SD-WAN Roundup: ‘Sophistication in Routing’ a Differentiator for Cisco SD-WAN

James Anderson

James Anderson

VMware’s acquisition of VeloCloud dominated the attention of the SD-WAN market for the last month, but plenty of its rivals are making major moves.

As numerous vendors and analysts proclaim that software-defined wide area networking has “gone mainstream,” companies are making bold moves to establish themselves as contenders in the hot market. Talari appointed a new CEO and new channel strategy last month and Aryaka hired a new chief revenue primarily because his experience in filing an IPO. Although the experts tend to agree that M&A will likely continue to play a big role in shaping the SD-WAN industry, companies aren’t sitting on their hands and waiting.

In our latest installment of the SD-WAN Roundup, we highlight one of VeloCloud’s largest competitors, Cisco SD-WAN. We’ll also hear from Silver Peak and Aryaka about the prospects of an SD-WAN company going public and learn about the newest offering on the block.

Cisco SD-WAN

Cisco is probably the most common reference I come across in interviews with SD-WAN companies. Earlier in the year, younger competitors like CloudGenix and Riverbed made a major selling point out of comparing their products to Cisco’s IWAN product, mainly because of IWAN’s use of routers. And talk of routers persisted when Cisco finished acquiring Viptela in the summer, a deal that analyst Matthew Toth called it a good fit between two “router-based systems.” Rival Silver Peak has been running a promotional campaign that takes a not-so-subtle jab at Cisco and infers that routers are a thing of the 1980s.

So are these assessments of Cisco SD-WAN as a router-based system true? And if so, is using routers an effective strategy for SD-WAN? Or is the router-driven approach like Molly Ringwald: beloved during the ’80s and early ’90s but lacking the depth required for any meaningful sense of career longevity?

Ramesh Prabagaran

Ramesh Prabagaran

Ramesh Prabagaran, senior director of product management for Cisco SD-WAN, spoke to Channel Partners about how his company differentiates itself. He explains that SD-WAN is more than a “transport-independent fabric with application-aware capabilities.” According to Prabagaran and Cisco, there should be a fundamental shift to delivering the technology with a cloud focus.

“Our fundamental philosophy is; you need to fundamentally decouple the circuit that connects all the sites together from the servers that are built on top of it. The service that’s being built on top of it needs to have an element of control and management. If that’s delivered out of the cloud, then you have the efficiencies that go along with it, and with that you also get a layer of visibility,” Prabagaran said. “All of those things are kind of table stakes for somebody to consume this technology today.”

As for the router question, Prabagaran acknowledges that it has become a popular polemic against Cisco. But he …

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