The founders of the SD-WAN vendor SimpleWAN came together out of necessity. They were running IT companies in Arizona that served branch offices. But every time one of these offices needed some kind of IT maintenance or upgrade, it involved a person driving to the location. They needed a way to manage these branch offices with software.
“I had a hosted VoIP company; other people had phone companies,” said SimpleWAN CEO Erik Knight. “We didn’t know the term SD-WAN. It was just the pain of not being able to control the networks. We were having to drive places every time you needed a network change.”
Knight’s own company, Comvoice, had a lot of clients in Texas, but it didn’t have a field team in that state. “Being able to light up phone stuff remotely required a technology,” he said. “We had a standalone firewall-type device, and it grew into an SD-WAN cloud control platform.”
Ultimately, Knight and his colleagues sold their voice companies — Knight sold Comvoice to Jive Communications — and they founded SimpleWAN in 2014. Today, the company’s SD-WAN technology is used at more than 5,000 branch locations.
Some of SimpleWAN’s first customers came from its founders’ former companies. Those customers include Jive Communications, Nextiva, and BroadVoice. Knight said, “SD-WAN became a tool for us to become a tool for other people. We’ve got good-sized VoIP and managed service providers that have been white-labeling us. A lot of them were out-of-the-box customers for us.”
Lately, SimpleWAN has been focusing on branch locations that have no IT on site. “These companies are moving servers off-site to the cloud, and we are the connector to those platforms,” said Knight. “We connect them to public cloud and VoIP providers.”
The company deploys its technology via software that runs on a very simple, generic device. It also includes unified threat management (UTM) security.
In April, SimpleWAN announced its SD-WAN 2.0, which takes functionality into the local area network (LAN) with SD-LAN management. With SD-WAN 2.0 customers can manage their firewall, WiFi, network diagnostics packages, and content filtering, along with their SD-WAN needs.
The company hasn’t made public how much it’s raised in funding, other than a $250,000 grant it was awarded by the Arizona Innovation Challenge in 2017. Knight said it’s also gotten funding from an angel round and a private round. “We’re much lower funded than our competitors, but we have over 5,000 deployments.”
According to its website, its customers include Domino’s Pizza, Toyota, Chevrolet, SuperShuttle, Meineke, and Farmers Insurance.