Verizon this week unveiled a software-defined managed WAN service for enterprises based on Cisco’s existing Intelligent WAN (IWAN) technology and not its new enterprise SDN controller.
Verizon’s Managed Software Defined Wide Area Network (Managed SD-WAN) service is a controller-less IWAN software module for Cisco’s ISR and ASR branch routers, says Shawn Hakl, vice president of enterprise networking and innovation for Verizon. Among the features of the service are integrated application optimization for improved and faster application performance; intelligent path control to utilize both MPLS and the Internet connections through Cisco’s Performance Routing technology; and faster provisioning of new sites and services in a hybrid WAN.
In developing the Managed SD-WAN service, Verizon did evaluate Cisco’s Application Policy Infrastructure Controller-Enterprise Module, which was introduced in January 2014 but is still not generally available. APIC EM is targeted at automated WAN and access network and policy configuration, among other applications.
But the Managed SD-WAN service “does not necessarily require that centralized controller” architecture of APIC EM, Hakl says. It is centrally managed, but the control plane for the service is not.
“We picked elements necessary to meet that use case,” Hakl said. “APIC is not necessary for the initial launch.”
APIC could come into play as Verizon looks to orchestrate services on top of connections optimized through IWAN and Cisco’s Dynamic Multipoint VPN (DMVPN) IPSec software. DMVPN does use a centralized architecture to implement and manage deployments that require granular access controls for mobile workers, telecommuters, and extranet users.
APIC could be added to Managed SD-WAN to deliver virtual Layer 4-7 appliances and connect to a software-defined data center, Hakl says.
Cisco says APIC EM was never designed to service provider managed services. Instead, it’s for enterprise “self-management,” says Jason Rolleston, senior director of product management for Cisco Enterprise Routing.
“APIC EM is for enterprises trying to manage themselves,” Rolleston says. “It’s not for service provider multitenant management. We’re working on service provider orchestration and management but it’s currently not part of the offering.”
Cisco’s SD-WAN strategy of late has placed virtually no emphasis on APIC EM. Instead, the company’s been touting the existing capabilities of IWAN and DMVPN.
Cisco recently pitched an SD-WAN “Bill of Rights” that mentioned no specific product, but conspicuously absent was any mention of APIC EM in a software-defined WAN context.
Verizon also uses Viptela’s SD-WAN products in its Managed SD-WAN offering. Hakl says the carrier’s SDN strategy has always been multivendor to address customer choice in implementation for the same SD-WAN application.
Viptela says it has 15 Fortune 500 customers for its controller-based, “transport agnostic” SD-WAN, which provides a full mesh of IPSec tunnels. One customer, Viptela’s largest, is a California retailer with 1,400 sites that also evaluated Cisco’s IWAN and DMVPN, according to Viptela.
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