Tag Archives: SDWAN

Nuage Networks, Talari SD-WAN tack on multi-cloud connectivity

Software-defined WAN vendors are rushing to enhance their SD-WAN platforms with multi-cloud support, as more enterprises and service providers migrate their workloads to the cloud. This week, both Nuage Networks and Talari made multi-cloud connectivity announcements of their own.

Nuage Networks, a Nokia company, updated its SD-WAN platform — Virtualized Network Services — to better support SaaS and multi-cloud connectivity.

The platform enhancement moves to address three specific pain points among customers, according to Hussein Khazaal, Nuage’s vice president of marketing and partnerships. The three points, multi-cloud connectivity, value-added services and end-to-end security, are already available to customers.

“It’s a single platform that you can deploy today and get connectivity to software as a service,” Khazaal said. “We support customers as they send traffic directly from the branch to the SaaS application.”

In addition to multi-cloud connectivity, Nuage VNS offers customers the option to add value-added services — or virtual network functions (VNFs) — that can be embedded within the SD-WAN platform, hosted in x86 customer premises equipment (CPE) or through service chaining (a set of network services interconnected through the network to support an application). These VNFs are available from more than 40 third-party partners and can include services like next-generation firewalls, voice over IP and WAN optimization, Khazaal said.

While many service providers are leaning toward the VNF and virtual CPE approach, the process isn’t simple, according to Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research.

“Many service providers are finding the vCPE and VNF approach side to be challenging,” Doyle said. “Those with the resources can, and will, pursue it, and that’s where Nuage could be a piece of the puzzle.”

When it comes to enterprise customers, however, the VNF approach is less attainable, both Doyle and Khazaal noted.

“Nuage is one piece of the puzzle that a customer might add if they’re able to do it themselves,” Doyle said. “But most customers don’t want to piece together different elements.”

For smaller enterprise customers, Khazaal recommended using the option with embedded features, like stateful firewall and URL filtering, built into the SD-WAN platform.

Although Nuage has more than 400 enterprise customers, according to a company statement, its primary market is among service providers. Nuage counts more than 50 service providers as partners that offer managed SD-WAN services — including BT, Cogeco Peer 1, Telefónica and Vertel — and has been a proven partner for service providers over the years, Doyle said.

“Nuage is a popular element of service providers’ managed services strategies, including SD-WAN,” he said. “These enhancements will be attractive mainly to the service providers.”

Nuage VNS is available now with perpetual and subscription-based licenses, and varies based on desired features and capabilities.

Talari launches Cloud Connect for SaaS, multi-cloud connectivity

In an additional multi-cloud move, Talari updated its own SD-WAN offering with Talari Cloud Connect, a platform that supports access to cloud-based and SaaS applications.

Talari also named five accompanying Cloud Connect partners: RingCentral, Pure IP, Evolve IP, Meta Networks and Mode. These partners will run Talari’s Cloud Connect point of presence (POP) technology in their own infrastructure, creating a tunnel from the customer’s Talari software into the cloud or SaaS service, according to Andy Gottlieb, Talari’s co-founder and chief marketing officer.

“The technology at the service provider is multi-tenant, so they only have to stand up one instance to support multiple customers,” Gottlieb said. Meantime, enterprises can use the Cloud Connect tunnel without having to worry about building infrastructure in the cloud, which reduces costs and complexity, he added.

Talari’s partner list reflects the demands of both customers and service providers, he said. Unified communications vendors like RingCentral, for example, require reliable connectivity and low latency for their applications. Meta Networks, on the other hand, offers cloud-based security capabilities, which enterprises are increasingly adding to their networks. Talari SD-WAN already supports multi-cloud connectivity to Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Talari Cloud Connect will be available at the end of October. The software comes at no additional charge for Talari customers with maintenance contracts or with subscriptions, Gottlieb said. Also, Cloud Connect partners can use the Cloud Connect POP software free of charge to connect to Talari SD-WAN customers, he added.

Microsoft bills Azure network as the hub for remote offices

Microsoft’s foray into the rapidly growing SD-WAN market could solve a major customer hurdle and open Azure to even more workloads.

All the major public cloud platforms have increased their networking functionality in recent months, and Microsoft’s latest service, Azure Virtual WAN, pushes the boundaries of those capabilities. The software-defined network acts as a hub that links with third-party tools to improve application performance and reduce latency for companies with multiple offices that access Azure.

IDC estimates the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) market will hit $8 billion by 2021, as cloud computing continues to proliferate and employees must access cloud-hosted workloads from various locations. So far, the major cloud providers have left that work to partners.

But this Azure network service solves a big problem for customers that make decisions about network transports and integration with existing routers, as they consume more cloud resources from more locations, said Brad Casemore, an IDC analyst.

“Now what you’ve got is more policy-based, tighter integration within the SD-WAN,” he said.

Azure Virtual WAN uses a distributed model to link Microsoft’s global network with traditional on-premises routers and SD-WAN systems provided by Citrix and Riverbed. Microsoft’s decision to rely on partners, rather than provide its own gateway services inside customers’ offices, suggests it doesn’t plan to compete across the totality of the SD-WAN market, but rather provide an on-ramp to integrate with third-party products.

Customers can already use various SD-WAN providers to easily link to a public cloud, but Microsoft has taken the level of integration a step further, said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass. Most SD-WAN vendors are building out security ecosystems, but Microsoft already has that in Azure, for example.

This could also simplify the purchasing process, and it would make sense for Microsoft to eventually integrate this virtual WAN with Azure Stack to help facilitate hybrid deployments, Laliberte said.

It’s unclear if customers trust Microsoft — or any single hyperscale cloud vendor — at the core of their SD-WAN implementation, as their architectures spread across multiple clouds.

The Azure Virtual WAN service is billed as a way to connect remote offices to the cloud, and also to each other, with improved reliability and availability of applications. But that interoffice linkage also could lure more companies to use Azure for a whole host of other services, particularly customers just starting to embrace the public cloud.

There are still questions about the Azure network service, particularly around multi-cloud deployments. It’s unclear if customers trust Microsoft — or any single hyperscale cloud vendor — at the core of their SD-WAN implementation, as their architectures spread across multiple clouds, Casemore said.

Azure updates boost network security, data analytics tools

Microsoft also introduced an Azure network security feature this week, Azure Firewall, with which users can create and enforce network policies across multiple endpoints. A stateful firewall protects Azure Virtual Network resources and maintains high availability without any restrictions on scale.

Several other updates include an expanded Azure Data Box service, still in preview, which provides customers with an appliance onto which they can upload data and ship directly to an Azure data center. These types of devices have become a popular means to speed massive migrations to public clouds. Another option for Azure users, Azure Data Box Disk, uses SSD disks to transfer up to 40 TB of data spread across five drives. That’s smaller than the original box’s 100 TB capacity, and better suited to collect data from multiple branches or offices, the company said.

Microsoft also doubled the query performance of Azure SQL Data Warehouse to support up to 128 concurrent queries, and waived the transfer fee for migrations to Azure of legacy applications that run on Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/2008 R2, for which Microsoft will end support in July 2019. Microsoft also plans to add features to Power BI for ingestions and integration across BI models that are similar to Microsoft customers’ experience with Power Query for Excel.

Cisco to merge Viptela, DNA Center for campus networking

ORLANDO, Fla. — Cisco plans to merge its Viptela SD-WAN management software into DNA Center over the next 18 months, providing customers with a single view of their LAN, WAN and campus networks.

During interviews this week at the Cisco Live conference, company executives said the integration would take place after Cisco builds a cloud-based version of DNA Center for campus networking. Companies would then have the option of accessing DNA Center as a service from Cisco or a managed service provider. DNA Center is a centralized software console for managing campus networks built on top of Cisco’s Catalyst 9000 switches.

“At that point, it may make logical sense to bring the two solutions together,” said Scott Harrell, general manager of Cisco’s enterprise networking business.

Waiting for a cloud-based version of DNA Center makes sense, because Viptela’s management application, vManage, is an online service. In a separate interview, Kiran Ghodgaonkar, senior marketing manager for Cisco’s enterprise products, said integrating vManage into DNA Center would occur over the next 12 to 18 months.

Merging the two products will tie the Viptela SD-WAN into other technologies wrapped into DNA Center, such as SD-Access, which lets engineers set access policies that follow employees wherever and however they want to enter the corporate network, Ghodgaonkar said. The SD-Access integration is essential, because Viptela routes traffic to and from business applications running on SaaS and IaaS platforms.

One view of LAN, WAN and campus networking

Overall, merging Viptela technology into DNA Center would simplify network management by treating the LAN, WAN and campus networking as a “single entity,” Ghodgaonkar said. Cisco wants to make SD-WAN management part of a single workflow within DNA Center.

Until then, development of Viptela’s SD-WAN and vManage products would continue “full-bore,” Harrell said. Slowing down the current pace of upgrades would risk falling behind rivals adding security, analytics, load balancing and other features to their software.

“Right now, we want to be able to iterate and make innovations as fast as possible,” Harrell said.

Enhancements planned for Viptela include making the 4000 Series Integrated Services Routers for the branch manageable through vManage, Harrell said. “That’ll be this summer.”

To make that happen, Viptela would run as a software image on ISR, Ghodgaonkar said. Cisco plans to release the image as a software upgrade for the router starting in July.

Cisco customers currently use ISR to run its legacy SD-WAN product, Intelligent WAN. IWAN’s complexity prevented it from becoming a successful product, so many analysts have predicted Cisco would slowly migrate customers to Viptela.

Since acquiring Viptela a year ago, Cisco has increased sales of the company’s SD-WAN product to more than 800 customers globally, according to Ghodgaonkar. He declined to say how many customers Viptela had when Cisco bought the company.

The global market for SD-WAN, which includes revenue from vendors and managed service providers, will grow by nearly 70% annually through 2021, when it could reach $8 billion, according to IDC.

Versa SD-WAN counts progress in customer wins, not ‘dollars’

Success in the software-defined WAN market means more than revenue, at least according to one SD-WAN exec, who backs his claim by touting the number of licenses his firm has obtained since 2012.

“While others are talking about their progress in dollars, we’ve been quietly progressing in winning service providers and enterprises and getting them under contract,” said Kelly Ahuja, CEO and president of Versa Networks, based in San Jose, Calif.

Versa counts more than 150,000 global contract licenses since the firm was founded six years ago. Versa SD-WAN customers include enterprises, as well as more than 50 service providers, including Verizon, Comcast Business, CenturyLink and China Telecom.

Yet “progress in dollars” remains a key metric, according to market watcher IHS Markit, which reported 2018 second quarter SD-WAN revenues reaching $162 million, a 12% jump from over a year ago.

The IHS Markit report ranked VeloCloud — acquired by VMware in 2017 — as segment leader, with 19% market share. Aryaka and Silver Peak trailed, recording shares of 18% and 12%, respectively.

Kelly Ahuja, CEO of Versa NetworksKelly Ahuja

Versa SD-WAN wasn’t listed in the IHS report, which included appliances and control and management software as part of the revenue numbers. But Ahuja said revenue is just one dimension of market traction, as vendor products and offerings widely vary. Versa numbers and revenue, for example, don’t include hardware, as the company is subscription only, he added.

“Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market,” Ahuja said.

Our traction in terms of the number of licenses [we have] should speak for itself about how well we’re doing in the market.
Kelly Ahujapresident and CEO of Versa Networks

Versa Networks offers three types of license tiers: standard, advanced and secure SD-WAN. The secure SD-WAN service comes with a next-generation firewall and unified threat management and accounted for about 70% of the 150,000 licenses, Ahuja added. Further, customers can purchase Versa SD-WAN licenses based on throughput requirements, which ranges depending on customer type.

“A lot of our business is business to business — to service providers that then sell to enterprises,” he said. “Their customers are typically financial, transportation, retail, hospitality and healthcare.”

Ahuja said the majority of enterprises Versa serves consists of organizations with large internal IT teams that can deploy and manage the service themselves. These include global oil and gas companies, brand-name technology vendors, retailers, and banks and financial firms such as Capital One.

Talari adds SD-WAN appliance for smaller edge sites

Talari added another SD-WAN appliance to its portfolio this week. The Talari E50 appliance is tailored to customers that require easy SD-WAN deployments to connect small branch locations, like retail, mobile and remote home-office sites, according to Talari’s website.

Talari’s SD-WAN appliance supports 20, 50 and 100 Mbps performance across multiple WAN links, with a “pay-as-you-grow” purchase model. It also consolidates routing, firewall and WAN optimization features within the E50 platform, the company said in a statement. Additionally, the SD-WAN appliance integrates Zscaler security, with traffic passing through the Zscaler cloud over IPsec tunnels.

With the Talari E50 SD-WAN appliance, a managed service provider or IT team can preconfigure the appliance, which can then be shipped to the site and set up. According to Talari, this capability benefits customers with limited IT staff and resources. 

Talari offers a range of SD-WAN appliances for large data centers and offices to call centers and SMBs.

Cradlepoint expands to subscription-based networking packages

Cradlepoint introduced subscription-based packages for its branch, mobile and internet-of-things networking services.

Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Solution Packages, available now, are tailored to specific markets in an attempt to simplify deployment and management, according to a Cradlepoint statement. Customers can purchase a Cradlepoint package as a subscription service on a one-, three- or five-year basis.

One of the first available subscription-based packages is Cradlepoint’s wireless branch networking offering. Cradlepoint said its new AER2200 edge router can replace multiple boxes by converging multiple functions and support into the single router. The router supports 10 switched Ethernet ports, and it supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with a guest portal and advanced Long Term Evolution integration. The package also comes with the new AP22 access point to expand wireless LAN coverage. Additionally, Cradlepoint’s branch subscription service offers 4G LTE and wireless LAN support with its SD-WAN functionality, fine-tuned for customers with smaller networks.

“Instead of navigating a myriad of separately priced software, hardware and support options, just two or three SKUs deliver a compete wireless branch solution with the cloud management and support customers need to be deployed and operational quickly and easily,” said Ian Pennell, chief product officer at Cradlepoint, based in Boise, Idaho, in a statement.

Verizon joins ONAP

Verizon joined the Open Network Automation Platform, a project hosted by The Linux Foundation.

Verizon said its work with ONAP will concentrate on network function onboarding, network management, service creation, provisioning and standards for consistent deployment.

In November, ONAP introduced its first code, dubbed Amsterdam, which offers a modular automation platform for service providers and carriers focused on service delivery. ONAP architecture contains a good portion of code from AT&T’s Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy architecture and the Open-Orchestrator project.

ONAP expects to release its second code, Beijing, in 2018. While the Amsterdam code aimed to improve service lifecycle automation and management for service providers, Beijing will target enterprise workloads, wireless 5G and the internet of things.

Zayo SD-WAN available as a managed or on-premises product

Zayo Group Holdings Inc., a bandwidth infrastructure provider in the U.S. and Europe, is offering SD-WAN as a managed or do-it-yourself product.

The technology, launched this week, lets companies distribute network traffic across MPLS, broadband and Long Term Evolution connections. The product is an extension of Zayo’s fiber-based IP/MPLS backbone offerings for enterprises.

Zayo, based in Boulder, Colo., provides an online portal that companies can use to monitor and modify traffic flows down to the application level. Customers have the option of outsourcing network management to Zayo.

In general, SD-WAN uses software-defined networking concepts to automatically determine the most cost-effective route to and from branch offices, data centers and cloud-based applications. Network operators manage the SD-WAN through a centralized controller.

Zayo’s metro networks

Zayo has a 126,000-mile network that provides metro connectivity to buildings and data centers. The company offers high-capacity dark fiber, Ethernet and other connectivity options, as well as carrier-neutral colocation and cloud infrastructure services in its data centers.

Zayo’s latest product launch was expected. Last November, the company told financial analysts it planned to launch an SD-WAN offering in the first quarter of 2018, according to transcripts from the business site Seeking Alpha.

Zayo is entering a consolidating market of more than 40 vendors. Last year, VMware announced plans to acquire SD-WAN vendor VeloCloud, roughly three months after Cisco completed the purchase of Viptela for $610 million. VMware expects to complete the transaction next month.

The market for SD-WAN technology, infrastructure and services will reach $6 billion by 2020, according to IDC. The research firm expects service providers to account for more than half of the market.

Most of Zayo’s network is located in North America. The company, however, has increased its footprint in the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2014, Zayo acquired Geo Networks, based in London, for an undisclosed sum. Geo provided dark fiber and open-access networks.

Aerohive cloud to combine Wi-Fi and SD-WAN

Aerohive Networks, a cloud-controlled wireless LAN provider, plans to launch in January an SD-WAN product aimed at retail chains, healthcare providers and other organizations with a large number of small- to midsize branch offices.

Aerohive, which announced its intentions this week, said it would combine the SD-WAN offering with its existing WLAN products. In a single Aerohive cloud-managed product, the union would deliver a Wi-Fi network, a Layer 3 VPN gateway and a router called the XR200P.

Aerohive needs the above combination to stay even with its largest competitor, Cisco. The latter’s Meraki brand, which competes head-to-head with Aerohive, is already used as a “low-end” SD-WAN, said John Burke, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. Service providers, such as Comcast, also offer SD-WAN with Wi-Fi.

“Adding SD-WAN functionality to the portfolio is a very good idea,” Burke said of Aerohive.

Aerohive’s SD-WAN features are similar to what’s already available from other vendors. Companies, for example, can choose the path traffic takes according to the originating application. Options include steering packets to the corporate VPN, to a whitelisted software as a service or to a cloud security gateway for further examination.

Aerohive cloud features

Other Aerohive cloud-provided features include the following:

  • link-state monitoring and automated remediation when a connection fails;
  • the ability to set security based on user group and the client OS, MAC address and location;
  • automated provisioning of SD-WAN routers installed at locations; and
  • network troubleshooting tools and reporting on links and connected network devices, VPN tunnel latency, throughput and uptime metrics.

Aerohive’s highest selling point is a single management console for SD-WAN and Wi-Fi, said Craig Mathias, an analyst for wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group, based in Ashland, Mass.

“The potential for cost savings is enhanced via improved visibility, reliability and operations-staff productivity,” he said.

Nevertheless, Aerohive will enter a market with more than three dozen competitors. Consolidation is underway, as large vendors add SD-WAN to their portfolios to tap into a fast-growing market. This year’s examples include Cisco acquiring Viptela and VMware announcing plans to swallow VeloCloud.

Over the next four years, SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow 69.6% annually, reaching $8.05 billion in 2021, according to IDC.

VeloCloud SD-WAN made more responsive to network troubles

VeloCloud Networks Inc. has added to its SD-WAN software policy options that make the technology more responsive to network problems that could affect application performance in branch and remote offices.

The enhancements, introduced this week, are delivered through software upgrades to the company’s cloud-based orchestrator and gateway and the VeloCloud SD-WAN appliance deployed at the branch and data center.

In general, VeloCloud’s technology lets companies combine T1 lines, MPLS links and other enterprise network connections with cheaper broadband, DSL and 4G consumer links. The subscription-based SD-WAN provides continuous monitoring, packet-by-packet traffic steering and link remediation to maintain network performance and reliability.

The new 3.1 version lets companies dedicate segments of the network for specific traffic, such as VoIP, a guest Wi-Fi or sensitive credit-card data heading from a retail store to the corporate data center. Organizations can set policies that provide multiple paths for a traffic flow. If performance for a connection falters, the VeloCloud SD-WAN will steer packets elsewhere to maintain a user-defined quality of service.

The on-the-fly correction is targeted at performance-sensitive applications, such as VoIP. “Not only can you set things up quickly, but once you set it up, the network will adjust,” said Bob Laliberte, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, based in Milford, Mass.

Other improvements include a more straightforward process for setting up an IPsec VPN between a VeloCloud SD-WAN and a non-VeloCloud location. Customers can also use the vendor’s orchestration software to deploy security services from VeloCloud partners and to apply group profiles when adding VeloCloud Edge appliances.

In April, VeloCloud introduced a partner program that lets third-party security vendors integrate their products with the SD-WAN service. Partners include Check Point Software Technologies, Fortinet, IBM, Palo Alto Networks and Zscaler.

VeloCloud claims outcome-driven networking in SD-WAN

VeloCloud is marketing its latest upgrade as “outcome-driven networking,” a term not widely used in the industry. Instead, networking vendors and some analyst firms are pushing an approach called “intent-based networking,” which uses GUI-based tools to abstract the many complicated technical steps underpinning the delivery of services.

Earlier this month, virtualization vendor VMware announced plans to acquire VeloCloud for an undisclosed sum. If completed in early February as planned, the acquisition would place VMware in head-to-head competition with Cisco in the branch office. In August, Cisco acquired VeloCloud rival Viptela for $610 million.

Versa SD-WAN gets features focused on voice, video calling

Versa Networks has added to its SD-WAN product capabilities the vendor claims will help organizations maintain the quality of video and voice calling in the branch office.

The company introduced this week Versa SD-WAN technology that formulates a mean opinion score (MOS) for communication traffic and lets network engineers set policies that trigger specific actions if the score falls below a baseline. MOS is a number from one to five that indicates the voice or video quality at the destination end of the circuit. Satisfactory voice calls, for example, are typically in the 3.5 to 4.2 range.

Versa has developed algorithms that determine the MOS of each call based on metrics extrapolated from Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) and Real-Time Transport Control Protocol (RTCP) traffic flows. RTP combines its data transport with the RTCP. The latter lets monitoring applications detect packet loss and compensate for delays that lead to jitter.

Other factors used to reach a mean opinion score are the codecs used in a company’s voice over IP and video conferencing application. In general, codecs compress digital data to move it faster over the network and then decompress it at the destination point. In doing its work, however, a codec causes some degradation in quality.

Network engineers can set policies that tell the Versa SD-WAN to take specific actions when the MOS is too low. Those steps could include changing the transport of the data flow, moving other traffic off the route to increase available bandwidth and cloning the communication traffic so it can be sent across multiple circuits.

Analysts split on value of MOS in Versa SD-WAN

Other SD-WAN vendors, such as VeloCloud, which was recently acquired by VMware, also provide mechanisms for monitoring and taking corrective actions to help maintain voice and video quality. In general, most products take into account common network problems, such as the loss of packets or delay in their delivery.

“The added support [within Versa ] for real-time voice and video will help ensure good-quality communications are maintained,” said Mike Fratto, an analyst at Current Analysis, which is owned by London-based GlobalData.

Not all analysts, however, agreed that MOS scoring would improve voice and video calling.

“My guess is that this won’t improve calling all that much, because SD-WAN solutions are already looking at things like jitter, latency, etc., for voice traffic,” said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. “They also can’t deal with factors inside the LAN, such as poor Wi-Fi performance that can adversely impact call quality.”

At its core, SD-WAN lets engineers steer traffic across multiple links, such as MPLS, Long Term Evolution and broadband. The connections they choose depends on the needs of the applications generating the traffic. Companies can select MPLS for data that needs a high-level of reliability, while using cheaper broadband for less sensitive data flows.

Vendors have added WAN optimization, firewalls, routing and quality-of-service features for communications as differentiators and to demand higher prices for their SD-WAN platforms.

VeloCloud-VMware acquisition will battle Cisco in the branch

VMware plans to acquire SD-WAN vendor VeloCloud Networks, a move that would turn the branch office into a battleground for the virtualization provider and Cisco.

The VeloCloud-VMware acquisition, announced this week, would be carried out in early February. With VeloCloud, VMware would go head-to-head against Cisco’s Viptela, IWAN and Meraki brands. SD-WAN, in general, intelligently routes branch traffic across multiple links, such as broadband, MPLS and LTE.

“This is the first time that Cisco and VMware will directly compete in the networking world,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, based in Boulder, Colo.

Before, the closest Cisco and VMware came to competing in networking was with their software-defined networking platforms ACI and NSX, respectively. The products, however, serve mostly different purposes in the data center. NSX provisions network services within VMware’s virtualized computing environments while ACI distributes application-centric policies to Cisco switches.

VMware SDN marches to the branch

The VeloCloud-VMware acquisition, however, marks the start of taking NSX to the branch, where Cisco is already offering ACI. Both vendors are also working on extending their respective SDN platforms to enterprise software running on public clouds.

In the branch, VMware plans to provide SD-WAN, security, routing and other services on an NSX-based network overlay that’s hardware agnostic. Rather than supply branch appliances for VeloCloud software, VMware wants customers to buy certified hardware from different vendors.

This is the first time that Cisco and VMware will directly compete in the networking world.
Shamus McGillicuddyanalyst, Enterprise Management Associates

“That is certainly our longer-term vision for this. That it will be a pure software play,” said Rajiv Ramaswami, COO of cloud services at VMware, during a conference call with reporters and analysts.

In the short term, VMware would support appliances sold by VeloCloud, Ramaswami said. VMware’s parent company, Dell EMC, also sells hardware for VeloCloud software.

While VMware shies away from hardware, Cisco has delivered centralized software that provisions network services to the branch through a new line of routers, called the Catalyst 9000s. In the future, Cisco could also provide a software-only option through the Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization platform (ENFV)  the company introduced last year. ENFV would run on Cisco servers or third-party certified hardware.

“Cisco is making multiple bets in SD-WAN,” McGillicuddy said.

Cloud orchestration a key piece of VeloCloud-VMware acquisition

VMware is banking on VeloCloud’s cloud-based network orchestration tools to evolve into a significant differentiator from Cisco and other WAN infrastructure providers. VMware could eventually use the technology to orchestrate network services in the branch and the cloud, Ramaswami said.

VMware’s ambitions do not alter the fact that it has a difficult road ahead battling Cisco. The latter company dominates the networking market with more than 150,000 paying customers for its WAN products, according to Gartner. VMware is the largest supplier of data center virtualization, but is a newbie in networking.

VeloCloud’s roughly 1,000 customers include service providers, as well as enterprises. AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Vonage and Windstream are examples of carriers that offer the company’s SD-WAN product as a service.

VMware sells network virtualization software to service providers and expects VeloCloud to help grow that relatively small business. “VeloCloud and their deep relationship with the service provider community is a huge route to a market accelerator,” said Peder Ulander, a vice president of strategy at VMware.

VMware did not release financial details of the acquisition.