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Dell EMC Launches 'Open' Virtual Networking Platform For VeloCloud, Silver Peak, Versa In Bid To Outflank Cisco In SD-WAN Market

The Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform [VEP] is an x86-based, universal virtual networking CPE that Dell EMC executives say can be sold to enterprises adopting SD-WAN, and as a clear alternative to buying more expensive, proprietary Cisco routers.

Dell EMC is doubling down on its commitment to open networking and intensifying its battle with Cisco Systems with the launch of a platform designed to work with SD-WAN solutions from not only with VMware's VeloCloud, but solutions from market powers Silver Peak and Versa Networks, as well.

The Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform [VEP] is an x86-based, universal virtual networking CPE that Dell EMC executives say can be sold to enterprises adopting SD-WAN, and as a clear alternative to buying more expensive, proprietary Cisco routers.

"The way networking has grown-up is by monetizing the ASICs they've developed, and that's not this model," said Jeff Baher, Dell EMC senior director of product and technical marketing. "That's why it becomes more challenging for existing suppliers. You don't have to ditch those [legacy] routers, but they're not going to be the routers you want to use for this. Keep it for the private wide area, and you can front-end it with this."

[Related: Cisco Rolls Out Viptela, Meraki-Based WAN Monitoring Solutions To Help Partners Capture Managed SD-WAN Opportunities]

Dell EMC says the VEP 4600 is the first SD-WAN solution to use Intel's new Xeon D-2100 processor to connect the edge to the cloud via a CPE. Dell EMC has validated three SD-WAN solutions on the platform: VMware's VeloCloud, Silver Peak Systems and Versa Networks.

Baher said the platform continues Dell EMC's drive to differentiate its open approach to networking from the proprietary approach taken by market leader Cisco Systems, even as the battle for dominance of the red-hot SD-WAN market intensifies.

Cisco acquired SD-WAN firm Viptela a little more than six months ago. Dell Technologies' VMware business closed its acquisition of SD-WAN market leader VeloCloud last December.

"One approach says you can do it if you buy all of my stuff, all of my hardware and all of my software," Baher said. "Ours is a little bit different. You're making investments at the infrastructure level independent from your software. You can stay within the Dell Technologies family for a long way, or you can decide at different points to disaggregate and introduce capabilities from the ecosystem. The battle for the enterprise is ultimately through a software lens, both in the way you see it and the way you program it. It's a software play, and the question is do you want that inextricably tied to the hardware, or do you want to have some ability to mix and match?"

The VEP 4600 begins shipping in late April and is priced at $1,500 in the U.S.

An executive at a large solution provider that does business with both VMware and Cisco said it's difficult to determine clear-cut winners in the SD-WAN market, and this move by Dell EMC won't make it any easier.

"It's interesting that they're going to market with Silver Peak and Versa and VeloCloud," the executive said. "As far as competitiveness with Viptela, each of those three flavors would have a different comparison. Viptela offers both physical and virtual approaches, and it has deeper routing capabilities. It benefits from the integration with Cisco's [branch] routers and [aggregation services] routers."

The executive said he considers Silver Peak the closest competitor to the Cisco/Viptela solution because of its strong WAN optimization capabilities. "VeloCloud has historically focused more down-market, but we expect that to improve post-acquisition."

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