How to Evaluate SD-WAN Providers – Key Factors to Consider

With so many vendors marketing SD-WAN solutions, it can be difficult to determine which resolution will best meet a company’s networking needs. This blog will help break down the criteria when evaluating and selecting an SD-WAN provider.

Look for an SD-WAN vendor with public internet gateways and WAN optimization techniques that align with your organization’s distribution of cloud resources. This will enable them to offer a fast, reliable connection to your cloud assets.


The best-managed SD-WAN providers, including Versa Networks, deliver accessible, cost-effective, and easy-to-use solutions. However, evaluating SD-WAN offerings based solely on price is a flawed strategy.

Some SD-WAN vendors require a large upfront investment in physical and human resources. This increases associated overhead and negates the intended cost savings that SD-WAN usually delivers.

Others offer subscription, cloud-based services that spread deployment costs. These models also reduce initial deployment time and allow IT teams to get up and running faster.

Depending on your specific needs, you may want an SD-WAN provider with a private or public network of POPs (point of presence). You can often save money by purchasing managed SD-WAN from a telecom communications partner who already offers the solution and can bundle it with other services like direct connectivity into major public cloud providers. However, you should ask the provider if they’ve recently undergone any corporate changes that could impact the service/pricing you receive.


Many organizations look to evaluate technology options based on features, but this is a flawed approach. Instead, focus on the factors that drive ROI, like accessibility, cost, and ease of use. For example, if you choose to work with an SD-WAN managed services vendor, they can offer you value by bundling telecommunications, delivering superior deployment architecture, direct cloud connectivity, and exceptional quality of service (quality of service) at attractive prices.

Evaluate how your managed SD-WAN provider operates their middle-mile network. Suppose they manage their points of presence and peering relationships. In that case, their solution will be more capable of path selection optimization for your business because they connect directly to the locations of your most critical applications/clouds.

Also, choose a provider who fosters responsible business practices and offers a dedicated account rep for support. This ensures you’ll get a quick response and expert guidance from someone who truly cares about your success.


Review how the solution protects against cyber threats when selecting a managed SD-WAN provider. Look for options like multiple tunnel encryption ciphers, built-in traffic authentication and packet-level link balancing. It’s also important to consider if the device supports secure local internet breakouts.

Fortinet suggests enterprises should seek providers offering integrated security solutions for SD-WAN. Zero trust network access (ZTNA), secure web gateways (SWG) and cloud access security brokers are all services that help keep data safe.

Evaluating the features of a solution can be helpful. Still, it’s essential to look beyond the surface level and consider other factors that impact ROI and long-term satisfaction with an SD-WAN. Read the GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports to find out what to look for in an ideal solution.


SD-WANs with robust security features are essential for ensuring the reliability and availability of business applications. Unfortunately, many vendors make security a marketing buzzword, and their solutions fail to protect enterprise networks from cybersecurity threats.

Look for managed SD-WAN providers offering an advanced dashboard that continuously monitors circuit and tunnel metrics, historical reporting, and status updates. The best solutions will also reduce the need for IT staff to be onsite at remote locations, improving efficiency and enabling more effective remote working.

Lastly, check for a middle-mile network to see if an SD-WAN service provider can deliver traffic conditioning/routing optimization on the public Internet and a high level of carrier redundancy. You can use websites like PeeringDB to check for the peering relationships of managed SD-WAN services (Cato Networks is an example). If your SD-WAN solution does not have a middle-mile network, it can only route traffic via one path, which could result in application outages during network outages.


As you evaluate managed SD-WAN providers, look beyond feature sets to consider the factors that impact your long-term satisfaction with the solution and total cost of ownership. Find out if they offer features that support your cost goals, such as application-aware routing that optimizes paths based on the performance needs of specific applications.

A good way to assess scaleability is to see if an SD-WAN provider has a middle-mile network with points of presence (POPs), direct connections to major cloud vendors, and peering relationships into the public Internet. This helps ensure the provider can provide reliable connectivity, particularly during outages and when traffic is routed over the public Internet. A good place to check for this is PeeringDB, or ask the vendor about their peering arrangements. In addition, an SD-WAN that provides centralized management and orchestration can reduce the need for on-premises IT resources and provide the ability to scale as business needs change.

Customer Support

The exploding SD-WAN market has created countless new solutions, including many that offer managed services. But how do you know which is right for your business? A features-based checklist will reveal the most promising options but won’t tell you if they fit your network needs.

A mature, enterprise-grade support model will back a good SD-WAN solution. It should include follow-the-sun support with global spare depots and an automated RMA process. This ensures your organization can get the necessary help promptly in case of any hardware failure.

Also, look for an SD-WAN solution that offers rich reporting on layer 7 WAN utilization and ISP and SaaS performance metrics. This will give you insight into how to optimize application performance, as well as what’s driving underlying traffic. A provider with this type of WAN optimization capability and bulletproof failover will provide you with the highest value for your investment.