Cisco SD-WAN ‘Turbocharges’ Microsoft Office, Azure Environments

Cisco is extending its SD-WAN technology deeper into Microsoft Azure and Office 365 environments to improve user experiences, according to the two tech giants.


Cisco Systems is now letting customers further extend their WANs to Microsoft Azure Cloud, while adding more application experience metrics for better Office 365 experiences, according to the two tech behemoths during the week of Microsoft‘s Ignite 2020 virtual conference.

The announcements this week build on Cisco‘s existing partnership with Microsoft that improved network connectivity to Office 365 applications by connecting Cisco SD-WAN with Office 365 by up to 40 percent, Cisco said.

One of the latest updates will directly add Cisco‘s SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to Microsoft Azure Virtual WAN, allowing customers to extend Cisco SD-WAN to their Microsoft Azure Cloud and access Azure enterprise workloads with little or no additional configuration.

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“I‘m thrilled to see the evolution of the relationship with Cisco and Microsoft,” said Kent MacDonald, senior vice president of Strategic Alliances for Long View Systems, a solution provider that counts Cisco and Microsoft as its two biggest partners.

Long View Systems, a Calgary, Canada-based solution provider, has been using Cisco‘s software-defined networking and security architecture as a compliment to Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure environments. “To continue to see the lean-in on that partnership to give customers assured speed of experience while elevating the security of the experience, versus compromising security as others might, is fabulous,” MacDonald said.

In fact, Long View recently launched a suite of managed services called NextNet. The first of the services is a managed SD-WAN offering that‘s powered by Cisco SD-WAN, MacDonald said. “The [Cisco and Microsoft] partnership compliments the journey we‘ve been on,” he said. ”We saw the value in bringing those two worlds together -- [Cisco] SD-WAN turbocharges the experience in the cloud and we are looking forward to continued innovation.”

The Cloud OnRamp for IaaS feature of Cisco SD-WAN was first introduced in 2016. The “over the top” offering, however, didn‘t have didn’t have the ability to automatically connect to other networking gateways and routers within the Virtual WAN hubs to simplify cloud deployments, said Ian MacLaughlin, product manager, SD-WAN, for Cisco, in a blog post.

Cisco and Microsoft‘s virtual WAN integration has evolved, MacLaughlin said.

“Leveraging Azure Virtual WAN in this manner means that users of Cisco SD-WAN can benefit from enhanced WAN performance without sacrificing security, which is always of utmost concern, especially at the intersection of the cloud and the network,” he said.

The public preview for the Cisco SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp and Microsoft Azure Virtual WAN begins on Sept. 21, the company said.

San Jose, Calif.-based company revealed a similar SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp integration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) earlier in September.

On the Cisco Cloud OnRamp for SaaS side, the two companies on Wednesday introduced new features to deepen the integration between Cisco SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp for SaaS and Microsoft 365.

The new URL categorization feature, which is available via Cisco SD-WAN’s 17.3 software release, allows customers to create separate policies around specific types of Microsoft 365 application traffic, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Video, and Outlook traffic. Cisco is also introducing Informed Network Routing for specific application and user experience metrics. These updates will give users deeper abilities to manage and route traffic within Microsoft 365 will improve speed, efficiency, and performance across the entire suite of applications, according to Cisco‘s MacLaughlin.