Intent vs. Outcome: VeloCloud's Take on the Race to Automate

Kelsey Kusterer Ziser
11/28/2017
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VeloCloud has taken a stand in advancing automation in the SD-WAN space with its new Outcome-Driven Networking approach, just as vendors like Cisco, Juniper and Apstra are seeking to automate network and data center network operations via Intent Based Networking (IBN).

"I think what VeloCloud is doing is trying to extend intent, and go beyond to achieving the actual outcome and then maintaining that outcome," says Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. "It differs a little from what Cisco and Apstra are doing in the range of its coverage. Also, the outcome they're focused on is more for the SD-WAN space."

While Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is focused on automation in the entire network, vendors like Apstra are focused on automating the data center network, says Laliberte. In addition, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) has implemented IBN in the data center with its AppFormix platform. (See Intent-Based Networking: Marketing Hype or a Magic Bullet for Automation? and Apstra's Intent-Based Networking Adds SDN Overlays.)

VeloCloud Networks Inc. 's latest announcement comes on the heels of recent news that VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) will acquire the SD-WAN supplier. In a blog post earlier this month, VeloCloud CEO and Co-Founder Sanjay Uppal said, "We could not think of a better company to partner with than VMware, both from a strategy and culture perspective." (See VeloCloud 'Pours Gas' on VMware's Carrier Ambitions and VMware to Acquire SD-WAN Startup VeloCloud.)

Announced yesterday at AWS re:INVENT 2017 in Las Vegas, VeloCloud's Outcome-Driven Networking solution aims to reduce manual processes and increase automation of network processes end-to-end by stating business outcomes and establishing a desired state of the network. (See VeloCloud Powers Outcome-Driven Networking.)

Essentially, Outcome-Driven Networking is an effort by VeloCloud to differentiate itself among SD-WAN providers by tying use cases to key outcomes IT administrators are focused on, says Dan Conde, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

"I think the whole key is they're taking these rather technical details -- how they provision VPNs or zero-touch operations -- and just basically tying that to outcomes that people are looking for."

For example, an administrator might want to make sure a guest network doesn't interfere with their internal network, and VeloCloud's outcome-driven segmentation feature isolates traffic based on segments. Organizations can create segments for guest and corporate traffic, isolate them, and issue separate custom policies for each traffic type. Another new feature is that PCI traffic can also be separated from other traffic; VeloCloud received the certificate of Attestation of Compliance (AOC) from the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council -- an important feature for retail customers or MSPs that want to enter the retail space, says Mike Fratto, research director for Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology at GlobalData.

Rachna Srivastava, director of product marketing for VeloCloud, says the Outcome-Driven Networking service is founded on the "pillars" of abstraction and automation; on-premises and cloud presence; and self-learning and adaptation.

"Until now, we've talked about features, benefits and capabilities," says Srivastava. "Now we're really thinking about everything that we build and design is with the framework and the lense of an outcome. 'What is it that we want to achieve and our end users to get and how do we make that happen?'"

ESG Senior Analyst Bob Laliberte says the ability to automate process and utilize self-learning to make course corrections as the network environment changes will be important not only in connecting to the branch but as more organizations connect to the cloud. The WAN is becoming a more critical point in that aspect of the digital transformation, which is why Cisco acquired Viptela and partnered with Google on hybrid clouds, and VMware is acquiring VeloCloud and also has a partnership with Amazon, he adds. (See Google Teams With Cisco for Hybrid Cloud and VMware & Amazon Grow Hybrid Tie-Up to 'Very Large Scale'.)

Analysts Bob Laliberte, Dan Conde and Mike Fratto all point out that the acquisition of VeloCloud could bode well for advancing VMWare's focus on microsegmentation within its NSX network virtualization and security platform. VMware's planned acquisition of VeloCloud fills a critical gap in VMware's remote office and branch office strategy, says Fratto. Both companies are engineering-oriented, so the acquisition is also a good fit culturally and increases VeloCloud's competitive stance in the SD-WAN market, adds Fratto.

"It elevates VeloCloud's competitive stance being with VMWare and prior to the acquisition VeloCloud's just been knocking it out of the park adding customers, adding managed service providers."

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— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Light Sabre
11/28/2017 | 2:17:17 PM
Intent
Intent is certainly a good way of looking at this. For example, the future of automation may be deciphering what users plan to do before they do it. I would certainly agree that this would be the way AI will do things in the future. 
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