In 2017, Cisco completed Viptela acquisition. It is not a surprise for me that Gartner published Cisco as the Leader in WAN Edge Infrastructure in 2018.
This is Gartner’s famous Magic Quadrant report. I wrote a post for Silverpeak before. Silverpeak is listed in the Leaders category.
Three vendors presented their solutions and I thought it is important to cover those three vendors first. Riverbed, Silverpeak and Cisco joined Network Field Day. Though Riverbed is not one of the leaders, it is listed in the challengers category, I will publish soon about my thoughts on Riverbed SD-WAN solution as well.
When I publish Riverbeds post too, we will be able to compare all of them from the SD-WAN capabilities point of view. But probably I should cover the VMware (Velocloud SD-WAN solution) as well, so it a better comparison can be done. As you can see from the above picture, VMware is one of the leaders in the Magic Quadrant.
Before I start to introduce some important news for Cisco’s SD-WAN flagship solution(Viptela), let me share you a picture that Cisco shared recently.
The following picture was taken during their Viptela Presentation at Network Field Day,2018. I am sure I will be joining more SD-WAN presentation in 2019 worldwide, as SD-WAN is the next big think alongside with Intent Based Networking.
I shared this picture not because I was happy to see myself on the homepage of cisco.com or my company logo is seen on my laptop, but in the picture it says: “Cisco uses the power of SD-WAN directly on IOS”
This is a very true statement and probably will be a winning point for Cisco in the SD-WAN race, because with simple software upgrades you will be able to get the advantages of SD-WAN on Cisco devices.
There are millions of IOS based devices deployed worldwide. Without purchasing new edge devices and just by upgrading the software, companies can start taking the advantages such as Traffic Engineering , centralized WAN management and near ZTP (Zero touch provisioning) of Cisco’s SD-WAN solution.
There are more than 50 SD-WAN vendors out there. There are small differences between them. But a huge difference between Cisco and all the other vendors is the number of IOS based routers deployed Worldwide.
As I mentioned above, from the capability wise, there are small differences between the main SD-WAN vendors.
- Dynamic Path Switching
- Per Flow Load Balancing
- Per packet Load Balancing
- Zero Touch Provisioning
- Auto Detect Applications
- Management and Reporting
- Segmentation (Multiple overlay support)
- FEC (Forward Error Control) and last but not least ECMP (Equal Cost Multipath) support are common requirements from the SD-WAN vendors and one way or another they support these features.
Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an important comparison factor by the Enterprises when it comes to deploying SD-WAN. When the number of locations of the Enterprise are too much, reducing the deployment cost per location is key. If the Enterprise is Cisco shop, having SD-WAN features on the IOS routers is just a software upgrade.
But feature parity between the Viptela vEdge (Viptela’s SD-WAN CPE) and the software upgraded IOS routers is not exactly the same at the current state as per my notes that I took during the Network Field Day. This can be a disadvantage for your network if you require the features that Viptela provides.
Thus, it is important to evaluate:
- What are the important features which you may need in your network,
- Are they supported with the IOS software upgrade if you have Cisco devices on your WAN,
- If you don’t have Cisco routers how much it would cost to buy Cisco IOS routers and upgrading to the SD-WAN software
- How much would it cost to buy Cisco Viptela CPEs as an edge devices, if you don’t buy a router.
Enterprises should evaluate all these factors.
Another disadvantage for Cisco’s Viptela solution probably is that it is not providing a single pane of glass management panel. The entire solution comes with four different components.
- vManage Network Management System (NMS)—The vManage NMS is a centralized network management system that lets you configure and manage the entire overlay network from a simple graphical dashboard.
- vSmart Controller—The vSmart controller is the centralized brain of the Viptela solution, controlling the flow of data traffic throughout the network. The vSmart controller works with the vBond orchestrator to authenticate Viptela devices as they join the network and to orchestrate connectivity among the vEdge routers.
- vBond Orchestrator—The vBond orchestrator automatically orchestrates connectivity between vEdge routers and vSmart controllers. If any vEdge router or vSmart controller is behind a NAT, the vBond orchestrator also serves as an initial NAT-traversal orchestrator.
- vEdge Routers—The vEdge routers sit at the perimeter of a site (such as remote offices, branches, campuses, data centers) and provide connectivity among the sites. They are either hardware devices or software, called a vEdge Cloud router, that runs as a virtual machine. vEdge routers handle the transmission of data traffic.
Many other vendors come with two components. Edge routers (CPE devices) and the Controller , which provides NMS as well as Orchestration functions. This seems to be more complex, but provides advanced monitoring , statistics and reporting capabilities. Cisco told me that was necessary when I commented this during their presentation.
I prefer simplicity and would like to see less components if it is possible..
Also, I should mention that many network engineers are familiar with Cisco IOS software. For them adapting to SD-WAN related features and managing the network via Cisco IOS software doesn’t change the Enterprises operational model.
With the other vendors, there might be a learning curve, which increases the total cost of ownership of the solution.
As a summary, Cisco’s Viptela acquisition was an excellent decision. Having the SD-WAN features by embedding Viptela capabilities to the Cisco IOS software saves the investment of thousands of Enterprises, thus Cisco will continue to be one of the leaders in SD-WAN space for many years.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. These are my thoughts only and we clearly state on the title if a post is a Sponsored Post.