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ChannelPro Exclusive: Zyxel Aims to Disrupt SD-WAN Market with Affordably-Priced Service for SMBs

Available for as little as $149 a year, the new add-on for the networking vendor’s ZyWALL VPN firewalls (pictured) lets users run voice and video traffic across the same internet connections they use for everything else without compromising performance. By Rich Freeman

Networking vendor Zyxel Communications Inc. has added SD-WAN capabilities tailor-made for SMBs to its VPN firewall devices.

Available immediately as an optional add-on for the family of ZyWALL VPN appliances Zyxel shipped in January, the new service is designed to shake up a hot and rapidly growing opportunity by making software-defined WAN available to small businesses for as little as $149 a year, according to Tri Nguyen, a market development and product manager at Zyxel, which has U.S. headquarters in Anaheim, Calif.

“We’re really disrupting the market,” he says.

That low sticker price is one of several ways the new service brings SD-WAN functionality within financial reach of SMBs, Nguyen continues. Another is the product’s WAN optimization feature, which allows organizations with multiple internet links to route traffic dynamically on a packet by packet basis to the fastest connection. The resulting performance boost enables businesses to use one set of standard internet lines for all of their online activity, rather than buy dedicated, specialized connections for their most bandwidth-intensive workloads.

“You can use a traditional broadband connection for highly reliable communications, including voice and video, without the need for MPLS or frame relay,” according to David Soares, vice president of North American sales at Zyxel.

LAN optimization functionality in the new service lets users prioritize VoIP and video applications as well, to reduce latency and jitter.

Zyxel’s SD-WAN solution exchanges traffic across VPN tunnels that technicians can quickly establish and configure using a new graphical cloud-based administration tool called the Zyxel Orchestrator Management Interface. Customers can also manage their VPN firewall hardware via Orchestrator, which comes with support for zero-touch provisioning among other features. According to Soares, Zyxel will eventually roll management of the new SD-WAN solution into its Nebula cloud networking and management solution.

Zyxel’s SD-WAN offering is designed for use with ZyWALL VPN50, VPN100, and VPN300 firewalls, which are recommended for sites with up to 50, 100, and 300 users respectively. Customers pay for the service via an annual subscription fee set at $149 for the VPN50, $249 for the VPN100, and $349 for the VPN300.

That same yearly subscription also provides access to Zyxel’s content filtering service, which shields networks from malicious and hacked websites; its Application Patrol service, which lets administrators throttle or block bandwidth-clogging workloads; and its Geo Enforcer service, which lets companies restrict traffic from specific countries or ISPs.

The VPN appliances themselves are affordably priced as well, Soares says, with the VPN50 listing at $350, the VPN100 listing at $475, and the VPN300 listing at $900. The total acquisition cost for both hardware and software, he continues, compares favorably to most SD-WAN services on the market, which are scaled and priced for larger businesses.

“Some SD-WAN licenses and/or services can be very expensive, costing many times what our solution costs,” Soares says. Unlike some of those services, Nguyen adds, Zyxel’s doesn’t require users to run traffic through a multi-tenant network cloud infrastructure that they pay by the megabit to utilize.

“You can basically build your own network cloud,” he says.

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