Verizon Embraces Cisco for Managed SD-WAN Service

Though there is still money to be made in MPLS, customer demand is driving a need for SD-WAN.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Sep 8, 2015
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Verizon announced today that it is offering Cisco's IWAN Intelligent WAN solution as a managed SD-WAN service. SD-WAN is an emerging technology area that could help organizations replace costly MPLS links with high quality Software Defined public Internet WAN links.

Full financial terms of the Cisco Verizon arrangement are not currently public, though Shawn Hakl, vice president, enterprise networking and innovation at Verizon, told Enterprise Networking Planet that Verizon has seen significant customer demand during the pre-launch positioning of the technology with key clients. Hakl anticipates that the new SD-WAN service will be very appealing to enterprises.

"Cisco IWAN’s open architecture enables Verizon to offer a flexible, highly secure and reliable service to its enterprise customers," Jeff Reed, vice president of the Cisco Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions Group, said. "With IWAN as the foundation and Verizon’s expertise in network management, the solution will enable enterprises to improve the application experience for their employees and customers."

Hakl explained that from a vendor perspective, today's Managed SD-WAN launch is based on the Cisco IWAN platform. He noted that the Verizon Managed SD-WAN is deployed as part of Verizon's managed services platform and supported out of Verizon's Global NOC. Jason Rolleston, senior director of Enterprise Networking at Cisco, added that the solution includes Cisco Integrated Services Routers with Cisco Intelligent WAN (PfR, AVC, WAN Optimization: WAAS, Akamai Connect).

While there are multiple vendors in the market today that offer SD-WAN technology, Hakl commented that Managed SD-WAN is part of Verizon's multi-vendor managed services suite.

"When looking at technologies that could address the new challenges in performance and security, Verizon evaluated a number of solutions that met the customer use case and could be delivered reliably at scale," Hakl said. "Cisco's IWAN solution meets those criteria, and Verizon has a long, successful history with Cisco delivering solutions to our large enterprise customers."

While the new SD-WAN solution is being deployed with Cisco technology, Verizon also has other SDN partners. Hakl added that the company's initial SDN press release in April noted that Verizon is working with a number of provider partners, such as Cisco, ALU, Ericson, Nokia and Juniper.  Verizon has also co-presented efforts with non-traditional providers, such as Viptela, at the Open Network User's Group.

In some respects, SD-WAN technology can be considered competitive with the private networking and MPLS technologies offered by Verizon. Hakl emphasized that Verizon's goal with SD-WAN is to meet customer need and demand.

"As the way in which workloads move the through the network changes, driven by changes such as mobile to cloud application models, peer-to-peer collaboration and over-the-top video delivery, our customers need new tools to ensure a positive user experience," Hakl said. "Managed SD-WAN is a technology that addresses that need by providing the ability to match the application needs directly to the type of connection selected."

Hakl added that having SD-WAN in the Verizon portfolio expands customer choice, allowing organizations to select from multiple connection options available at a given site - MPLS/Private Network, Native Ethernet or Fixed/Mobile Broadband - based on the security and performance needs of the application.

According to Cisco's Rolleston, SD-WAN and hybrid WAN add more value to MPLS/private network services.

"By providing Internet with MPLS, carriers can give their customers a variety of options tailored to meet their business needs," Rolleston said. "The Cisco IWAN solution improves network performance and security while enabling the use of both Internet and MPLS."

From a Verizon perspective, the new Managed SD-WAN service is part of a broader overall effort. Hakl said that Verizon's overall SD-WAN efforts will allow customers to take advantage of virtualized network functions for applications such as security, application acceleration and performance management.

"It also provides the basis by which Verizon can help customers proactively manage the end-to-end user experience from the mobile device to the cloud-based application," Hakl said. "Verizon will continue to build on our SD-WAN release with further virtualized network functions, integration further into the software defined data center and the associated end-to-end managed services."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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