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Report: SD-WAN Evolves from DIY to Businesswide Fabric from Partners

Analyst firm Forrester Research is out with a new report on the software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) movement, which it says has evolved from an early do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to one that enlists industry service providers as partners for businesswide fabric implementations.

That takeaway comes from The Forrester Wave: Software-Defined WAN Services, Q4 2020, which compares and contrasts 10 leading SD-WAN service providers.

While the report names Vodafone and Orange Business Services as "Leaders" among those 10 vendors, it also sheds light on how Forrester believes the SD-WAN market has changed.

The Forrester Wave: Software-Defined WAN Services, Q4 2020
[Click on image for larger view.] The Forrester Wave: Software-Defined WAN Services, Q4 2020 (source: Forrester).

"Over the past year, the SD-WAN pendulum has swung away from a DIY approach to one that leverages partners; I&O [infrastructure and operations] teams weren't ready to tackle the new security models needed to support a businesswide WAN fabric, nor did they have the resources to deploy and optimize SD-WAN hardware and software," Forrester said. "This doesn't mean that every organization needs a partner to manage every aspect of a WAN fabric. Your needs can vary widely -- the degree of management will depend on the size of your company and your business type.

"The good news is that a rich pool of services providers in the SD-WAN market includes companies that focus just on deploying SD-WAN hardware and software solutions to others for implementing and running a fully managed SD-WAN service. Much of the WAN services market is commoditized, with little differentiation across the market's traditional services, such as transport and connectivity. This is the case with SD-WAN services. Services providers have significant and important differentiators that customers should evaluate based on individual context, product fit, and geographic scope."

With that context in mind, Forrester analyzed the 10 vendors with criteria such as whether or not they offered:

  • Last-mile connectivity options and SD-WAN platforms
  • A level of integration and depth of management, monitoring, and troubleshooting
  • The ability to support Forrester's Zero Trust model

Based on those and other criteria, Forrester said of the top two "Leaders" that "Vodafone stands out with its unified customer portal across multiple platforms" and that "Orange Business Services provides a wide global reach with a rich set of services."

Beyond the two "Leaders," Tata Communications, Colt Technology Services, Lumen (CenturyLink), Aryaka Networks, Verizon Business, and AT&T Business were named Strong Performers. Masergy and GTT Communications are Contenders. Nobody was in the bottom "Challengers" part of the wave.

The report, which Forrester cautioned should just be used as a starting point for organizations researching the best SD-WAN services fit for their particular circumstances, is available in a licensed-for-distribution PDF from several featured vendors upon providing registration information.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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