Cisco Closes Viptela Acquisition To Accelerate Its Network Intuitive Vision

Cisco completed its $610 million acquisition of software-defined WAN specialist Viptela on Tuesday, accelerating the networking giant's Network Intuitive strategy.

"The intuitive network is an intelligent, highly secure platform — powered by intent and informed by context and Viptela's solution is perfectly aligned with that vision," said Scott Harrell, senior vice president of Product Management for Cisco's Enterprise Networking Group, in a blog post on Tuesday. "The Viptela team will be joining our enterprise networking engineering and sales teams to begin extending Cisco's vision for intent-based networking across the WAN, campus, and branch."

In June, Cisco unveiled what CEO Chuck Robbins called "the new network" – an intent-based intuitive networking system that anticipates actions, stops security threats and continues to evolve and learn.

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"I really believe we are redefining the network for the next 30 years," said Robbins during the product launch event in June. "In my 20 years at Cisco, I have never been more excited about our innovation than I am about what we’re delivering today … We truly are building the network of the future."

The Network Intuitive consists of several new technologies including a line of Catalyst switches, a revamped IOS software for the digital age as well as security and analytics offerings.

Following the close of Viptela on Tuesday, Harrell said the SD-WAN vendor will help Cisco change "the fundamental blueprint for networking with re-imagined hardware and the most advanced software." Viptela fits into Cisco's strategic transition towards a software-centric, subscription-led networking model, he added.

More than 75 leading global enterprises and organizations have already been conducting early field trials with Cisco's Network Intuitive solutions, including DB Systel GmbH, Jade University of Applied Sciences, NASA, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Scentsy, UZ Leuven and Wipro.

Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based Cisco partner, said the subscription-based Network Intuitive platform will speed up network operations, enhance security and better automate provisioning and configuration tasks for its customers.

"This opens up a lot of opportunities for us around life cycle adoption, software sales and around managed services," said MacDonald. "I'm very optimistic of what Viptela is now bringing to the table in a market that's seems to keep growing and expanding."

Research firm IDC estimates that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will grow 70 percent annually for the next four years, reaching more than $8 billion in 2021.

Viptela provides SD-WAN technology to several Fortune 500 companies and carriers like Verizon. Its offerings include the vSmart Cloud-based SDN-WAN Controller to centrally manage routing, policy, security, segmentation and authentication of devices; vManage Network Management System for centralized configuration and management; and vEdge routers.

Some SD-WAN competitors, like startup CloudGenix, aren't so sure about Cisco's ability to capitalize on Viptela's technology. CloudGenix CEO Kumar Ramachandran said Cisco's acquisition of Viptela was a move to buy competitive market share and doesn't add much value Cisco's SD-WAN strategy.

"I know Cisco is trying to market [Viptela] as cloud-first, but the reality is that all their solutions need, not just the device at the branch, but also a device at either in the point-of-presence, in a cloud, or somewhere else, to load balance traffic that is destined to the cloud across multiple paths," said Ramachandra, in an recent interview with CRN. "The Cisco acquisition of Viptela does two things simultaneously. One is, it gives great clarity to the market. And two, it confused the heck out of Cisco customers."

Harrell said Cisco will incorporate Viptela's technology in its popular ISR and ASR routers, while also accelerating the standalone roadmap for Viptela's vEdge routers and SD-WAN solution.

"We're helping our customers be successful with their digital transformation and Cisco’s next-generation SD-WAN solutions will play a key role in making that vision a reality," said Harrell.