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Masergy Promises Differentiated SD-WAN

Managed service provider joins crowded SD-WAN market with its own twist: multiple active paths and application-driven connections.

September 13, 2016

4 Min Read
Masergy Promises Differentiated SD-WAN

Masergy today joined the increasingly crowded SD-WAN service market, promising a managed SD-WAN service with many more options and support for hybrid connections so that enterprises can let applications actually drive their connection types. (See Masergy Launches SD-WAN Solution.)

The software-defined wide area network offer will become one of the virtualized network functions on Masergy Communications Inc. 's existing virtual customer premises equipment platform, but it will also be available in premises pizza box form and as a cloud-based function. (See CenturyLink, Masergy Roll Real-World NFV and Masergy Adds Advanced WAN Encryption VNF.)

For its launch, Masergy is working with Silver Peak Systems Inc. , chosen after a two-year evaluation of vendors that is ongoing, says VP of Global Technology Ray Watson, with other vendor support likely to follow. Masergy is coming to market first with the premises-based solution -- Masergy will fully manage on-prem SD-WAN gear -- but it will have a virtualized solution up and running by year's end.

Want to know more about NFV and open source strategies? Check out our dedicated NFV content channel here on Light Reading.

Software-defined WANs began as devices enterprises deployed on premises to let them connect multiple offices over broadband Internet to cloud-based applications, without the expense and hassle of an MPLS connection. The market is quickly evolving toward managed SD-WAN services, however, as enterprises look to turn over the complexity of multiple broadband connections and to retain MPLS or VPLS options where applications need that, as opposed to moving everything to SD-WAN over broadband.

"Customers want a turnkey solution," Watson says. "They want a fully managed SD-WAN option -- that is the really the heart of what we are announcing -- so we are layering in a fully managed SD-WAN as yet another network function in the Masergy family of network functions that includes routers, firewalls, SBCs [session border controllers] WAN acceleration, WAN encryption and now SD-WAN."

There are multiple ways that Masergy executives believe their SD-WAN product is different from what's available now in what Watson calls a "noisy" market. One is its connectivity options, including intelligent connectivity or private direct connections with ultra-high-performance characteristics, network-as-a-service secure tunnel connectivity done over-the-top or NaaS together with a managed broadband service.

The latter builds on Masergy's core ability to acquire and manage broadband connections globally for its enterprise customers, eliminating the need for them to deal with dozens of broadband providers globally.

Masergy then operates its software-defined platform delivering direct connections to a growing cloud marketplace that today includes AWS, Softlayer, Google and Microsoft Azure. Customers can have multiple virtual environments, using different types of connections depending on the applications involved, including MPLS, VPLS and others.

"We have one client right now with 17 virtual environments," says Paul Ruelas, Masergy director of product management. That includes two different MPLS environments for production work in two different parts of the business plus a test-development cloud, some non-IP based applications and three different Internet environments, including one for guest WiFi and one for video conferencing.

The multi-active path capability means there can be multiple WANs per site, and SD-WAN lets them be put to maximum use, says John Dumbleton, Masergy senior VP-business development. Masergy helps its customers set up business policy controls to give them very granular control over how applications use the available bandwidth. Instead of waiting until a primary connection fails to use the backup, both connections can be put to use with traffic prioritized by application.

"This capability will really resonate with customers looking to build highly resilient networks and maintain nice tight performance optimization in the hybrid environment," he comments. "They want to have resilience, they want to pay for performance, but they don't want to overpay."

The ability to have very detailed performance visibility and integrated route control on an application basis is definitely a differentiator, Ovum analyst Mike Sapien says.

Enterprise customers are increasingly more interested in applications performance than in focusing on the details of how that is delivered, Watson adds. "All the details become noise in the background," he says. "That was our experience with our NFV rollouts, and based on the limited deployments and interactions we've had around SD-WAN, it is going to be exactly the same thing."

Masergy is capitalizing on Silver Peak's Adaptive Packet capabilities for another of its differentiations. Adaptive Packet is a means of doing forward error correction that more aggressively addresses problems with voice or video lines so that there is greater likelihood of uninterrupted conversations.

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

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