Cisco Deepens Equinix Partnership for SD-WAN

Cisco Systems is continuing to expand the reach of its software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology by integrating it with Equinix’s connectivity fabric and network edge services on the data center services provider’s infrastructure platform.

Cisco and Equinix already had been working together to offer joint customers SD-WAN support through direct and secure hybrid and multicloud access through a private SD-WAN interconnection. Enterprises could use Cisco’s virtual routers and SD-WAN on Equinix’s Network Edge offering to extend the reach of their networks across Equinix Fabric to cloud providers.

During the virtual Cisco Live event in March, Raj Gulani, senior director of Cisco SD-WAN product management, unveiled a plan to deepen the collaboration by integrating the company’s Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect solution with Equinix Fabric and Network Edge platform to give organizations a way to deploy and manage their SD-WAN gateways and connectivity worldwide from a single portal.

The goal is to drive reliable network performance while reducing operational costs and complexity by automating site-to-site and site-to-cloud connectivity via the Equinix Fabric. That capability is now live, both companies said on September 9.

“For the first time, Cisco and Equinix customers can take advantage of our co-engineering effort via Cisco’s SD-WAN controller, vManage,” Ivan Duggan, managing director of global sales for SD-WAN and routing at Cisco, and Royce Thomas, senior vice president of strategic alliances and global account management at Equinix, wrote in a blog post. “Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect with Equinix delivers reliable network performance while decreasing operational costs and complexity by automating on-demand network to sites and to leading cloud provider networks.”

The aim, Duggan and Thomas wrote, “is to provide a world-class experience by integrating the leading SD-WAN solution with the leading colocation provider’s flexible software-defined network.”

SD-WAN Growth Continues

SD-WAN for the past several years has been among the fastest-growing segments in the larger software-defined networking (SDN) space, offering connectivity options at a time when applications and data increasingly are accessed outside of central data centers though the cloud and edge. According to market research firm Dell’Oro Group, the global SD-WAN market grew 39 percent year-over-year in the first half of 2021, continuing with the momentum that the analysts saw in the last part of 2020. Cisco remained the top SD-WAN revenue generator, followed by Fortinet, VMware, Versa Networks and Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Aruba Networks.

The goal is to drive reliable network performance while reducing operational costs and complexity by automating site-to-site and site-to-cloud connectivity via the Equinix Fabric. That capability is now live.

Much of Cisco’s SD-WAN capabilities were inherited through its $610 million acquisition of pure-play vendor Viptela in 2017, though it also offers SD-WAN through its Meraki business.

The partnership with Equinix gives Cisco an avenue for extending the reach of its SD-WAN offerings at a time when enterprises are adopting hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies. Equinix runs almost 230 colocation data centers in 26 countries with such connectivity technologies as Equinix Fabric that offers software-defined interconnects on Platform Equinix. Network Edge enables organizations to quickly select, deploy, and connect virtual network services at the edge without having to add space, power or equipment.

Equinix’s Broad Partner Lineup

Equinix also comes with a broad array of partners, including Aruba, Fortinet, VMware, Versa, Juniper Networks and Palo Alto Networks for virtual network services and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud among cloud providers. The company last month announced that it was collaborating with IBM to deliver IBM and Red Hat via IBM Cloud Satellite on Equinix bare metal platform.

“Through Cisco vManage, our Cisco-implementing customers can deploy virtual network function (VNF) devices, such as Cisco Cloud Services Routers (CSR 1000V), on Network Edge,” Tom Yin, director of business development for networking at Equinix, wrote in a blog post. “Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect configures these VNF devices, then dynamically sets up Equinix Fabric interconnections — providing a seamless experience for the user.”

The benefits range from inherent redundancy (between Equinix International Business Exchange (IBX) data centers), fast and on-demand connectivity, centralized visibility and complete automation throughout the networks. There also is integrated support from both Cisco and Equinix.

Cisco Expands SD-WAN Reach

Equinix’s global reach through its network of data centers is important for a company like Cisco as it looks to expand the number of organizations using its SD-WAN and other services, according to Bob O’Donnell, principal analyst with TECHnalysis Research.

 Equinix has “sites all over the country and they’re used by a lot of companies as a colo and what’s great for Cisco is this gets their software-defined WAN stuff into a broader range of companies that may not even be using it on their own site,” O’Donnell told Enterprise Security Planet. “Somebody makes an arrangement with Equinix to host some of their own server hardware and other compute resources, and then they get access to the infrastructure that SD-WAN enables, which can improve costs and improve the efficiencies and the speed of data transfer. For Equinix, they offer a range of different services.”

It’s a winning situation for both companies and their customers “because it’s a way to move towards the fully software-defined data center model that everybody likes to talk about but is often hard to do,” he said. “It’s a critical step in that development and it ties beautifully into the whole hybrid cloud thing, because Equinix tends to be used for companies’ own compute and storage stuff.”

Most enterprises recognize that they need to move toward a more software-defined data center because it enables them to replicate the flexibility and efficiency of cloud-based architectures while keeping their own data and infrastructure on premises, without having the complexity and costs involved with moving large amounts of data back and forth to the cloud.

SD-WAN is a critical part of their ability to be able to do that and to interconnect site to site,” the analyst said, adding that Cisco’s partnership with Equinix enables organizations “to seamlessly connect various computer resources across physical locations and from an Equinix site to their home inside-the-building data center, for those who still have those. It just gives people a lot more flexibility in general and it’s a step towards that pure cloud computing model, but for companies who are sticking more to hybrid or even just private [cloud] using cloud-based technologies.”

Jeff Burt
Jeffrey Burt has been a journalist for more than three decades, the last 20-plus years covering technology. During more than 16 years with eWEEK, he covered everything from data center infrastructure and collaboration technology to AI, cloud, quantum computing and cybersecurity. A freelance journalist since 2017, his articles have appeared on such sites as eWEEK, The Next Platform, ITPro Today, Channel Futures, Channelnomics, SecurityNow, Data Breach Today, InternetNews and eSecurity Planet.

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