Netsurion goes its own way with SD-WAN

While there may be further consolidation afoot in the SD-WAN sector, managed services provider Netsurion feels safely ensconced in its own niche.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Netsurion launched its SD-WAN product, which is called Netsurion Connect, back in March, but the company started out doing multisite security and payment card information (PCI) compliance for fast-food restaurants.

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Netsurion, which has 288 employees, was able to enter the SD-WAN space based on two key deals. In 2016, Netsurion parent company Providence Strategic Growth Capital Partners bought EventTracker for its security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities. In November of last year, Netsurion forged a deal with aptiWiz for its SD-WAN technology.

"Netsurion and EventTracker really came together to focus on network security and end point security for the small and midmarket, but still with a great focus on retail restaurant hospitality, and PCI compliance," said Netsurion's Aaron Branson, vice president of marketing, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "Then, toward the end of last year, we acquired a technology, an SD-WAN technology, and really built from there to add into our managed firewall capability for having our very own SD branch or SD-WAN capability."

John Ayers, Netsurion

John Ayers, Netsurion's vice president of product management, said his company's focus is on building a better branch. Netsurion's managed service offering is a blend of managed compliance readiness, managed SIEM and managed connectivity through Wi-Fi, LTE and broadband.

While there are roughly 50 vendors in the SD-WAN space, Ayers said Netsurion doesn't compete with the likes of Versa Networks, Cisco's Viptela or VMware's VeloCloud because his company doesn't offer a hybrid service that includes MPLS.

While Netsurion does compete with Cradlepoint, Cisco's Meraki SD-WAN offering, SimpleWAN and Cybera across its main areas of focus, Ayers said Netsurion isn't worried about being squeezed out of the SD-WAN sector since it has carved out its own niche.

"We have a unique niche that we're focusing on, which is the branch," Ayers said. "If you really want to call it out, we're not SD-WAN, we're SD branch. If you really wanted to dive into that, while we are providing a WAN experience, it's really connecting the branch, and securing the branch and making sure the branch is reliable to conduct business on. We really want to focus in on delivering the best of class at the branch level."

Netsurion provides cloud-based orchestration that allows customers to provision their own services as well as visibility into those services via a web portal.

Netsurion's SD-WAN platform runs proprietary software on a Netsurion-branded appliance at the edge of networks that enables Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity as well as a firewall. Netsurion has two points of presence (POPs) with plans to add more next year.

"We have our own appliance and we use our own virtual network function in the cloud to help mange and control it," Ayers said. "Our box is a stateful firewall and it has deep packet inspection.

"One of the things that is unique to us is we're not focusing on protecting the MPLS environment or being a hybrid environment. We realize that customers who are cutting the cord for MPLS are looking for a solution that really focuses on securing a branch. That's what our box does as an edge appliance."

With its additional capabilities, Netsurion is now offering its solutions to managed service providers that in turn pair those capabilities with the bandwidth they're reselling.

"Our core business was on the quick service restaurants space and fast casual dining," Ayers said. "That's how we got our start, but we've been inching up in the market into that midmarket space. The big thing that we see a lot of with our midmarket customers today is that they are moving away from the need for a data center leg, but the other piece they're looking for is simplicity.

"They need that compliance readiness. We built our product with those things in mind to deliver that continuity, and to deliver that security suite, and the ability to provide that simplified management, but ultimately, it's about future proofing their environment."

In addition to adding more POPs to get closer to customers, Ayers said Netsurion's road map for next year includes adding more services, such as wireless meshing capabilities, a new user interface and a new appliance.

"Today, our current form factor for our box is only a five-port device, so it's one WAN, four LAN," Ayers said. "Our new box will actually be an eight-port box. It will also have dual SIM capabilities. Today it's a single SIM environment where we use AT&T or Verizon. The new box will actually come onboard with AT&T and Verizon, but the customer can actually deploy both carriers if they want in the single branch environment or they can deploy one and rapidly enable the other one if necessary. We're really focusing on helping businesses be more flexible in their branches with their connectivity."