Silver Peak Brings SD-WAN Unity to the Edge

Silver Peak today is perhaps best known as a WAN optimization vendor, but that could be changing. Today, the company announced its Unity Edge Connect solution for SD-WAN.

The basic idea behind Software-Defined (SD) WAN is the aggregation of public Internet access bandwidth in a manner that can provide service levels and performance that meet or exceed that of more costly MPLS connectivity.

Overall, the Unity Edge Connect solution is an expansion of an idea that Silver Peak first started to talk about in August of 2014 with the initial announcement of the Unity fabric.

“Unity, as we had announced it, is an SD-WAN architecture, an overlay that can connect physical locations and cloud together,” David Hughes, founder and CEO of Silver Peak, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “With Edge Connect, we’re building on that, using the Unity overlay technology, adding new appliances, the ability to do zero touch provisioning and other capabilities.”

Hughes commented that the Unity Edge Connect helps organizations save on operational expenditures related to both bandwidth and visibility. There are three components of the Edge Connect platform, including the appliances that are deployed in branches. The appliance then connects into the Orchestrator, which the WAN administrator uses to manage the Unity fabric.

Hughes explained that with the Orchestrator, network policies are implemented across the connected Unity fabric devices. So, for example, all credit card data can be set up to run on an overlay network, across branches connected to the Unity Fabric.

The third piece of Unity Edge Connect is the Unity Boost technology, which is where some of the most traditional elements of WAN optimization come into play.

“Unity Boost is an optional performance pack that adds full application acceleration to the solution,” Hughes said.

As part of the base solution, Hughes emphasized there are already multiple optimizations, including Dynamic Path Control (DCP) and Path Conditioning.

“It’s about real-time steering and choosing the right network path end-to-end, based on network measurements,” Hughes said.

Hughes explained that those measurements are abstracted for users by way of goal-driven policies. He added that what people really want is a policy that describes what they are trying to achieve.

“For voice that might be, give me the path for the highest quality and lowest latency, while for data the choice might be for the most throughput,” Hughes said. “Dynamic Patch Control is a combination of business intent policy with network measurements.”

With the Path Conditioning piece, the goal is to make public Internet resources perform more like MPLS. Additionally, Silver Peak has added a WAN hardening component to the Unity Edge Connect solution to provide security, including IP-SEC and 256-bit encryption, and make sure that critical traffic does not leak out.

“SD-WAN has the software-defined piece in it, and the most important thing about that is the ability to automate from a high level of abstraction, and that’s something we’re delivering with Edge Connect,” Hughes said.

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

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