Cisco Network Leader On VMware-VeloCloud Acquisition: 'We're More Than Comfortable Going Head-To-Head'

Cisco Network and Security Executive Vice President David Goeckeler said the networking giant is not the least bit worried about the threat posed by VMware's acquisition of software-defined WAN specialist VeloCloud.

"We're more than comfortable going head-to-head on any particular point product, or any particular point architecture," said Goeckeler,who oversees Cisco's $32 billion networking and security business when questioned about the VeloCloud acquisition in an interview with CRN at the Cisco Partner Summit 2017.

"We have competitors all across the spectrum. … There's going to be different players with different strengths at different points in the network, but we are going to invest across bringing that whole architecture together. Because it's not just about what you do in the WAN -- it's how do you tie the WAN to the campus, how do you tie it to the wireless infrastructure," said Goeckeler.

[Related: VMware Inks Deal For SD-WAN Player VeloCloud]

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VMware announced Thursday morning that it was acquiring VeloCloud in move that builds on its NSX network virtualization platform and expands its networking portfolio into high-end automation, application continuity, branch transformation and security,

Goeckeler said Cisco's architectural approach of combining networking, security and analytics together with its intent-based Network Intuitive is a clear market differentiator when it comes to technology like SD-WAN."We're bringing all of this together in a united architecture that's enormously benefits partners and customers," he said.

In August, Cisco acquired SD-WAN specialist Viptela for $610 million in an effort to accelerate the company's Network Intuitive strategy across the WAN, campus and branch.

"We're leading with Viptela," said Goeckeler. "It's the SD-WAN solution from Cisco. Whatever a customer has in their network, we're going to drive all of this to a common solution -- whether you start with [Cisco's] iWAN [SD-WAN solution] or Viptela, it's all going to come together in a common integrated solution over the next couple of quarters."

Solution providers who partner with both Cisco and VMware said the VeloCloud acquisition- which includes a significant customer base including AT&T - is a "logical extension" to start doing SDN at the enterprise networking level.

"Overtime that's what people are going to be buying -- SD-WAN type services, we've seen a big uptick in our Cisco Meraki business which is ultimately an SD-WAN technology," said one CTO from a solution provider who partners with both Cisco and VMware, who declined to be named. "Obviously, Cisco sees that it's a critical piece and bought one of the leaders in Viptela. So now VMware entering the game isn't really a surprise. They aretrying to grow the business. I've heard good things of VeloCloud, so I'm interested in seeing the offer."

The CTO said the acquisition changes the character of VMware. "This is only a positive thing for VMware's growth as a company," he said. "There's no doubt that customers will eventually, once the dust has sort of settled, look more at VMware from an enterprise networking standpoint."

Another top executive from a solution provider who partners with both Cisco and VMware said he's placing his bets on Cisco-Viptela.

"Look, you don’t think Cisco looked at VeloCloud when deciding which SD-WAN player to buy 12 months ago? Of course they did, but they picked Viptela, so that says something," said the executive, who did not wish to be named. "We're going to go with Cisco here because I think their vision will bring more service opportunities and software or security extension opportunities."

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.