Colt launches SD-WAN 2.0 to meet enterprises' evolving needs

Colt Technology Services has beefed up its SD-WAN service to offer enterprises more capabilities across their evolving network landscapes.

By working with Versa Networks, Colt was an early adopter of SD-WAN across Europe when the service first launched our years ago. Much has changed since then, including more employees working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the SD-WAN front, the evolution has included moving away from do-it-yourself versions of SD-WAN to managed SD-WAN services. Colt's SD-WAN 2.0 reflects some of the changes across the industry, such as the emergence of SASE (secure access service edge), which converges the functions of network and security point solutions into a unified, global cloud-native service.

Colt's Peter Coppens, vice president of the product portfolio, said one of the reasons his company picked Versa in the first place was due to its inherent security capabilities, but 2.0 now includes advanced firewalls from Palo Alto Networks and Check Point as well.

"A big trend in the market, although it's actually not that new, is that the whole security market and the whole wide area networking markets are really converging into one market," Coppens said of SASE, which is a term that Gartner analysts coined last year. "Some of our customers would prefer a specific vendor on the security side. That's something that we've also enabled. We have the ability to deliver Palo Alto and Check Point, and number of others, as network function virtualization applications on top of our universal CPE capability that's embedded with SD-WAN."

Colt also checked several other new SD-WAN boxes by working with Versa, including a WAN optimization suite, advanced network insights using machine learning and artificial intelliegence and an optional self install feature for the customer premises equipment (CPE.)

The WAN optimization suite includes packet cloning and forward error correction (FEC) capabilities to improve the speed and reliability of mission critical applications across enterprises' networks.

"Not everyone needs the packet cloning and the forward error correction, but there are definitely enterprises that are asking us because their specific needs demand that they have such capabilities," Coppens said. "So at first we started with the very basic capabilities that everyone wants these days and now we are moving toward a long tail of capabilities in terms of the extra features we can bring. The forward error correction and packet cloning are definitely some of those."

On the SASE front, Colt has built in three-tier security across customers' WAN, LAN, and DMZ. Colt's SD-WAN 2.0 is also capable of supporting integrated Dynamic NAT and DDoS protection.

Coppens said Colt has also added Versa's artificial intelligence and machine learning into its new analytics platform to provide more granular insights and greater depth in network reporting. Customers have direct access to the web portal, which allows them to change load balancing settings and firewalls online in real time if they choose to do so.

Colts SD-WAN 2.0 service can be managed by the customer, by Colt, or by some combination of the two depending on the size and resources of customers' IT teams. RELATED: Why service providers and vendors are tuning up home-based SD-WAN services

Colt's self-install feature was designed for small installations in countries or places that are hard to reach, but it has come in handy for self-installs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Coppens said Colt has an IPSec client version in place for home offices, and expects to have software or hardware-based SD-WAN versions available for remote workers sometime next year.

RELATED: Colt upgrades SD-WAN with VoIP optimization and IPv6 support


The SD-WAN 2.0 features followed on the heels of other SD-WAN enhancements by Colt this year. In June, Colt launched of SD-WAN Multi-Cloud, which enables customers to use a single connection to reach multiple cloud service providers over SD-WAN. In April, Colt also deployed VoIP optimization and support for IPv6, which was underpinned by SD-WAN.

While SD-WAN has undergone mass evolution since Colt first offered it four years ago, Versa has been able to evolve with Colt's needs. Other service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon and Lumen, use multiple SD-WAN vendors for their services.

"Versa at that time was quite an unknown start-up," Coppens said of Colt's launch of SD-WAN in 2016 with Versa. "We were one of their first customers in Europe. That was a definitely a good match with Versa because they have been growing. They have been successful.

"At the moment 2.0 is based on Versa. We've continued to drive more and more value, features and options on top of that platform and 2.0 is our big next release."