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Verizon Taps Viptela to Beef Up SD-WANs

Carol Wilson
2/18/2016
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Verizon is aggressively advancing its software-defined WAN strategy by entering into an unusual agreement with Viptela that will tie that company's technology to the carrier's service on an exclusive basis in the US. Verizon officials say the move lets them push well beyond dynamic bandwidth to a broader range of services, to be delivered more simply.

The partners say they'll jointly develop a new Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)-managed service using Viptela 's software-defined WAN Platform, which will help enterprises combine their existing public and private IP services with an SD-WAN, and let enterprises make service choices based on application demands as well as geographic location and bandwidth requirements. Key to the offering is the assistance in moving from today's multiple services to a single SD-WAN platform, managed as one service, the partners say, as well as its ability to enable new business models such as usage-based billing for virtual services.

"Verizon is not alone in the SD-WAN race, obviously, but it was first in on some of the SD-WAN trends, and I think the business tie-in with Viptela is pretty fantastic for Verizon," notes Brian Washburn, service director, global business network and IT services, for Current Analysis. He characterizes Viptela as "one of the companies that have demonstrably larger enterprise customers already working on their gear. Viptela has got the goods right now for larger enterprise real-life deployments."

By contrast, other SD-WAN players, and there is a big field, don't have Viptela's deployment experience, Washburn notes, and that includes companies such as Cisco, Nuage Networks, Riverbed, Versa Networks, VeloCloud and CloudGenix in a rapidly growing space. There is reason for the interest: IDC is projecting the SD-WAN market will hit nearly $12.5 billion in revenue in 2020.


Zoom in on carrier SDN strategies in our SDN section here on Light Reading.

The fact that Verizon and Viptela worked together to win two major deals, one with a healthcare company and one with a financial services firm, means Verizon also already has experience working on that platform, he says. (See CEO Chat With Viptela's Amir Khan .)

The maturity of Viptela's product was key to its choice by Verizon, agrees Viraj Parekh, managing director, product innovation and new business. He says enterprise customers are driving the push to SD-WAN: To connect increasingly mobile employees securely, reliably and rapidly to cloud-based apps requires more functions than just dynamic bandwidth.

That's why one of the more important aspects of the Viptela partnership is that it will enable a centralized management platform for the SD-WAN solution and allow creation of new use cases through joint development activity, he says. In addition, Verizon's SD-WAN will be integrated with its Secure Cloud Interconnection offer, to allow those simpler and more secure ties to a wide range of commercial clouds.

"We had solved for the problem of dynamic bandwidth," with the SD-WAN service announced last year, Parekh said, so Verizon was ready to move to the next phase.

"This is very foundational for SDN. It provides us and the customer with the ability to dynamically service chain other virtualized services, like cloud-based security, WAN optimization, deep packet inspection, session border controllers -- whatever gets virtualized in the cloud," he says.

Greater visibility
The new SD-WAN offer will give enterprises visibility into their applications and infrastructure from a centralized interface -- the much touted "single pane of glass" -- to facilitate smarter decision-making on how to use services and make it easy to change service policies quickly, and to add additional services via service chaining, with those services expected to be billed on a usage basis, Parekh says.

Another core strength of the Viptela platform is managing segmentation of traffic for customers, he notes. The healthcare company the two jointly landed was going through a divestiture process and needed to securely segment traffic, and Viptela enabled that quickly. "That's something that could have taken months to do," he says.

That segmentation is important both for external security reasons and for internal traffic management -- segmenting voice traffic for example -- Parekh notes.

Ramesh Prabagaran, VP of product marketing and management for Viptela, says one of his company's core competencies is helping enterprises make the transition from where they are today, with many different network services, to where they want to be, on an SD-WAN, "while keeping the lights on." He calls it an incremental process which Viptela has worked hard to develop, and continues to improve based on its experience.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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