Infovista Fights to Be Heard in SD-WAN Crowd

Can a challenger attract attention in an SD-WAN market dominated by entrenched incumbents? Infovista says it can, as it re-launches its two-year-old Ipanema SD-WAN with new capabilities designed to help operators prioritize and guarantee performance for strategic applications.

"Current SD-WAN solutions focus around router and MPLS replacement. They lack application intelligence," Mike Wilkinson, Infovista chief product officer, tells Light Reading (a claim that Infovista's competitors dispute -- more on that later).

The updated Ipanema SD-WAN, released Monday, is a new solution that has little in common with previous versions, Wilkinson says. It provides the kind of application intelligence that Infovista claims is absent from the competition, along with a cloud-based orchestrator. It includes an application database that maintains up-to-date information around SaaS applications, legitimate apps, shadow IT and malicious applications, in addition to controlling SD-WAN traffic. (See Infovista's press release: Infovista Enhances Ipanema SD-WAN With Application Intelligence.)

Ipanema SD-WAN supports multi-tenant management, making it suitable for managed service providers, the company says.

While existing systems can prioritize application traffic, Infovista uses intent-based systems to go further, dedicating capacity to ensure quality of experience.

"Most of the others have some degree of hope associated," Wilkinson says. "You prioritize and hope. With our solution we're constantly maintaining priority."

Infovista Chief Product Officer Mike Wilkinson.
Infovista Chief Product Officer Mike Wilkinson.

One advantage that Ipanema has in the competitive SD-WAN market is that it already has a built-in customer base. While the current version is a break with previous technology, the existing Ipanema SD-WAN has been available more than two years, with about 450 customers and 40,000 locations, Wilkinson says.

The focus on SD-WAN service assurance for Ipanema is unsurprising, given Infovista's service assurance background, says Ovum analyst Brian Washburn, adding: "We expect its SD-WAN platform has a solid toolkit for tracking, troubleshooting, alerting and trying to remediate issues when a particular application's service levels are measured to be out of spec."

However, an SD-WAN isn't magic. Washburn cautions: "But even the best SD-WAN platforms can't compensate for a sub-par network. If an enterprise wants to build a strong SD-WAN overlay network, it needs to assemble a quality network underlay."

"Infovista has leveraged its history in managing large carrier networks," says another Ovum analyst, Mike Sapien. Also, it acquired Ipanema in 2015, with a history in managing application performance.

"I do think Infovista, with its Ipanema SD-WAN software, does one of the best jobs in managed and prioritizing applications," Sapien says. "It isn't the only one, but definitely one of the best approaches, which gives them major credibility with large carriers like BT, and many large customers, especially if they use Infovista to manage and control their networks already."

Infovista's strong existing customer base will help it make inroads in SD-WAN, as will partnerships with Zscaler and Symantec for SD-WAN security, according to an Ovum analyst report.

But Infovista has a long way to go to get to the front of the pack of SD-WAN vendors. A report from analysts IHT Markit lists Infovista as tenth in SD-WAN revenue for the fourth quarter of 2018, with $9.7 million revenue, down 5% year-over-year. Number one was VMware, at $73.2 million, and number two, Cisco, had $48.8 million.

Number nine, Versa Networks, which we profiled this week, was significantly ahead of Infovista, at $12.3 milion revenue -- and unlike Infovista, Versa has been growing. (See Next Stop for Versa Networks – Europe.)

The full roster, according to IHS Markit, is as follows:

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In addition, Infovista's claims of differentiation from application intelligence capabilities are disputed: Its competitors say Ipanema's claimed ability to guarantee service levels for traffic aren't unique. We asked Cisco, VMware and Silver Peak if they, like Infovista, can divert network resources to priority applications; they said they can.

With its new Ipanema SD-WAN product, Infovista is in many ways making a fresh start in a crowded and highly competitive market and not a moment too soon -- the SD-WAN market is undoubtedly growing and the market can currently sustain a number of specialists as well as offerings from larger more integrated vendors. But, as with any technology market, the opportunities will eventually fall to a core group of strong suppliers that become the recognized market leaders and Infovista, even if it can prove SD-WAN tech differentiation, has a lot of work to do if it's to make the cut and survive alongside the likes of VMware, Cisco, Aryaka, Silver Peak, Nuage (Nokia) et al.

— Mitch Wagner Visit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on TwitterJoin my Facebook GroupRead my blog: Things Mitch Wagner Saw Executive Editor, Light Reading

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