If Wendy’s, Burger King and McDonald’s can find a way to make it clear how they are different despite each offering hamburgers and french fries, why is it, five years into the hottest networking disruption in decades, companies are having so much trouble differentiating their SD-WAN products? (And, before anyone jumps in regarding their menu, yes, I realize the menu of these fast food giants has greatly evolved over the years, but the food with which they made their mark remains burgers and fries.)
I understand that there are now 60+ vendors offering SD-WAN-like products, but even before the market exploded in terms of providers and adoption, even the top five vendors’ messages are the equivalent of a vanilla milkshake. When asked about some of our biggest challenges as a company and as an industry, I typically talk about the need to do some SD-WAN washing. In fact, I often share the story of how I attended a presentation at a conference and as I was sitting there, I closed my eyes and listened closely. My takeaway from the 60-minute discussion: “Wow, if I didn’t already know which vendor was presenting, I couldn’t tell who it was – everyone sounded alike.”
So, what is it then that makes Silver Peak different? It’s probably the number one question I get asked whether I’m talking to customers, partners, analysts, press or new employees. The challenge is that when you tell someone that we deliver the highest quality of experience for any cloud or data center application, for example – chances are pretty good these days that at least one other SD-WAN vendor has laid claim to delivering some variation of this as well. The truth comes out when companies test our product, but if we don’t do a good job of differentiating ourselves in our conversations, it’s possible we may never get the opportunity to prove our differentiation and that we offer a superior solution.
With that backdrop, I’d like to share with you how Silver Peak is different and why customers choose us.
There are two dimensions of why we win in the market: First, what makes Silver Peak, the company, unique; and second, what makes our SD-WAN Edge platform, Unity EdgeConnect™, unique? In this first of two blogs, I’ll focus the discussion on Silver Peak the company and the business value we deliver while solving real problems for our customers. I’ll follow this up with a more product-focused overview of our differentiation.
We Only Do WAN Thing
For the past 15 years, we’ve exclusively focused on helping our customers to build a better WAN, it’s what we do and it’s all we do. So, why does it matter?
- Our WAN expertise is the result of internal innovation and engineering
- We are focused exclusively on WAN transformation and innovation
- We have built WANs for some of the largest companies in the world
- We didn’t acquire our expertise or the underlying technology
- We do not include SD-WAN as part of a larger, more diverse portfolio
- Our success is directly tied to our customers’ success
- More focus means more expertise
Networking is not something you can just add a few features to, and it works. It’s complex and requires expertise and knowledge. It’s why, if you look at recent analyst assessments, one of the recurring cautions you see with vendors is that many have limited experience with complex networking solutions and cloud-first deployments.
What else sets Silver Peak apart?
The Multiplier Effect
The second dimension revolves around delivering tangible business value to our customers. Digital transformation is a strategic investment for enterprises and Silver Peak delivers the highest multiplier on underlying cloud investments. Most companies try to point out the cost savings of leveraging SD-WAN but those are table stakes. The multiplier effect includes:
- The ability to generate more return value from cloud investments
- Better economics, control, reliability and performance with a modern WAN
- Improved productivity, efficiency and even increased revenue
To give you an example of a multiplier effect, today, when enterprises invest in moving applications to the cloud, they also invest in technologies like single sign-on from Okta to help ensure that those SaaS applications are being leveraged fully and efficiently. If users had to maintain 50 usernames and passwords to access each application in the cloud, they would certainly complain. The loss in productivity would offset any cost savings. The incremental cost for Okta returns a significant amount of value from the enterprise’s cloud investments.
By making applications more available and reliable, by giving more visibility into the WAN and by strengthening security, Silver Peak delivers the highest multiplier effect on existing and future cloud investments.
Change is Good…or at Least it Should Be
In a cloud-first world everything is dynamic. Silver Peak enables customers to manage continuous change by enabling the WAN to learn and seamlessly adapt based on the changing needs of the business. Changing business priorities, moving to different service providers, changes in SaaS, IaaS and security policies can be handled automatically and without disruption.
The Choice is Yours
Finally, we believe many customers much prefer to leverage best-in-class technology rather than deal with the compromises associated with buying technology from a single vendor because it’s part of a broader portfolio they’ve pieced together. We give customers the freedom to choose best-in-class technologies across the board that include:
- The type or combination of transport (DSL, LTE, Cable, MPLS, DIA, etc.)
- The transport provider
- The public cloud provider
- The security provider and approach
We have established high-value partnerships with leading vendors, delivering one-click integration that maximizes agility and value. Particularly when it comes to security, we offer the security function you need at the branch and then partner with those vendors that specialize in security. We do not try to build our own version of next-generation security. Networking and security each require specific expertise. Do you want to compromise, or do you want to have the best?
You Deserve a Break Today
As you can see, there are a number of high-level business reasons that set Silver Peak apart from the competition and we haven’t even talked about the solution. Stay tuned for the second part of the series on differentiation when I cover what makes our product and technology different.