It was announced this week that Cisco has plans to acquire Viptela, an SD-WAN vendor that is likely the most well know and implemented SD-WAN vendor on the market. What does this mean for Cisco’s IWAN? What does this mean for Cisco customers? In this article I’ll iterate my thoughts on the acquisition.
What it means for Cisco’s IWAN
The IWAN solution is riddled with problems. Those problems stem from both the implementation itself. Essentially Cisco saw SD-WAN emerging and they cobbled together existing technology to deliver IWAN. Consider that NBAR is used to identify applications and it’s clear that the IWAN solution is not “emerging” technology. It works, but it’s simply not sexy. However the Viptela solution is sexy in terms of how it’s implemented. It’s a true controller-based implementation which essentially defines what an SD-WAN is all about. In fact, several other vendors have delivered their solution in a much better way that to use Performance Routing (PfR) and Optimized Edge Routing which is core to the IWAN solution.
What really impresses me about the direction Cisco is taking is told by comparing deployments. You can find the 324 page IWAN deployment guide here, and when you compare it to what it takes to deploy the Viptela solution you’ll find its night and day in terms of complexity. With Cisco IWAN you’re creating an DMVPN overlay whereas with the Viptela solution you have Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP). Basically the vEdge router needs to have external connectivity and it calls into the cloud-based controller. The connection is secure and configuration is delivered via NETCONF over Secure Shell. Once the edge router is online its meshed with the rest of the network.
So what does this mean for IWAN? I think the writing is on the wall and the IWAN days are numbered. IWAN needs to be phased out and the Viptela solution needs to be integrated tightly into Cisco’s exiting WAN products. Cisco cannot treat Viptela like they did with Meraki and allow them to operate independently.
What does this mean for Cisco Customers?
This means good things for Cisco customers provided its integrated properly. Some customers will certainly be disappointed when they realize that the solution they just invested in will likely be phased out, however the Viptela solution is a better solution. Cisco has invested in Meraki and that meant good things for Wireless customers. The hardware is less expensive than what Cisco delivers in their ISR routers, so seeing how that crosses over will be interesting. However, there’s more that an ISR can do. So if the Viptela solution is simply integrated into the existing platform that life will be good. You will have access to the power and features of the Cisco ISR and the ZTP and ease of management that Viptela delivers with their solution.
The thoughts here are simply a musing on talk around the industry. To hear other industry views and hear comparison between the two solutions, I’d direct your attention to the following:
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