SD-WAN Channel Blitz: Cisco, CloudGenix, Silver Peak, VeloCloud, Talari And Versa Talk Differentiation

SD-WAN Market Leaders Sound Off

With the software-defined WAN market set to explode, market leaders are doubling down on innovation and channel enablement aimed at driving net new sales around SD-WAN.

Network leaders and startups alike are diving head first into the SD-WAN market which is expected to grow 70 percent annually for the next four years, with infrastructure and services revenues reaching more than $8 billion in 2021, according to research firm IDC. Some solution providers are getting primed for the technology disruptor, while others aren't sure where to place their bets yet.

In a CRN routable discussion at XChange 2017, CEO's and SD-WAN leaders from Cisco, CloudGenix, Talari Networks, Silver Peak, VeloCloud and Versa Networks talk about technology differentiation and partner enablement.

Kelly Ahuja

Company: Versa Networks

Title: CEO

One differentiation is our ability to span across multiple segments in the enterprise, all the way from SMB to the Fortune 50. The Fortune 100 is one segmentation that we actually can cover. Secondly, is our integration of security, which is not just a stateful firewall -- it's a next gen firewall with full [Unified Threat Management] along with SD-WAN and routing which is what people are looking for to really collapse everything within the branch. So not just SD-WAN, we software-define the entire branch. … We're the only ones who offer a full integrated security stack with SD-WAN and routing combined into one.

Versa Networks On Channel

We’re a 100 percent channel focused company. For any company to be successful today, if you don't have a 100 percent channel strategy, you can't scale to meet the needs of the customers.

Initially we started off focusing on service provider for the first few years, because we felt -- and we still believe -- that the service provider is going to be the great route to market for many of the market segments that you need to go after. We've actually seen an uptick in enterprise over the last year. Enterprises are realizing that they actually want to be able to leverage SD-WAN themselves and a do-it-yourself model. And that enterprise model is spanning from mid-market all the way up to Fortune 50s where they're taking hold of what they're going to do. What we do is we actually go and win the technical battle with those customers and then we turn those opportunities to our channel partners.

Ramesh Prabagaran

Company: Cisco

Title: Senior Director Product Management

We focused on getting rock solid secure elastic connectivity. We said, "If all else fails, what does an enterprise or a partner care about?" -- making sure their infrastructure does not stop running, right? Then we built in capabilities as layers on top of it but very tightly coupled. So you have a base layer of secure elastic connectivity that's entirely built on a cloud-first principle. And a cloud first principle is not just about how you deliver it. We can also deliver from our cloud. Our partners have taken that and their own cloud offering and they provide it back as-a-service to the customers. … [Another] differentiation -- and this is something we've heard time and again from customers, partners and service providers as well -- is we provide sophistication with simplicity. It's not just about the product and the technology, but also how we engage with the customers and the whole lifecycle around how we engage with the partners.

Cisco On Channel

We started Viptela as a 100-person channel company and Cisco has been the pioneer in this, right? So no questions about that. … We are seeing a breed of new channel partners come in and say, "I'll offer cloud networking as a service."

Our partners, as an example, have taken the approach of, 'I own the network. I can give you an SLA for the application. Let me couple both of those together and say for your telepresence, WebEx, real-time communication traffic, I'll offer you three lines of availability.' That is a service that the partners have not been able to provide before. … You're changing that conversation from purely network based SLA to an application focused SLA. That to me is critical because it allows partners to evolve their story quite a bit from purely focused on one or two things to, "Hey, I own the experience for you." All of those things coupled together is what we offer: sophistication wrapped up in simplicity.

Kumar Ramachandran

Company: CloudGenix

Title: Founder and CEO

It was previously very difficult for a regular channel partner to build the capabilities required to offer a service like SD-WAN. It truly required an army of CCIEs, Cisco certified engineers. What you can do with technologies like CloudGenix is for a fraction of the training, for with little to no investment from the channel side, to be able to offer customized comprehensive services to your customer.

We partnered early on with Intel and made a big bet on X-86 when it wasn't clear to the rest of the market that this was the way to go. Today, Intel is one of our huge partners. The advantage we've gained by building on X-86 is this: we've freed up all our engineering resources to concentrate on the software stack. So, rather than just being able to build only a Layer-3 router, which is where you'd be stuck in if you build your own hardware, we've been able to go up the stack and build layer-3 through layer-7 capabilities.

CloudGenix On Channel

We are a 100-person channel led and channel fulfillment company. We don't take a single deal, a single penny direct. … If you look back to what channels built their business on over the last decade, the partner was the arbiter of complexity. Any channel partner that does that going forward, I think within the next 10 years, won't exist. You have to move from being an arbiter of complexity to an enabler of business.

You can be from any location – cloud, SaaS or data centers, or any kind of network -- and you're expressing policies in three areas: security, performance, compliance. You do that, then the CloudGenix software is able to build, operate, manage your WAN for you.

Damon Ennis

Company: Silver Peak

Title: SVP of products

SD-WAN provides the channel with a platform. So, "Let's use MPLS. Let's use 4G LTE. Let's make a secure network. Let's automate a network." But ultimately, one of the advantages the channel gets is, once that platform is built, there's an opportunity to sell additional services and additional products. That comes back down to us in the Silver Peak solution to build an architecture which enables that. That means having just enough functionality in the branch office, just enough routing, just enough security, just enough WAN optimization, to make that architecture so you know it's secure, reliable, and then you can service chain additional services at the data center.

Silver Peak has been around since 2004. We've got global 24/7 365 support. We've got logistics depots throughout the world. We've got thousands of customers that have relied on Silver Peak in the past to deliver networking solutions. Giving that security and that amount of support to the channel partners and our end customers, it's a really important piece of differentiation.

Silver Peak On Channel

At Silver Peak, 100 percent of our business goes through the channels. When we say channel, we're talking about primarily two different constituencies: the traditional enterprise channel -- the value-added resellers -- but also increasingly in this space, there's a lot more of SD-WAN's being fulfilled by a service provider.

There's a huge opportunity for the channel there to help migrate from a legacy traditional router infrastructure to an SD-WAN. So if you look at anybody that's doing hundreds of branch offices or thousands of branch offices, no matter how simple technology is, that's a large project to go and take several hundred of something out and replace it with several hundred of something else.

Sanjay Uppal

Company: VeloCloud

Title: Co-founder and CEO

The first [differentiation] is that when we started, we built SD-WAN as both a technology and a product, but we also ran it as-a-service. So right from the get go, we ran this as-a-service so that the channel didn't have to take a product and convert it into a service. They can wrap that service around other services. That also helped the telco understand that there was money to be made.

The other thing is that when we started off we were going to disprove what the Rolling Stones said in 1967, with their song that said, 'Get off my cloud'. And right from the beginning, we thought we want people to get on our cloud and that's what we've done from the get go.

VeloCloud On Channel

We're a 99.99 percent channel company because we sold one of our solutions to ourselves, and so that was direct. … Managed services providers, SPs, and system integrators are the ones that are going to win at VeloCloud. Folks who are still in the realm of, "I'm going to provide a box and make margin out of the volume," those people are going to find it more difficult.

On our platform, you can provide new cloud services. Whenever the channel sees that they can provide new cloud services on top of this platform, that means that there's a new revenue stream. Smaller channel partners can now participate with these types of services -- whether it's security, or IoT, or application performance management, or machine learning, analytics -- all new class of services.

John Dickey

Company: Talari Networks

Title: President, CTO and co-founder

Truthfully I'm going to say our people. Our people are really strong. Our Net Promoter Score, when we come to supporting our customers, is 90. If there's a network outage, it shouldn't impact the users. Let's not affect the innocent. Let's allow people to administer their networks in the day time. They can swap out that router and we should have their back. We should give them that confidence and assurance that their network is there. Also, same thing comes to support and deployment. They need to have someone on their side who is an expert, who's there, who cares about them as deeply as they care about their clients. I think that somewhat defines what Talari is. I care a lot about the people who work with us, and they're passionately dedicated to helping the clients and the partners be successful.

Talari Networks On Channel

When it comes to channels, it's very important that we focus on what partners are trying to add value to. And how they have an opportunity and a foundation of a reliable, resilient, agile network as well as a solution derived network. That's really what we're here doing. We're trying to help partners be successful because we're trying to help their clients be successful. And then obviously increasing revenue.

There is no one solution for all. Sometimes there's subscription partners or perpetual license partners or hardware pushers. But sometimes they also integrated hosted voice with some value-added service in the branch and they need to actually plant a special firewall and something else. Each one of those services and management of those services is an opportunity for partners to make more money and add more value to their end customer.