Are all Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions alike? With over 40 vendors in this space, I’d say that it’s likely not. Talking with The PacketPushers’ Greg Ferro on Twitter, he believes that many of these vendors will survive. While the space is fragmented, Ferro believes there’s room enough and market opportunity for most of the existing players to make a going concern of the SD-WAN business. It’s the question, of what makes one SD-WAN vendor different from another that I approach the follow-up to the TELoIP presentation at Network Field Day 15 (NFD15).
Network as a Service
In a flashback to about 3-years ago, I wrote something about Network as a Service (NaaS). At the time, a bunch of managed VPN vendors was cropping up. The en vogue term for the managed VPN was NaaS. NaaS might be one of my least favorite aaS’. At least in the form marketed back 3-years ago. NaaS meant something different to me.
To me, NaaS was the ability to drop a high-speed circuit at the last mile. The service provider would then allow the customer to build an overlay atop of the circuit. How does my vision of NaaS differ from MPLS? In my vision, the customer could provision and de-provision services from their control plane. The only limitation was the size of the last-mile connections.
If a customer had a 1Gbps physical port, they could provision an end-to-end layer-2 connection between two sites. Or the customer could provision two layer-2 500Mpbs connections with guaranteed class and rates of service. That was at least my vision. I questioned if there was a market for the type of service and a willingness for a provider to build out such a service.
TELoIP is an intriguing 13-year old company. The company markets themselves as a SD-WAN provider. I guess that’s accurate given the hype around SD-WAN and the given solution. However, if I were to place a label of TELoIP, I’d call them a NaaS provider. TeloIP comes the closest I’ve seen to providing the type of service I envisioned. The difference is the perspective of who’s the customer. In the TELoIP solution, an MSP is the customer. The MSP handles the last mile provisioning of the connection.
The last mile options include many types of access services. The MSP manages the connection back to the TeloIP backbone. The MSP hands off an Ethernet connection to the TeloIP provided edge device. The edge device participants in the TELoIP control plane. TELoIP provides the MSP with a high amount of control over the resulting topology.
I’m an enterprise guy and not a direct target of TELoIP. It’s the MSP that I’d look to integrate my operations. Years ago, I used a managed DSL provider to provide a private DSL-based WAN. I could see that same provider using a service such as TeloIP. TeloIP handles the backbone connectivity. The managed DSL provider would provide a control panel to allow my SDN controller integrate directly. I could also see a more traditional SD-WAN provider integrating with TELoIP to optimize for performance beyond selecting the link. The SD-WAN solution could dynamically provision routing with the TeloIP backbone to optimize for the application traffic patterns.
TELoIP exposed some interesting capability to ask managed or virtual ISP about when evaluating solutions for enterprise networks.
Disclaimer: Gelstalt IT, organizers of Network Field Day provides travel and expenses for me to attend Network Field Day. I do not receive cash compensation as a delegate. I also don't receive compensation for writing or promoting Network Field Day.