When you look at the recent acquisitions of Viptela and Velocloud by industry staples Cisco and VMWare, it could lead you to question whether the SDWAN market is now only a two-horse show. This thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Let’s look at each of these vendor’s strengths and weaknesses to gain a little perspective.
Cisco is the network giant. They understand WAN’s, LAN’s, Routing, and Switching. They built their business on these 4 core areas. However, Cisco is also static. When Cisco attempted their own implementation of SDWAN services, they introduced their customers to IWAN. While IWAN does technically qualify as a SDWAN product in the crudest sense, it is still a legacy, packet driven technology. It is based upon a technology that is more than 10 years old. Before it was called IWAN, it was called PfR (Performance Routing), or OER (Optimized Edge Routing). These were both complex to configure and not scalable for wide adoption in the enterprise world. They solely relied on traditional layer 3 metrics such as loss, latency, and jitter to determine path selection. Cisco truly understands WAN’s, but they don’t understand applications.
VMWare is the king of virtualization. They have dominated the datacenter space with the virtualization, and orchestration of the compute, storage, and network tiers. Their technology is used almost ubiquitously throughout Fortune 1000 companies for this very reason. VMWare fully understands applications from end to end throughout the datacenter, but lacks any sufficient understanding of WAN’s. Let’s face it VMWare’s acquisition was intended only to be a direct competition to Cisco. This all started when VMWare refused to support any 3rd party virtualized switch on their ESX platform.
Customer data points to the fact that Cisco / Viptela and CloudGenix are dominating the enterprise space, while VMWare / VeloCloud have done well in the SMB and Service Provider markets. While both VMWare and Cisco have done well with their acquisitions, they still suffer from one major blind spot. Neither of these companies’ acquisitions has a top-down application centric approach. They are still packet brokers looking at the application stack from the bottom up.
Why is a top down approach needed? Truly understanding an application through its payloads, headers, location, and business priority is the only way to manage the proliferation of both Cloud based SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS solutions being utilized today. Only through advanced machine learning of all aspects of all seven OSI layers will anyone be able to achieve true SDWAN capabilities. Of all the companies listed within this article, only one has mastered this solution. CloudGenix.