Tag Archives: News

VeloCloud SD-WAN user Brooks Brothers assesses VMware buy

The news of VMware’s intent to acquire software-defined WAN startup VeloCloud indicates a sign of the times, as the SD-WAN market continues to consolidate. While the acquisition might not have immediate repercussions for existing SD-WAN customers, it’s clear the shifting SD-WAN vendor landscape is forcing enterprises to consider how a potential sale of their current provider could affect their operations.

Case in point: Brooks Brothers. The New York-based retailer has some 300 locations using VeloCloud SD-WAN. Manny Stergakis, director of technical services, said while the clothier isn’t worried about the acquisition, he doesn’t want VMware to change VeloCloud SD-WAN.

“We would hope, obviously, [VMware] wouldn’t change the [VeloCloud] product and they would keep the support and the R&D they do for the product,” he said. He added that Brooks Brothers is currently a VMware shop, using VMware ESX hypervisor software and Dell products, as well.

“So, for us, I think [the acquisition] is a positive, because these are the vendors we use anyway,” he said.

Jim Duffy, an analyst at 451 Research, said he believes most companies using both VeloCloud and VMware software will experience few bumps along the way.

“If [customers] are already VMware shops, especially VMware NSX, they have to be feeling pretty good,” Duffy said in an email to SearchSDN. “This could potentially provide a consistent and uniform policy extension from the data center to the cloud, through the WAN.”

VeloCloud — like most vendors in similar situations — will most likely optimize its SD-WAN features for VMware environments, Duffy said. VeloCloud SD-WAN customers using Cisco products, however, could see their features capped out at the current level of capability. Cisco completed its acquisition of SD-WAN vendor Viptela this summer.

Duffy said both Cisco and VMware will try to use their SD-WAN acquisitions to persuade enterprises to unify their underlying network infrastructures on a single platform.

“It’s an opportunity for VMware to migrate those shops to NSX, and [it’s] also an opportunity for Cisco to migrate ACI [Application Centric Infrastructure] shops to Viptela,” he said. “Expect to see some incentives coming from these and other vendors in order to entice mixed-vendor environments to move one way or another.”

The right fit for Brooks Brothers

This could potentially provide a consistent and uniform policy extension from the data center to the cloud, through the WAN.
Jim Duffyanalyst at 451 Research

For Brooks Brothers, its adoption of VeloCloud SD-WAN was fueled by MPLS connectivity limitations it faced as it tried to bring up new business applications.

“As new applications were coming out on the business side for our stores — as well as our corporate locations — they had a lot more need for bandwidth, and the legacy MPLS wasn’t cutting it,” Stergakis said. Cost was another consideration.

These factors led Stergakis to look into broadband connectivity for the company’s locations. But with more than 500 company sites worldwide, this presented potential support issues.

“I didn’t want to have my network guys support 300 to 400 tunnels and firewalls all over the U.S. and the globe,” Stergakis said.

Brooks Brothers turned its attention to SD-WAN, which would allow the retailer to use broadband as the primary link, with cellular connectivity as backup. After looking at other SD-WAN startups, which Stergakis said he deemed immature, the retailer ran a successful pilot with VeloCloud SD-WAN.

“We were looking for a product that was easy to use,” he said. “Take it out of the box, set it down, configure it and send it out. That’s what we were able to achieve with VeloCloud.”

The design and prep work for the SD-WAN implementation took a couple of months, according to Stergakis.

“Obviously, when you introduce something new to the environment, we weren’t going to be converting everything over in one day,” he said. “We really had to scope out the traffic — the old traffic, the new traffic, what was going to happen, where it was going — to accommodate the routes everywhere.”

Brooks Brothers designed its SD-WAN with broadband or DSL as primary — depending on availability and location — and Long Term Evolution from Cradlepoint as the backup. MPLS is still used, but only minimally, Stergakis said, for larger corporate locations.

Brooks Brothers has already deployed VeloCloud SD-WAN in its Australian and Hong Kong locations, as well as the majority of its North American sites. Once the company completes the remaining six North American implementations, Stergakis said locations in Japan and Europe are next. Then, the company will look at the remaining sites using MPLS and determine how to move forward from there.

“Like us, I’m sure many people out there look at what’s on the market and what they have today,” he said. “You have to look at the appliance and the configuration, the ease of use, the effort the companies are putting into it, and then you make the right choice.”

Chris Evans and Guests to Play Middle-earth: Shadow of War on Xbox Live Sessions November 1

Xbox fans! We have some awesome news for you. Next up in our Xbox Live Sessions is none other than actor and Captain America himself, Chris Evans! A few surprise celebrity friends will join him as they get their hands on the world’s most powerful console, Xbox One X, as they play the recently released Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The interactive livestream hosted on the Mixer Xbox Channel is airing tomorrow, November 1, at 4 p.m. PT.

I’ve talked to Chris and he is super pumped for him and his friends to play Shadow of War, the epic follow-up to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, on the Xbox One X. They’ll look to forge a new Ring of Power to amass an army and fight against the full power of the Dark Lord, Sauron and his Ringwraiths. I can’t wait to see them go behind enemy lines to try and conquer fortresses and dominate Mordor from within.

I’m really looking forward to this Xbox Live Sessions because I think our fans are going to love interacting with Chris and his surprise guests during a night of gaming. Also, be sure to tune-in to the livestream for the chance to submit questions and win special prizes. This episode of Xbox Live Sessions will be hosted by Microsoft Studios Community Manager, Rukari Austin.

Make sure you tune in tomorrow, November 1 at 4 p.m. PT on Mixer and stay tuned to Xbox Wire for future episodes of Xbox Live Sessions!

Introducing Cortana in Skype—Microsoft’s intelligent assistant comes to your chat window | Skype Blogs

Conversation is central in our everyday lives. We chat to stay in touch, to share news and ideas that excite us, and to make plans for getting together with family and friends. But we often find ourselves in need of information—a fact to share, a place to meet, a movie time, or the perfect restaurant. Looking for information often requires interrupting the conversation, even if briefly, and switching apps to find what we’re looking for and bring it back into the conversation. But shouldn’t technology make our lives easier and truly bring the answers we need to our fingertips? At Skype we are certain about it, and it’s with this goal in mind, that we are bringing Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent assistant, into Skype to help you in your everyday conversations.

With Cortana’s in-context assistance, it’s easier to keep your conversations going by having Cortana suggest useful information based on your chat, like restaurant options or movie reviews. And if you’re in a time crunch? Cortana also suggests smart replies, allowing you to respond to any message quickly and easily—without typing a thing.

Cortana can also help you organize your day—no need to leave your conversations. Cortana can detect when you’re talking about scheduling events or things you have to do and will recommend setting up a reminder, which you will receive on all your devices that have Cortana enabled. So, whether you’re talking about weekend plans or an important work appointment, nothing will slip through the cracks.

In addition to being your ‘behind-the-scenes’ assistant, Cortana is also a contact in Skype. So now, you can have natural conversations in one-on-one chats with Cortana—just like you would with your friends, family, and coworkers. Get answers to your burning questions, like the name of the lead actor in your favorite movie or what the weather outlook is for the weekend. You can also ask Cortana to check your flight status, give you a stock quote, or suggest the best restaurants in your area. With Cortana at your disposal, every day can be a bit more productive—and a lot more fun.

At Skype, we’re committed to making your Skype experience even better. With Cortana, we’ve added a powerful, intelligent assistant to help you with your everyday tasks right where you are and save you time.

Cortana in Skype will be gradually rolled out, starting today, to our Android and iOS customers in the United States. Your feedback is key to continue improving Cortana, so please visit our community page and let us know what you think or send us your recommendations. To learn more about how to start using Cortana and find other quick answers, please visit the FAQs.