Why Legacy Networking Providers Can’t Offer Next-Gen SD-WAN

Gartner® states, “By 2025, to deliver flexible, cost-effective, scalable bandwidth, 40% of enterprise locations will have only internet WAN connectivity, compared with 15% in 2021“. With more and more applications moving to the cloud, organizations realize their existing legacy architecture poses significant complexities and security challenges for their digital transformation initiatives. They are replacing their expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) with more affordable broadband bandwidth to decentralize their data center-based architecture and accelerate their cloud journey.

Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) has since become the de-facto solution for businesses of all sizes, verticals, and geographies due to its wide range of capabilities. SD-WAN offers organizations the benefits of application-aware traffic intelligence, support for carrier-independent multiple WAN links, centralized management, and performance optimization. SD-WAN solutions have become synonymous with simplification that can replace traditional branch routers to reduce costs and complexity.

Navigating Through a Crowded Market

The truth is that the SD-WAN market is now crowded with over 70 vendors and counting! With more vendors rising from adjacent markets like routing, WAN optimization, and security, offering SD-WAN, it has become increasingly difficult for customers to choose a solution that fits their needs and addresses unique use cases. Overwhelmed by these choices, they often end up adopting an SD-WAN solution that their current networking vendors offer in the hopes of migrating seamlessly with minimal downtime. It sounds like a safe bet to continue with a vendor who has been in existence for more than two decades out of customer loyalty or simply the familiarity with the usage of their products. In addition, the incentives and attractive discounts these vendors provide are highly tempting.

At Palo Alto Networks, we often meet customers across all verticals who have gone down this path only to realize they are adding multiple-point products to support SD-WAN and security. During their deployment, it becomes evident that the SD-WAN solution they chose from the legacy vendor is just bolted on top of the traditional networking stack. This means that the solution recycles most of the complex legacy features while lacking key capabilities like security, performance optimization, third-party integrations, and cloud connectivity. Instead of resolving issues, vendors offer another SD-WAN solution that could fix these problems. In reality, the solution that is supposed to be cost-effective, easy to migrate, and quick to troubleshoot just made their branch infrastructure more complex, expensive and challenging difficult to deploy.

Convergence of Security and Networking is Key

According to Gartner, “By 2024, more than 70% of software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) customers will have implemented a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture, compared with 40% in 2021”. Three fundamental shifts drive the need for enterprise network transformation: hybrid work, cloud, digital transformation, and branch transformation. Customers who leverage the public internet to support these strategies need a combined networking and security solution that helps minimize their infrastructure sprawl while securing their applications, users, and devices from anywhere. This has led to both their NOC and SOC teams jointly making decisions regarding a solution that provides such convergence with secure access service edge. These trends are fueling the demand for WAN transformation from legacy MPLS to SD-WAN and SASE.

Prisma SASE is What’s Next for your Digital Transformation

Palo Alto Networks is once again positioned as a Leader for its ability to execute and completeness of vision in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure report. This couldn’t have come at a better time, with us recently announcing Prisma SASE - the industry’s most complete SASE solution, converging security, SD-WAN, and Autonomous Digital Experience Management into a single cloud-delivered service.

Palo Alto Networks offers convergence with best-in-class security by automating Prisma SD-WAN’s secure fabrics that extends traffic intelligence and performance monitoring to these overlays for complete visibility while delivering improved user experience. In comparison, legacy networking vendors force customers to establish traditional VPN tunnels manually to cloud security services resulting in increased complexity and costs. In addition, they fail to monitor performance on these overlays unless customers deploy a bookended architecture with an SD-WAN appliance in the cloud. With zero visibility and control on these links, their customers face significant delays in troubleshooting and remediation of issues resulting in degraded application experience.

Integrated 5G with Optimal User Experience using ADEM

Alongside our Prisma SASE, we recently announced its Prisma SD-WAN 5.6 - our most innovative SD-WAN release up to date with key capabilities like integrated 5G, artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) enhanced dashboards, Autonomous Digital Experience Management (ADEM) for all branches and users, and new CloudBlades integrations to deliver ChatOps, collaborations and operations management simplicity for to support hybrid workforce.

Our Instant-on-Network (ION) 1200 appliance is the first of its kind to offer an integrated 5G with a built-in LTE for backup that allows customers to leverage the higher speed and more bandwidth available 5G links as a primary WAN path. While legacy networking vendors with their clunky SD-WAN hardware claim to have 5G capabilities, in reality, they require customers to purchase an add-on or plugin appliance to enable 5G that adds significant costs on top of their expensive branch appliance.

Unlike other vendors, our ADEM capabilities are automatically enabled on our Prisma SD-WAN as a plugin via Prisma Access that delivers end-to-end visibility from the users, devices, LAN networks, WAN paths to data centers, application servers, and cloud. However, legacy vendors still mandate additional devices to be installed on top of their SD-WAN appliances requiring manual integration to enable ADEM. In short, they fail to provide the “A” in the ADEM, thus limiting the end-to-end visibility needed to identify and troubleshoot infrastructure issues rapidly.

Our revolutionary API-based CloudBlades allows customers to accelerate cloud connectivity, improve UCaaS application performance and automate incident impact management with zero disruption. The abstraction provided by CloudBlades between the branch appliance, controller and cloud/UCaaS/SaaS services enable seamless updates to these services without additional resources or downtime. Customers with legacy SD-WAN solutions often need to add additional hardware or software and go through complex manual workflows to enable branch services. This in turn adds to the overhead of managing frequent software updates, license upgrades and product refresh cycles impacting business uptime and agility significantly.

Palo Alto Networks to the Rescue

With the highest overall customer experience rating of 4.9/5.0 and the most reviewed and recommended solution at 98% in 2021 Gartner Peer Insights ‘Voice of the Customer’ WAN Edge Infrastructure, We believe our innovations, ability to execute, and strong vision resonates with our customers. We want customers struggling with their legacy SD-WAN deployments to know that we are here to help them migrate to our next-generation SD-WAN solution by leveraging our SD-WAN rescue programs. We offer complimentary guided workshops, trade-in credit for Prisma SD-WAN appliances, and migration service discounts for customers to replace their branch routers. To learn more about this discount program, please reach out to your sales representative in your region.

Read the full 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for the WAN Edge Infrastructure report with a complimentary copy today.

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Gartner, Magic Quadrant WAN Edge Infrastructure, 20 September 2021, Jonathan Forest | Naresh Singh

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