Best SD-WAN Vendors for 2020

Providers are scrambling to top each other in the wildly evolving software-defined WAN (wide-area network) space, because so much innovation has emanated from the sector.


It’s difficult to find another sector of the enterprise IT industry that has seen faster growth than software-defined WAN (wide-area network). Analysts with IDC predict the SD-WAN market to grow 40.4 percent a year from 2017 to 2022, when it will reach $4.5 billion. Dell’Oro Group analysts said the growth rate will hit 35 percent a year over five years. Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, has said that the WAN has been a problem for businesses for years, and that SD-WAN technologies hold the promise of alleviating some of the pain.

Network traffic from branch and other remote offices traditionally have run back and forth between the office and central data center over multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), an expensive and inflexible transport mode. However, in an era of greater mobility, cloud services, the proliferation of connected devices and the internet of things (IoT), workloads and data are no longer only going to and from the data center but from myriad other sources.

SD-WAN enables enterprise branch offices to use a range of transport methods—not only MPLS but also broadband internet and 3G and 4G LTE networks—to move data and applications. It also provides more consistent performance, improved security, easier system provisioning and management, and lower costs.

Here’s a look at some of the top SD-WAN vendors in no particular order, with the list being created with data resources from eWEEK, Gartner, IDC, Dell’Oro Group and other sources.

Cisco Systems

San Jose, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: The world’s top networking vendor has a broad router lineup and a range of offerings in the SD-WAN space.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The largest networking vendor in the world by volume and revenue, with the largest share in the SD-WAN market.
  • Offers its own homegrown SD-WAN product with its intelligent WAN (iWAN) lineup, but rapidly broadened its capabilities when its bought SD-WAN pureplay Viptela in 2017 for $610 million. Cisco has since brought Viptela capabilities to a number of products, such as its ISR and ASR edge routers.
  • Cisco’s Meraki unit also is offering SD-WAN support in its MX security appliances for branch offices, which also provide WAN connectivity in addition to security services.

eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

See user reviews of Cisco Systems SD-WAN


Palo Alto, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: The pioneer in data center virtualization has muscled its way into the software-defined network (SDN) market through outside acquisitions and internal innovation.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Has a broad presence in data centers and a wide range of partnerships that run from the data center into the cloud and out to the edge.
  • Became a significant player in the SDN space in 2012 when it bought startup Nicira for $1.26 billion.
  • Expanded its capabilities in SD-WAN with its acquisition of VeloCloud in late 2017. Among the components offered are NSX SD-WAN Gateways and NSX SD-WAN Orchestration software. In addition, the company’s lineup also includes SD-WAN Edge, which can be delivered as either an appliance or a virtual instance.
  • An NSX SD-WAN Gateways and NSX SD-WAN Orchestration software. In addition, the company’s lineup also includes SD-WAN Edge, which can be delivered as either an appliance or a virtual instance.

eWEEK score: 4.7/5.0

See user reviews of VMware VeloCloud

Silver Peak Systems

Santa Clara, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: The company has a legacy in such areas as WAN optimization and has made an aggressive strategic move into the SD-WAN space over the past few years.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The company brings a significant customer base from its WAN optimization days to its SD-WAN business. Silver Peak last year passed the 1,000-customer mark for its Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN platform.
  • The platform can be deployed in remote and branch offices, data centers or the cloud, with separate versions aimed at enterprises and service providers. The physical, virtual and cloud appliances support a broad range of hypervisors.
  • Unity EdgeConnect is available on Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud.
  • Both versions are managed via Silver Peak’s Unity Orchestrator software, and the Unity Boost WAN optimization product enables service providers to offer tiered services.

eWEEK score: 4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Silver Peak Systems Unity EdgeConnect

Riverbed Technology

San Francisco

Value proposition for potential buyers: Riverbed is another vendor moved into SD-WAN on the strength of its other areas of expertise, including WAN optimization, application and network performance monitoring, and WiFi.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The 17-year-old company brings a range of networking expertise and capabilities as well as a customer base that has experience with its networking products.
  • Riverbed took its first steps into SD-WAN in 2015 with the announcement of its “Project Tiger” initiative and rapidly grew its portfolio through the acquisition in 2016 of Ocedo, a German company whose products included gateways, switches, access points and an integrated cloud management system.
  • A year later, Riverbed bought WiFi network specialist Xirrus, whose policy-based orchestration capabilities were added to Riverbed’s SteelConnect platform.
  • The SteelConnect SD-WAN platform enables one-click creation of cloud-based SD-WAN, automated connectivity between cloud vendors, cloud regions, branch offices and the cloud, and a unified management console for the cloud, WAN, LAN and LWAN.

eWEEK score: 4.7/ 5.0

See user reviews of Riverbed Technology SteelConnect

Aryaka Networks

San Mateo, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: 10-year-old Aryaka came into the market with SD-WAN in mind, delivering its technology via a managed services model.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The company continues to grow quickly, with more than 800 enterprise customers in 63 countries and a 98 percent retention rate.
  • Aryaka’s SmartConnect SD-WAN platform is delivered as a service, leveraging cloud providers that include AWS and Microsoft Azure and offer about 50 percent faster performance than MPLS. The vendor’s private global network provides faster transport than MPLS or the internet.
  • SmartConnect offers integrated cloud connectivity, SaaS support, WAN optimization, the SmartCDN content delivery network and mobile application acceleration via its SmartAccess product. Branch office connectivity deployment can range from eight to 48 hours, much faster than the weeks or months needed for MPLS.

eWEEK score: 4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Aryaka Networks SmartConnect

Citrix Systems

Santa Clara, Calif., and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Value proposition for potential buyers: Citrix brings a wealth of experience to enterprises in everything from server and desktop virtualization to networking to the cloud. The company has a presence in more than 400,000 organizations, including 99 percent of the Fortune 100 and 98 percent of the Fortune 500.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Citrix’s SD-WAN offering—formerly called NetScaler—consolidates such network functions as real-time path selection, stateful firewall and WAN optimization into a single appliance for the branch.
  • Appliances are placed in remote sites and central data centers and can run multiple transport modes, from MPLS and mobile to broadband, through a single virtual link.
  • Citrix SD-WAN comes in Standard, Premium and WANOp edition appliances and also is available as a cloud service hosted on AWS and Microsoft Azure.
  • Offers fast failover from one link to another and failover in milliseconds via bi-directional link monitoring and offers edge mode or overlay deployment within the same network.

eWEEK score: 4.7/5.0

See user reviews of Citrix Systems NetScaler

Juniper Networks

Sunnyvale, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: Like Citrix, Juniper has an expanded presence in enterprises through its long history as a networking and security vendor. The company entered the software-defined networking (SDN) space in 2012 with is acquisition of Contrail Systems, and has since expanded the Contrail technology to SD-WAN.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Contrail SD-WAN provides unified policy and security controls across myriad WAN connection types, supporting MPLS, broadband, 4G LTE and others. It also offers dynamic path selection to ensure the right transport mode for the workload.
  • Zero-touch provisioning of Juniper’s CPE (customer premises equipment) means the hardware can be easily deployed on site, with branch devices and cloud endpoints being managed centrally.
  • Contrail Service Orchestration integrates VPNs and third-party virtual-network functions like WAN optimization, next-generation firewalls, wireless LAN controllers and edge computing frameworks. The NFX Series Network Services Platform hosts these services on-premises.

eWEEK score: 4.7/5.0

See user reviews of Juniper Networks Contrail


Redwood Shores, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: Enterprise software giant Oracle jumped into the SD-WAN market in late 2018 when it bought well-known pureplay Talari Networks, a move to complement its session border controller, network management and cloud efforts.

Key values/differentiator:

  • With Talari, Oracle inherited a mature SD-WAN portfolio that includes the Talari Controller to centrally manage and distribute services and application policies, appliances, the Talari Overlay Network for linking the appliances and controller and real-time analytics, visibility into the network and capacity planning.
  • Talari also brought with it Talari Cloud Connect, a platform for service providers to deliver multi-link and multi-path access to cloud services and SaaS.
  • Through Talari SD-WAN, enterprises get an open and extensible WAN for data centers, remote offices and cloud services, with packets routed based on bandwidth suitability for the packets protocol. This capability is embedded in the packet header to ensure that business-critical applications are given higher priority than those that are less business-critical.

eWEEK score: 4.8/5.0

See user reviews of Oracle Talari

Nuage Networks

Mountain View, Calif.

Value proposition for potential buyers: Nuage Networks, launched in 2013, has the backing of parent company Nokia, a global network vendor.

Key values/differentiator:

  • Nuage’s SD-WAN solution is Virtualized Network Services (VNS) and includes the Network Services Gateway, which is x86-based branch hardware. When connected to the network, the NSG calls for a policy engine and downloads a pre-defined configuration based on location.
  • Enterprises can use VNS for visibility and control from a single interface and to orchestrate enterprise IT services in data centers, public clouds and enterprise branch sites.
  • The company in September 2018 released the latest version of VNS that supports what officials are calling SD-WAN 2.0, which moves beyond simply automating and managing connectivity to branch offices to include seamless WAN connectivity to include data centers and SaaS and public cloud providers as well as providing the platform for deploying such value-added services as voice-over-IP, next-generation firewall, WiFi access and IoT.

eWEEK score: 4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Nuage Networks VNS