Windstream adds Fortinet to its SD-WAN quiver

Windstream Enterprises has expanded its SD-WAN horizon with an additional solution backed by Fortinet.

While Windstream first offered a VMware/VelcoCloud SD-WAN service two years ago, it picked next-gen firewall vendor Fortinet for an additional SD-WAN service. While Fortinet is well-known for its next-generation firewall work with SD-WAN vendors, it also has its own SD-WAN solution.

Windstream launched its first SD-WAN service in combination with the SD-WAN assets it picked up from the EarthLink deal in 2017.

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Having multiple SD-WAN vendors has become par for the course these days for most large telcos. CenturyLink, AT&T and BT are among the telcos that have multiple SD-WAN vendor technologies.

"I'm very proud of the work that the (Windstream) team has done to build a service and a solution around that VMware/VeloCloud platform, but having said that there are areas where VMware/VeloCloud aren't as strong," said Mike Frane, vice president of product management at Windstream Enterprise. "We've been working over the last 18 months to identify those technologies that could fit specific gaps that we have in our SD-WAN portfolio, and we found that with Fortinet."

Windstream's criteria for its second SD-WAN vendor included an on-premise next-generation firewall to serve retail customers on site. Frane said multi-tenancy was also a core requirement.

"We're a managed communications service provider, so we don't want spin up a bunch of different orchestrators and a bunch of different management platforms," he said. "So, it had to support multi tenancy and it also had to integrate into our Cloud Core."

Windstream's Cloud Core architecture was designed from the ground up for cloud application services and applications, and to simplify end-to-end deployments and the management of services across Windstream's network.

Frane said that Cloud Core was key to ensuring that Windstream's customers are as adjacent as possible to their applications in order to deliver them more efficiently. It's also key to a multi-SD-WAN solution that Windstream plans to offer down the road.

"The vision here is that given that both VeloCloud and Fortinet are integrated into our Cloud Core, and because there's no federation between SD-WAN technology vendors, having them integrated will allow us in the future to exchange traffic between sites," Frane said. "So it can come from a Fortinet site and go to a VeloCloud site, or to another vendor we integrate in."

Frane didn't provide a timeframe for the integration of the SD-WAN vendors on Windstream's network.