SD-WAN Helps Level 3 Hit Gartner List

April 06, 2017

By Steve Anderson, Contributing Writer

Gartner (News - Alert)'s Magic Quadrant study has long been a bellwether in the technology market, showing off the biggest names in a particular field and which names may well be the biggest before long. The software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) field is no exception, and recently, Level 3 Communications (News - Alert) stepped into the global network services field with a Challenger rating on the Magic Quadrant.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant ranks firms on both completeness of vision and the ability to execute that vision. Companies scoring high on both fronts are called Leaders, while those with a complete vision, but a lack of ability are called Visionaries. Companies scoring lower in both categories are called Niche Players, and those like Level 3—with a high ability to execute a vision but a less-than-complete vision overall—are called Challengers.

In order to get in the listings in the first place, reports note, companies had to be able to provide fixed enterprise networking service in at least three of the five major geographic regions on Earth, whether it's SD-WAN service, WAN service, cloud connectivity, or any of a variety of other connectivity functions.

This is a good start, and Gartner particularly values companies that can provided value-added network services like session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking systems, application visibility, and several others. Level 3 has done quite well on these fronts, and has now appeared as a Challenger on the Gartner Magic Quadrant study for three years now. Generally, Level 3 offers a hybrid WAN approach, similar in nature to an SD-WAN, but with a few extra wrinkles that make it noteworthy.

Since Level 3 also offers cloud connect solutions that scale with a business' needs, as well as Ethernet services going as high as six Gbps in bandwidth provided, Level 3 can offer a wide array of services for users, and thus delivers no shortage of value to the market.

It's somewhat odd that Level 3 hasn't made more effort to step up its overall vision in the market, at least as far as Gartner's concerned, but it may well have made moves on that front. Bear in mind that all those other firms can likewise see their own positions, and any company that alters its level of vision or ability to execute will alter the overall picture. If all the Challengers step up vision, and the Leaders maintain relatively high levels, then the list isn't altered as the whole market is more visionary.

Still, Level 3 has made quite an achievement here, and should represent an excellent value for anyone who goes with it for networking services from SD-WAN to Ethernet connectivity.