September 1, 2015

Who Has the Best WAN Solution? Getting to Specifics

This is a continuation of our first discussion of WAN solutions.  While the prior answers are quite informative, it's time to get down to the proverbial "brass tacks."

What are the two or three characteristics that best distinguish your WAN solution from others that are available in the market? Please be as specific as possible.

Readers are encouraged to join the discussion below by clicking on the "Reply" link at the end of any comment.  For background, please see The 2015 Guide to WAN Architecture and Design.


Three major factors differentiate Viptela on SD-WAN:
1. Most market traction. The largest SD-WAN deployments have happened using Viptela - about 15 Fortune-500 customers. Currently replacing WAN infrastructure at 1400-sites of a large retailer, 200 sites completed and rolling out about 20 per night. Next, two of the top-10 carriers, Verizon and Singtel, deploy their SD-WAN solution on Viptela (the other eight have not yet announced an offering).
2. The most comprehensive integration of routing, security, segmentation and policy.
3. Operational simplicity arising from having a unified hybrid WAN solution that's centrally administered. Note, we integrate with other routing solutions, but our success comes from being able to be the ONLY WAN solution at a site.

1. Business Intent Overlays - Intelligently segment the WAN, ensuring specific applications meet stringent requirements. These hardened overlays scale to thousands of locations, abstracting the underlying infrastructure into a unified management plane. The overlays facilitate optimal treatment for application classes such as voice/video, cloud (such as Office 365 or Salesforce), or in-house applications, such as CRM/ERP.
2. Dynamic Path Control - A packet-based dynamic path selection engine (called Dynamic Path Control or DPC) uses path conditioning (forward error correction and real-time packet order correction) in bonded tunnels that can form either a zero-loss “super pipe” resulting in glitch-free voice and video, or a higher-throughput “fat pipe” that aggregates the capacity of the underlying transport. These options are selectable per business intent overlay, and are included in the base product; additional performance benefits may optionally be added to provide application acceleration and deduplication/compression.
3. Proven WAN Expertise - Our Unity Orchestrator SD-WAN controller and the Unity EdgeConnect appliances (both physical and virtual) incorporate the intelligence of 10+ years of centrally controlled, tunnel-based WAN overlay deployments for thousands of customers, and proven expertise in delivering the most-scalable WAN solutions.

Cisco consistently delivers technology and products that provide the best mix of performance, value, and industry leadership to our customers, backed with the best support services in the industry. The three characteristics below best distinguish Cisco IWAN from other WAN solutions in the market:

  1. A complete and consolidated branch solution: Cisco IWAN integrates routing, computing and storage, unified communications, survivable remote telephony, full-featured WAN optimization with Cisco WAAS (Wide Area Application Services), AVC (Application Visibility and Control), PfR (Performance Routing), and seamless services with QoS (Quality of Service). With these features, flexibility for enterprise video and voice support, and application awareness capabilities, IWAN helps lower WAN and operational costs with a unified architecture that is easily scalable and deployed.
  2. An SDN-ready branch solution to automate the WAN: Cisco’s SDN solution is built on a common ACI (application centric infrastructure) architecture. With Cisco’s APIC-EM (Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module), businesses can unify application policy across the branch, WAN, and campus under a single umbrella with centralized automation and programmable control. While IWAN centralizes for simplicity and agility, it can also decentralize or distribute for performance and scale. Customers can accelerate the deployment of their intelligent WAN and services and easily align WAN technologies with business priorities based on user and application policies.
  3. Broad and deep branch security: Cisco IWAN integrates one of the industry’s most advanced threat protection portfolios into the branch to deliver high performance with high security. Our threat-centric approach to security reduces complexity while providing unmatched visibility. It provides consistent control and advanced threat protection across the entire attach continuum, delivering all of the pieces necessary to protect the business before, during, and after an attack. We provide the comprehensive protection needed to enable secure DIA (Direct Internet Access) using Cisco CWS (Cloud Web Security), IPS (Intrusion Prevention System), context-aware firewalling, and other integrated solutions to protect all branch endpoints and enable centralized security policy management.

End-to-end coverage

In todays ‘Cloud IT’ environment it’s important to look holistically at the networking needs of the business.

The Nuage Networks SDN solution provides uniform policy from inside the data center to the branch. We have developed the solution (Virtualized Services Platform) with feature sets tailored for each area of the network, in the case of the WAN that’s the Virtualized Network Services (VNS).
VNS provides the SDWAN functionality to significantly improve the responsiveness of the wide area and if the customer has deployed Nuage Networks in their data centers then they gain from the added benefit of a consistent policy framework right from the hypervisor to the branch.

We call this networking on your terms and it’s this comprehensive solution value that’s resonating with customers. Some choose to start in the data center, others are beginning from the WAN but in both cases they have the piece of mind that they can seamlessly extend one SDN across their complete IT environment.

Freedom at the branch

The Nuage Networks VNS solution is based on open compute so can be deployed on leading architectures such as x86. This gives customers the option to install the network intelligence on Nuage Networks provided hardware or as a software image, deployable on a bare metal server at the branch or even as a Virtual Machine.

This provides freedom on the deployment environment and opens the ability bring Cloud based locations seamlessly into the enterprise.
For instance a new ‘branch’ location could be virtual compute in the cloud, AWS as an example. You could deploy a virtualized NSG into AWS and add that site to the WAN with the same granular control (seamless policy framework) that you have with your more traditional physical branch locations.

Recently we took this idea of freedom at the branch to a new level. At Network Field Day 10 (NFD10 - August 2015) we announced the opening of ‘user space’ within the NSG software so customers can deploy their own applications right into the solution.

We based this on the leading Linux container framework Docker so instantly customers have access to the 100,000+ applications that have been developed within that open community.
The possibilities with this solution are virtually (pun intended) endless. You can run NetOps or DevOps tools right at the spot where your application users reside; measure the network performance as a simulated application user or deploy a business specific application; the choice is yours. To understand the impact this has on network managers, check out this blog written about the NFD10 session.

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