CenturyLink Adds Cisco to SD-WAN Options

CenturyLink is adding a Managed Cisco SD-WAN powered by Viptela option to its software-defined wide area network offerings, primarily to capitalize on Cisco's strength as an enterprise router vendor.

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) launched its SD-WAN service using Versa Networks technology but is now adding Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) as a vendor for its US-based customers initially, with plans to expand that to its global network, says Eric Barrett, senior director of product management. The company had earlier this fall unveiled its global SD-WAN offer on the network it acquired with Level 3 Communications. (See CenturyLink Goes Global With SD-WAN.)

According to CenturyLink, its managed SD-WAN service will give enterprises "the tools, technology and expertise needed to design, deploy, configure and migrate SD-WAN services" using a CenturyLink portal, across Cisco's Viptela vEDGE series routers and enterprise network computer system 5000 series virtualized network platform.

"There's definitely a lot of our customers who have a relationship with Cisco and are comfortable with them," Barrett tells Light Reading in an interview. "We also have a long-standing relationship with Cisco. Mostly this is adding choice to our SD-WAN portfolio."

That choice doesn't include the ability to mix and match SD-WAN products, which at this stage aren't interoperable, he notes. Barrett says there aren't huge differences in the two platforms, from the enterprise customer's perspective, and the choice may come down to a few factors.

"They are very similar," he comments. "I would say from the perspective of the Versa platform, we see customers looking more for a next-gen firewall leaning in that direction. There may be a few bells and whistles that one has over the other, but security is the one we hear most often, There is vendor preference that gets weighed into that as well."

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Cisco hadn't been a dominant player in the SD-WAN market but with the acquisition of Viptela moved ahead, and now Cisco has been named a leader in the WAN Edge Infrastructure market by Gartner Group, according to Lloyd Noronha, Cisco's head of SD-WAN marketing. The company remains the top dog in traditional enterprise routers with a 60% market share, according to Gartner.

"In terms of expanding our customer base globally, this is a fantastic addition for us," Noronha says in an interview.

Both Barrett and Noronha say SD-WAN is starting to live up to the hype of a couple of years ago, with larger customers moving beyond proofs of concept and limited deployments to more company-wide usage.

"We are still starting to hit the curve up, I think we are still at the bottom of that curve, headed up," Barrett says.

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

markjhonson 11/2/2018 | 4:24:58 PM
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