine SD-WAN services with the core technologies for a SASE approach to security. These include Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs), Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA).
Selection Criteria for Choosing an SD-WAN Solution
When choosing offerings from an SD-WAN company, IT teams can evaluate SD-WAN providers on several key criteria.
- Performance. The most effective SD-WAN companies will offer solutions that improve the performance of critical business applications through application-aware routing, clustering different types of links together and providing extensive Quality of Service (QoS) controls.
- Visibility. An SD-WAN solution must deliver visibility into every aspect of the network including servers, applications and user activity. Comprehensive visibility is essential to managing and securing hybrid environments that may be distributed over hundreds or thousands of sites.
- Security. Superior SD-WAN companies offer built-in SD-WAN security features such as unified threat management, advanced malware detection, intrusion prevention systems and a next-generation firewall.
- Central control. A central administrative console enables network administrators to manage traffic, configure policies, make adjustments and orchestrate services more easily.
- Bandwidth. SD-WAN companies should help assess both current and potential bandwidth needs to ensure that the initial SD-WAN deployment will accommodate future growth.
- Architecture. As IT environments continue to evolve, choosing an SD-WAN company that offers solutions both on-premises and in the cloud can help ensure value today and tomorrow.
- Expense. SD-WAN costs vary widely between vendors. Superior offerings help organizations reduce costs by enabling expensive MPLS lines to be augmented with a wide range of commodity internet links and by replacing multiple point products with a single solution that reduces the time and resources required to manage SD-WAN.
Forcepoint: A Leader Among SD-WAN Companies
Forcepoint offers market-leading solutions built to protect the modern enterprise. Forcepoint’s network security products combine the latest in SD-WAN with one of the industry’s top-rated next-generation firewall security, all managed from a single policy-based console.
Forcepoint FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN improves application performance with MultiLink™ connectivity and reduces risk with built-in advance security functionality, delivered through a data-first SASE architecture. Forcepoint’s SD-WAN solution enables organizations and their IT teams to:
- Deploy quickly. Zero-touch deployment helps save time and money by deploying SD-WAN to remote offices and branch locations without on-site technicians.
- Update easily. Forcepoint’s Smart Policies express business processes in familiar terms, while easy grouping replaces hardcoded values and enables policies to be dynamically reused throughout the network.
- Accelerate response. Forcepoint makes it easy to visualize and analyze what’s happening throughout the network. Network admins can drill down into data to quickly investigate patterns and anomalies and take immediate action.
- Connect cost-effectively. Forcepoint’s SD-WAN solution enables the use of multiple low-cost, high-speed broadband connections from local ISPs, ensuring efficient and secure access to cloud-based SaaS apps and enterprise systems.
- Increase capacity. Forcepoint uses multiple connections at each site to boost bandwidth quickly and affordably, combining links together and intelligently routing traffic across them while automatically handling interruptions.
- Simplify management. Administrators can connect and protect more than 1000 locations from a single console, using powerful policy-based administration to describe business processes once and automatically apply policy wherever needed.
- Secure all locations. Forcepoint NGFW delivers anti-evasion intrusion prevention that’s tightly integrated and managed from a single console to eliminate the gaps often found with add-on security systems in connectivity-only SD-WAN solutions.