What is a SD-WAN Vendor?
SD-WAN Vendors Defined
A Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) is a networking architecture that enables organizations to centrally manage and orchestrate network traffic using software-defined networking principles. An SD-WAN creates a virtual overlay across traditional network infrastructure and incorporates multiple, diverse and inexpensive connections to improve performance and reduce the cost of networking. SD-WAN solutions enable direct-to-cloud connections to improve user experiences with cloud services and SaaS apps. SD-WANs also automate routing to send traffic along the fastest path and ensure that business-critical and bandwidth-hungry applications receive priority.
SD-WAN vendors offer an array of solutions that organizations and IT teams can use to implement SD-WAN systems. Solutions from SD-WAN vendors include physical and virtual appliances that may be installed on-premises or in the cloud, as well as managed services and SD-WAN “as a service” offerings that allow IT teams to outsource certain aspects of deploying, managing and monitoring SD-WAN technology.
How SD-WAN Works
Traditional Wide Area Networks (WANs) are built on a hub-and-spoke model using Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), a reliable but slow and expensive way to connect branches and remote employees. To ensure security, all traffic is backhauled through a central data center for inspection. As organizations and workforces become more distributed, legacy WAN technology has become too expensive and can’t deliver the speed and flexibility organizations need.
SD-WAN improves connectivity by enabling individual branches and remote employees to connect directly to the internet using low-cost transport services like broadband, cable, fiber and LTE. A virtual overlay of the network abstracts the details of these connections and automatically optimizes routing to enhance performance, ease the burden on legacy infrastructure and increase resilience with automatic failover and routing around network bottlenecks and outages.
SD-WAN vendors offer the technology that powers an SD-WAN service or solution. This may include a mix of physical or virtual SD-WAN appliances, SD-WAN managed services or SaaS offerings, SD-WAN firewalls and services that support disaster recovery, complex routing, IoT networks and integration with other security technologies.
Types of SD-WAN Vendors
Solutions from SD-WAN providers typically fall into one of three categories.
- SD-WAN products. Some SD-WAN vendors offer physical and virtual appliances that may be installed on-premises or in the cloud. IT teams are responsible for deploying the hardware, software, network and transport services as well as the tasks of monitoring, managing and securing the SD-WAN.
- Managed SD-WAN. With managed SD-WAN services, a third-party service provider is responsible for all aspects of deploying the SD-WAN solution and monitoring and upgrading it to ensure that it meets specific service level agreements for performance and uptime.
- SD-WAN as a service. This option provides access to SD-WAN technology via a SaaS application. A service provider is responsible for managing the hardware, software and transport services, providing access to IT teams through a SaaS delivery model via a web browser. Internal IT teams are responsible for monitoring, managing and securing the system.
What to Look for in a Secure SD-WAN
Security is a major consideration when choosing an SD-WAN vendor, and there is great variety in the quality of services and solutions available. Choosing an SD-WAN vendor with solutions that meet these four criteria will help IT teams ensure their organizations get a superior secure SD-WAN system.
Integrated security architecture
Many SD-WAN vendors expect customers to provision and integrate their own security architecture, but this task is often the most difficult part of deploying SD-WAN technology. A superior SD-WAN vendor will provide built-in security features like a Next-generation Firewall (NGFW), an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) and Advanced Malware Detection (AMD). The right solution will also work seamlessly with a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Secure Web Gateway (SWG) and Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) technology to support a SASE approach to security.
Real-time access control and network scanning
A secure SD-WAN solution will ensure that each branch location has the same level of security as the primary internet gateway, enabling direct-to-cloud connectivity. This should include access control and intrusion prevention at each site, along with real-time scanning to defend against advanced threats.
Protection of cloud service data
Since direct-to-cloud activity is one of the most common factors in data breaches, secure SD-WAN services must provide IT teams with control over how data is stored and shared in cloud services. Superior solutions will safeguard access to cloud apps and enforce data protection policies.
Monitoring of unauthorized cloud services
The growth of cloud services makes it easy for employees to turn to cloud-based apps to increase productivity, solve business problems or create workarounds. When these apps are not sanctioned by IT, the business has no control over the data stored or shared on these platforms. A secure SD-WAN should provide visibility into all network and cloud activity, allowing administrators to track unauthorized use of cloud services and drive more value from existing investments.
Forcepoint: A Leading SD-WAN Vendor
Forcepoint is recognized as a leader in cybersecurity by Forrester, Gartner, NSS Labs and others. As an SD-WAN vendor, Forcepoint offers a secure and flexible solution in FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN. This Forcepoint solution integrates direct-to-cloud connectivity with industry-leading network security and threat protection to meet the demands of modern enterprises.
Forcepoint FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN leverages Forcepoint Multi-Link™ technology to create resilient networks with multiple redundancies and automated failover systems that ensure businesses remain online. With Forcepoint’s SD-WAN, organizations can:
- Reduce network costs by augmenting expensive MPLS lines with commodity internet links like cable, fiber, DSL and Virtual Private Network (VPN) software.
- Create faster, more resilient architecture with technology that ensures continuity, even during unexpected outages and downtime.
- Harden network security with greater visibility and control, faster response times and a zero-knowledge distributed architecture that automatically creates and terminates connections on demand to shrink the attack surface and reduce costs.
- Scale with ease by activating branches, offices and remote sites from the cloud.
- Optimize application usage while reducing latency and jitter by ensuring that mission-critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth.
- Adopt a SASE framework by pairing Flex Edge Secure SD-WAN with Forcepoint ONE, a cloud-native security platform.