All eyes are on the performance of the wide area network this year as millions of us work remotely in unexpected circumstances, and look set to continue doing so for the foreseeable. Older WAN technologies have been exposed by the pandemic. They lack the required flexibility, agility and ease of deployment of more contemporary solutions like SD-WAN and SASE.
In this context, developments at the ‘cloud edge’ matter like never before. Hence why there’s a fair bit of excitement around independent analyst firm Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure report, the newest edition of which is on release.
M&A activity and strategic swerves have seen Gartner’s list of the 20 hottest WAN edge vendors whittled down to 17. These remaining players are all refining their take on SD-WAN and the secure edge, building in new features and working to integrate critical areas like security and analytics. Some are now marketing their offer as a managed service.
So how is Gartner defining the WAN edge? The report defines it as ‘WAN edge products that provide network connectivity from distributed enterprise locations to access resources in private and public data centers, as well as infrastructure as a service and software as a service’.
The vendors that make the cut in this latest report are, in order of alphabet rather than merit, Barracuda, Cisco, Citrix, Cradlepoint, FatPipe Networks, Fortinet, HPE (Aruba), Huawei, Juniper Networks, Nuage Networks, Palo Alto Networks (CloudGenix), Peplink, Riverbed, Silver Peak, Teldat, Versa Networks and VMWare. Let’s contemplate the offers of a small subset of these names:
- There’s Cisco which offers two SD-WAN solutions, one powered by Viptela and the other by Meraki. It was a leader in the first WAN Edge Infrastructure report back in 2018, and remains top of the charts with plans to deliver increased security capabilities in an integrated fashion by embracing a SASE architecture.
- Network security leader Fortinet continues to impress with Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, made up of FortiGate hardware and virtual appliances with associated networking and security software managed by an orchestrator.
- Platform security vendor Palo Alto Networks is one of the new names in the quadrant, present by virtue of its acquisition of SD-WAN start-up CloudGenix for $420 million in March of this year. It is considered a SASE front runner.
- Silver Peak was an early pace setter in SD-WAN which explains why Gartner rates it. It has kept up that pace with its strong depth and breadth of optimization features, including WAN optimization, SaaS acceleration and voice optimization. Although not heavy on security, the company does have strong integration with leading security vendors such as Check Point Software Technologies, Fortinet, Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler. Aruba has just acquired the brand, so it won’t be on the next list.
- Acquiring VeloCloud helped VMware to retain its strong showing in the ranking by powering its SD-WAN product to new heights. Gartner noted VMware’s plans to boost its security and analytics features in line with what enterprises are demanding.
On October 14, the press will have a great chance to hear more about developments in the market for WAN edge solutions. A session chaired by Scott Raynovich, Founder and Chief Technology Analyst of Futuriom and featuring an expert panel, will ponder the real-world business and technological implications of SD-WAN, SASE and 5G and discuss how enterprises can actually use a mobile-enabled edge cloud platform.
Here are a few other hot names with a stake in the cloud edge and cloud-native space that are well worth evaluating:
By Guy Matthews, NetReporter Editor