Verizon today announced it has partnered with Cisco to launch an application-driven wide area networking service, the first of the new services on its software-defined network architecture. The managed SDN-based WAN automatically tailors network connections to the needs of enterprise applications.
The service addresses enterprise needs to connect employees to business applications regardless of where they are located or how they are connecting to the corporate resources involved, and promises the best connection available based on the application needs, including factors such as latency and security. The SD-WAN service is based on Cisco's Intelligent WAN technology and will be jointly marketed and sold by Verizon Enterprise Solutions and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).
Verizon, which announced its SDN architecture in April, chose this service first based on demand from enterprise customers whose need "to connect users to apps simply, securely and reliably is increased considerably," says Shawn Hakl, vice president of enterprise networking and innovation, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "What the SD-WAN technology lets you do is create a network from point to point utilizing all the connections that are available to you at a given site and then being able to match the performance of a given path to the application requirements." (See Verizon Builds Key Vendors Into SDN Strategy.)
Enterprises can define their routing policies on an application basis, and the SD-WAN service will apply those policies, shifting routes as network conditions change and utilizing both public Internet and private MPLS resources as needed. Cisco's iWAN technology, which runs on the latest version of its Integrated Services routers (ISRs) powers this new intelligent routing.
Traditionally, the quality and type of connection was based on the employee's location, Hakl notes, with the best options available to those in large, centrally located offices. While employees are increasingly mobile or remote, some of their applications require the same kind of connection once confined to the enterprise HQ.
"This technology provides the ability for the CIO to start picking the way that the user gets to the application in a much more fine grained level," Hadl says. For example, a user working at one site will get one set of network facilities with built-in security, resilience and cost for mission critical apps and another for the Netflix video being streamed on a lunch break.
In order to make this happen, Verizon uses the iWAN platform's ability to pre-compute the performance characteristics of the connection and match those to the application in advance, Hakl says. Building on APIs into Cisco's technology, the carrier internally developed the intellectual property needed to link the Cisco system's intelligence to Verizon management systems so that, if degradation in the connection occurs, those systems know to explore alternative paths in order to maintain the user experience, he says.
"We embedded the iWAN platform's intelligence deeper into its management systems to allow it to manage at the app level versus the more traditional approach of managing at the component basis," Hakl says. The new service will be launched as part of Verizon's managed services suite.
The SD-WAN offer is initially available only in North America but is already being tested with customers in Europe and Asia, he says, so deployment there is expected to follow shortly.
The next step for Verizon is to add virtual appliances to the SD-WAN, and enable additional services such as firewalls, load balancing and more, he comments. Other operators have actually started with virtual CPE, rolling out virtual security and other types of services while simplifying their support of devices on premises. (See Masergy's Cloud Router Solves CPE Dilemma and Two Faces of Distributed NFV.)
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading