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Viptela joins the WAN disruption party

In one week, the industry has seen the launch of two enterprise WAN-focused startups.

Happy Cinco De Mayo to all, and I hope everyone had a great Star Wars weekend (May the 4th be with all of you!). It appears that, while many of us were watching Star Wars movies (2-6 I hope, as everyone hates 1) or planning a big Mexican feast, the folks over at Viptela were also busy. Monday morning, like a Jedi in the shadows, Viptela came out of stealth mode a week after CloudGenix launched, to add to the WAN disruption frenzy. I’m guessing CloudGenix launched last week so the executives could have a rich, fun-filled Star Wars weekend.

Like CloudGenix, Viptela is focused on building a more dynamic, agile WAN. Viptela this week announced what it is calling the Viptela Secure Extensible Network (SEN), which enables companies to deploy, manage and secure WANs easily and cost effectively. Also, just as importantly, the company brings a high level of simplification to the ongoing operations and change management to the WAN. The agility of the WAN becomes increasingly important as business applications continue to evolve, requiring rapid changes to optimize the performance of the WAN.

Viptela has focused much of its launch of the security implications of today’s WAN architectures. The thesis behind Viptela’s strategy, and it’s correct, is that it’s becoming more difficult to secure WANs, as traffic patterns aren’t as well defined. If all of an organization’s traffic is from branch to data center and back to branch, security takes some work, but it’s manageable because the traffic is predictable. Mobile and cloud drive more random, chaotic traffic patterns that can originate from almost anywhere because so much of the traffic today is coming from the cloud.

Similar to CloudGenix, Viptela’s solution is based on two components: a vEdge router located in the branches and a vSmart controller, which is the data center component. The solution is then tied together with the vManage Network Management System. In essence, Viptela is bringing software defined networking to the enterprise WAN. The messaging and implementation is much like the CloudGenix launch of last week, and that should be OK for both companies. The big threat to Viptela certainly isn’t CloudGenix, and vice versa; the big threat is the status quo. The more organizations that are creating WAN agility, the more likely we’ll see a “rising tide” and a mass change in deployment strategy.

One of the things I like about the Viptela launch is that the company provided a number of use cases that IT leaders should consider the low-hanging fruit of an evolving WAN.

These include:

  • Transport-Agnostic WANs. A cost-effective way of building a WAN using any transport network, including MPLS, broadband Internet, Ethernet or LTE. • End-to-End Network Segmentation. End-to-end segmentation for secure traffic to meet compliance challenges.
  • Optimized Internet Exit. Secure localized Internet exit points to optimize the performance of cloud-based applications.
  • B2B Partner Networks. Companies can dynamically create and secure business partner connections over any transport network.
  • Encryption at Scale. Integrated encryption, key management and device authentication to secure any network infrastructure.
  • Network Service Insertion. Network services such as firewalls, IPS and load balancers can be consolidated at centralized locations or regional hubs, and application traffic can be routed through these services by policy changes.

We’ve certainly seen a fair amount of startup activity in the data center over the past few years. Given the challenges that businesses have with the WAN, it’s good to see some startups now focused on applying SDN principles to this part of the network.

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