How to Evaluate SD-WAN Providers

With so many SD-WAN vendors, it can take time to sift through the noise and find a solution that works for your organization.

A reliable managed service provider should offer a robust SD-WAN solution and other integrated technology solutions like firewalls, private cloud on-ramp access, and an extensive Tier-1 broadband Internet network backbone.


When evaluating managed SD-WAN providers, look beyond their feature set and pricing. Evaluate how well their solutions align with your organizational business goals. A good provider can help you with the technical migration and offer a clear strategy for ongoing network optimization.

Whether replacing existing MPLS circuits or augmenting them with broadband Internet connections, SD-WAN helps businesses save money by prioritizing traffic and avoiding the waste of bandwidth on low-priority applications.

In addition, you can use SD-WAN to connect to cloud services such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services via a single-stack solution that also provides security and traffic steering.

Some SD-WAN vendors, including Versa Networks, have private gateway networks to deliver a middle-mile service. This approach is preferable if their POP locations match your organization’s distribution of cloud resources. Others rely on a network of public gateways, which may make sense if you have multiple locations with a shared internet connection or want to save the cost of deploying and maintaining dedicated MPLS circuits. They can offer application optimization, traffic steering and other capabilities, delivering better performance on less expensive broadband Internet connections.


The best SD-WAN providers have a robust network that supports the growing bandwidth requirements of today’s cloud applications. Their service model can provide a more reliable and cost-effective solution than traditional networking technologies that rely on backhauling traffic to a central location in the data center.

Look for an SD-WAN provider with a high peering presence in major Internet Exchange Points (IXPs). This indicates that they have established optimized pathways over the public Internet and can route information faster than other services that backhaul traffic to a central site.

In addition, a high peering presence can also reduce latency and improve the performance of SaaS applications.

Look for an SD-WAN provider with scalable solutions that allow you to simplify branch WAN edge architecture by replacing multiple hardware appliances such as firewalls, routers and WAN optimization devices with a single, unified platform.

This centralized software-driven approach simplifies network management and allows for a more rapid response to changing business needs. In addition, it can significantly lower TCO by eliminating the need for hardware encoding or infrastructural changes.


A well-designed SD-WAN can improve WAN security in several ways, both by replacing legacy routers and firewalls at the branch network edge and prioritizing business-critical traffic over non-critical or internet-only applications. Look for managed SD-WAN integration and services offering networking and security capabilities in a single platform.

Evaluate whether the solution encrypts data in motion, especially when connecting to cloud services. In addition, if the SD-WAN solution uses its public gateways, ensure that their POP locations align with your organization’s location of cloud resources.

A good SD-WAN also provides features that protect the offering itself, like secure tunneling or packet striping. This will help mitigate the risk of a successful DDoS attack. Finally, ensure the SD-WAN offers robust SIEM integration to feed operational information into a comprehensive threat intelligence ecosystem for better coordination of protection against cyberattacks. Nemertes’ research has shown that tighter security ecosystems are more effective in defending against threats.


Choosing a vendor that can help you quickly and easily get started with an SD-WAN is important. Look for a managed service offering that includes deployment and ongoing management of the solution. This can save time and effort for IT teams and deliver better performance for business applications.

A good SD-WAN provider should provide a variety of ways to reduce costs and improve performance. This may include network load balancing, WAN optimization, and security features. Also, look for a vendor that provides options like application identification systems, packet-based steering and duplication to enable better performance for high-priority applications.

It’s also helpful to consider how the SD-WAN solution connects to the cloud. Some answers are tightly integrated with major cloud vendors and optimize private paths for traffic. Others use technology to make path selection decisions based on the locations of your cloud resources. This can be a more cost-effective choice for organizations with multiple regional offices that share a hub data center.


When it comes to a managed SD-WAN service provider, their ability to provide rich end-to-end visibility and analytics across the entire network is important. This helps IT teams troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly and provides the insight to plan for future growth.

The ability to integrate with best-of-breed security technologies is another key management consideration. This includes integrations with cloud-delivered security services, WAN optimization vendors and universal CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) vendors.

A robust peering infrastructure is also important to consider. This can be evaluated through an open source database like PeeringDB or by directly checking with the managed SD-WAN provider (Cato Networks, for example, lists their public peering relationships on their website).

When evaluating managed SD-WAN service providers, looking at their entire portfolio of solutions and features is crucial to ensure they can meet your current and future networking needs. By asking the right questions and evaluating the six core factors above, you can help separate the noise from the vendors who are a good fit for your organization.