How Netify can compare SD WAN Internet access providers?

Learn how Netify is helping businesses compare Internet connectivity to use with SD WAN vendor solutions.

We all accept that Software-WAN is the here, now and the future of networking for both DIY and managed SD WAN. With features from path selection to WAN optimisation, next generation Firewall security and granular Quality of Service across applications, the reasons are clear. With this said, the majority of IT teams often consider SD WAN architecture, in respect to Internet connectivity, as a secondary aspect outside of the need to save money vs private network connectivity such as MPLS.

SD WAN Internet access

What should you compare when reviewing Internet access for your SD WAN vendor capability?

The following headings represent the key areas to consider when evaluating Internet connectivity for your wide-area network.

Single backbone or multi-backbone access

One of the benefits when moving to an Internet based Software-WAN VPN is the flexibility of the Internet. The option to procure single backbone Internet connections should be applicable to HQ and major branch offices to ensure continuity across traffic performance and ISP SLA agreements. With this said, single backbone architecture is not always possible to achieve, this is no different when comparing SD WAN with technologies such as MPLS. And, this is especially true for Global Enterprise business where every location is not in reach.

In some instances, resellers of vendor and connectivity solutions will opt for using the lowest cost ISP for each site. While the outcome may lower budget, the end result could be detrimental performance in relation to mission critical and real-time applications.

Data Centre & Cloud-based applications access

One of the key reasons why SD WAN is experiencing such high adoption vs MPLS is largely aligned to public Cloud services access (i.e. Cloud IaaS &SaaS applications). With private based Layer 3 MPLS & VPLS requiring back to back cloud access within a data centre environment, the Internet represents complete flexibility. Public cloud-based services offer access to AWS (Amazon Web Services), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and others are available from wherever the user is located.

Latency & Jitter

Application performance is governed by latency and jitter even with the advances in SD WAN real-time traffic treatment. Perhaps the biggest challenge is understanding real world performance as the majority of SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are based on a monthly average between core provider PoP (PE - Provider Edge) gateway locations. Netify is positioned to calculate latency across selected Global PE devices to provide an indication of real world performance.

Uptime, Diversity & Resiliency

In order to achieve no single point of failure, dual circuits must be routed to:

  • Diverse PoP locations
  • Diverse PE devices
  • Diverse local Exchanges
  • Diverse building entry point
  • Dual WAN edge Branch office or HQ CPE (Customer Premise Equipment)

In many cases, uptime designs are created using multiple ISPs in order to achieve low cost uptime solutions. While using dual ISPs may look good on a Visio diagram, the practical usefulness of such a solution is often low due to the commonality across circuit routing, i.e. neither provider will be aware of their counterparts paths.

When architecting your solution capability, you may wish to request complete separation from a single telco/provider or utilise WiFi solutions such as 4G/5G. We are also seeing a resurgence of BGP multi-homed solutions using AS (Autonomous System) IP addressing. When using BGP, the architecture again must be considered to separate circuits.

NOC (Network Operation Centre)

The NOC is typically staffed by qualified engineers with specific expertise across their supported platform. In the WAN environment, IT teams are used to dealing with MPLS NOC teams with expertise across the edge vendor of choice and the elements required to maintain operational MPLS or VPLS WAN circuits. While the NOC associated with Internet services should theoretically operate in exactly the same way, readers must remember that the team are not aware of the site to site VPN status across your WAN. In this sense, the NOC are there to troubleshoot actual connection issues rather than any element of your site to site connectivity, this is a critical difference to be aware of when migrating from MPLS to an Internet based SD WAN VPN solution.

Service Level Guarantees

The SLA should always be viewed as a commercial agreement since the content is often not based on your individual network architecture. As an example, some ISPs are offering 100% uptime across their Internet circuits but the reality is there is no real way to achieve 100% during ongoing service as issues occur which are unforeseen. An SLA can be an indication of overall performance capability so should be carefully considered in this respect.

Who are the best/top Internet service providers for SD WAN?

As an initial help for your research, we’ve included 5 providers that may be of interest to deploy connectivity. 

BT Business

BT Business are positioned to offer connectivity across 197+ global locations with significant coverage across the UK. Products of interest include Ethernet, Private Line, MPLS/VPLS, 4G/5G, FTTC & FTTP Broadband Internet access. SIP services are available via the BT Cloud Voice hosed IP telephony product.

The BTNet Ethernet leased line product is also provided with a Cisco Meraki edge device.

Century Link

Century Link are a tier 1 carrier with the ability to provide DIA, MPLS, Point to Point/Private Line, Symmetrical Broadband (Fios) and VPLS. Recent acquisitions include Level3 Communications, ElasticBox and Active Broadband Networks. Century Link state 15% of their business activities are international with 40+ NOCs and numerous PoP (PE locations). International areas of strength span APAC, EMA and LATAM.

GTT

Formed relatively recently in 1998, GTT are a tier 1 carrier offering connectivity via key acquisitions including Access Point, Interoute (Easynet and MDNX), Transbeam, Global Capacity and Hibernia. GTT NOCs are positioned on multiple continents, 600+ PoP locations with services sold into 140+ countries. Connectivity products include Wavelength, Ethernet over Copper and DIA.

Masergy

Another tier 1 example with 5G, Broadband, DIA, Fixed Wireless, LTE, Satellite and symmetrical Broadband. The Masergy value proposition was simply about the core network which offered customers low latency MPLS on a global basis. Today, their proposition is much more with value added next-generation firewall security & cloud services leading their product portfolio. Masergy are also noted for their 70+ NPS (Net Promotor Score) over the last 4+ years including 99% customer retention.

Expereo

Expereo are a tier 3 carrier with connectivity options including 5G, Broadband, DIA, Wireless, Satellite and Symmetrical Broadband. With the capability to service 200+ countries with 3000+ last mile access for Internet. Expereo are noted for their ability to provide single billing with in-country currency. 60% of their business in International with reach into Dubai and Singapore.