SD-WAN Vision vs. Acquisition

SD-WAN Vision vs. Acquisition

The migration of applications to the cloud is motivating enterprises to rethink how they architect their WANs, and this, in turn, has created the SD-WAN market category. The recent acquisition of VeloCloud by VMware, and of Viptela by Cisco earlier in the year, represent attempts by two of the bigger players in IT to stake a claim in this fast-growing new market.

While it’s convenient to place products into categories, like SD-WAN, the truth is, there are a wide variety of approaches to SD-WAN, each focused on a different use case or customer base. It was not unexpected to see Cisco go for Viptela. Of all the SD-WAN solutions, Viptela is arguably the one which most closely emulates a traditional router, including conventional device-by-device CLI based configuration, with a limited amount of central orchestration. It certainly represents the least disruptive approach for Cisco, and gives them an angle to extend the life of the old Swiss army knife known as the ISR.

Architecturally, VeloCloud is different from most SD-WAN solutions, relying on a hub-centric rather than edge-driven architecture, where traffic between enterprise locations takes one or two transit hub hops inside the WAN, rather than travel directly from edge to edge. This approach has found affinity with some service providers, particularly in support of SMB voice over broadband services, or as a broadband x“on-ramp” to a traditional MPLS service. It remains to be seen how VMware integrates this technology into their offerings over the coming years.

At Silver Peak, we are focused on SD-WAN as an enabling technology for the new WAN edge, where traditional routers can be replaced in favor of a simpler, centrally orchestrated “thin branch” architecture. Ultimately, enterprises are looking for a comprehensive, integrated branch offering that seamlessly couples SD-WAN features with WAN optimization and advanced security features in support of local internet break-out. And, as I’ve talked about in my previous blogs, at Silver Peak we are innovating beyond the “software defined” WAN, to implement the “self-driving” WAN. A simple GUI captures a description of the service objectives or intent for each application class. From there, the orchestrator and edge elements act in tandem to dynamically deliver the QOS (yes, even over broadband), improved availability and throughput that each application requires, all without any need to even think about configuring individual routers or edge devices.

As market consolidation continues, it places Silver Peak in a great position – the clear independent leader in the market – and the only one with a comprehensive edge architecture focused on the enterprise. In the two years since we launched our Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution, over 500 customers have selected and deployed Silver Peak. In doing so, we’ve learned a lot and we’re embedding that learning into the solution, benefitting both our current and future customers.

About the author
David Hughes
David Hughes
David Hughes founded Silver Peak Systems in 2004 after serving a year as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital. Through 2013 Hughes drove innovation serving as CTO, and then more recently as CEO, leading Silver Peak beyond WAN optimization into the emerging SD-WAN market. Prior to Silver Peak, Hughes served as vice president and general manager at BlueLeaf Networks (2000-2002), where his team developed a unique network switching and transmission system. From 1996 to 2000, Hughes held several positions at Cisco Systems, including director of system architecture for the BPX and MGX product lines, and senior director of product management for the Multi-Service Switching Business Unit. Earlier, Hughes was a key engineering contributor at StrataCom, an early pioneer in frame relay and ATM, which was acquired by Cisco in 1996. Before StrataCom, David worked as an engineer for BNR Japan/Northern Telecom Japan Inc. Hughes has been awarded more than 50 patents in areas including data acceleration, routing and packet switching, control and scheduling algorithms. Hughes earned his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Wollongong University, Australia, and holds a BE in Electrical Engineering from Auckland University, New Zealand.