Verizon And Cisco Unveil Joint SD-WAN Offering

Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Cisco Systems are offering a joint software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) service for enterprise customers. The offering combines Verizon's IT consulting services and Cisco's Intelligent WAN (IWAN) networking technology products.

SD-WAN allows businesses to take advantage of both private links -- like MPLS -- and public Internet links interchangeably to run their traffic. SD-WAN adds a layer of intelligence that can identify what kind of traffic is being generated by users and route the traffic over the most appropriate path in real time. For example, SD-WAN can route business application traffic over MPLS links to ensure a reliable, high-quality connection, and less critical traffic -- like web browsing over the Internet.

Hybrid WAN solutions, or offerings that combine a variety of paths, can help businesses save money while still ensuring performance and security for their network traffic. This is especially attractive to businesses as applications move out of their data centers and into the cloud. As a result, partners are seeing increased demand for hybrid WAN solutions from their customers, according to BCM One, a New York-based solution provider and Verizon partner.

[Related: VeloCloud CEO: SD-WAN Is Making 'The Cloud The New Network']

Sponsored post

BCM One said it has somewhat limited hybrid WAN offerings available for its customers today, but believes adding an SDN offering to its portfolio would be a strong revenue source for the company. "It would enable us to upsell our existing hybrid WAN solutions, provide an easier solution for our traditional WAN clients to migrate toward hybrid WAN, and provide an enabling technology for our clients looking to migrate towards the cloud," said Geoff Bloss, CIO of BCM One.

SD-WAN would help provide a more cost-effective and seamless experience between endpoints -- like desktops, mobile devices and even wearables -- and the applications users need to reach, Bloss said. The intelligence at the edge of the network can determine the most appropriate path based on the user, endpoint, the application being accessed and path availability at the moment.

"[Customers'] bandwidth budgets remain relatively flat and they need cost-effective solutions that combine multiple transport paths to solve performance challenges," he said.

The new SD-WAN offering from Verizon and Cisco combines Cisco's IWAN technology with Verizon's updated internal management platform. The platform now uses IWAN's exposed programmable interfaces that allow Verizon to manage networks at the application layer, rather than just managing the circuits.

SD-WAN sets up intelligence at the edge of the network that is independent of the implementation of the underlying network. It allows for the right connection to be chosen based on the security or reliability needs of the application, instead of being governed by the location of the user.

Application routes can be set by policies determined by enterprise network administrators. Application routes can also dynamically change in real time along with shifting network conditions, said Shawn Hakl, vice president of enterprise networking and innovation for Verizon.

"We jointly launched SD-WAN because it solves an immediate, real problem for our customers. But beyond the technology, we have Verizon teams available to help implement and configure the technology to help marry up the network and application performance, and [Verizon] is able to manage the network on the customer's behalf," Hakl said.

Verizon is the first service provider that Cisco has teamed up with to deliver SD-WAN. Because the partnership between Cisco and Verizon couples networking technology with know-how, the offering will help drive adoption for SD-WAN, said Jason Rolleston, senior director of product management for enterprise networking at Cisco.

"We see a lot of people interested in moving in this direction and are trying to find a way to get the benefits of SD-WAN. Some [customers] are really looking for a trusted partner -- someone who really has the expertise and skills to help them implement this technology," Rolleston said.

BCM One's hybrid WAN solutions today combine dedicated WAN connectivity, MPLS, with secondary and tertiary network paths, such as dedicated Internet access or peer-to-peer connectivity, Bloss said. But these solutions typically require a significant amount of engineering on the client border devices to blend the individual network paths into a hybrid offering.

"Our need is for some layer of intelligence at the client border that simplifies the management of the hybrid network, makes it more dynamic and responsive to changes in the network [and] application layer, and eases the ongoing cost of management," Bloss said.

Bloss hopes that the joint Verizon/Cisco SD-WAN offering can address the shortfalls in BCM's current hybrid WAN solutions, he said. "It would definitely be an interesting product to add to our portfolio."

Verizon and Cisco will jointly market and sell the service to their enterprise customer bases in the U.S. this month. While the companies are selling this service through Verizon's managed services arm, they anticipate launching it through partners on a partner-by-partner basis, Verizon's Hakl said.