Palo Alto beefs-up its SD-WAN menu with machine learning, analytics

Palo Alto upgrades the SD-WAN gear it bought via CloudGenix with machine learning and artificial intelligence to embrace cloud deployment

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With an eye toward adding intelligence and growing deployment options, Palo Alto Networks has rolled out analytics, machine learning, and  new hardware appliances for its recently acquired SD-WAN package.

The company bought cloud-based SD-WAN vendor CloudGenix earlier this year for $420 million and promised to integrate and augment CloudGenix's intelligent cloud-managed SD-WAN products and technology as well as integrate it with Palo Alto’s cloud-based security package Prisma.

Prisma includes access control, advanced threat protection, user behavior monitoring and  other services that promise to protect enterprise applications and resources.  Palo Alto says CloudGenix SD-WAN now integrates with Prisma Access so customers can secure branch traffic as well as traffic from the branch to any applications hosted in public or private cloud. In this case, the company has added machine learning (ML) and analytics features to CloudGenix SD-WAN. 

On the ML side, the system can now correlate alarms and automatically find and identify the common root-cause of problems and when possible, automate problem resolution, said Anand Oswal senior vice president and GM at Palo Alto.

The new analytics support helps customers with  capacity planning by letting operators understand what WAN connections they are using, when they are using them, and what applications are driving that use, Oswal said.

The idea is to reduce  problem-resolution times and increase application uptime, which is key as customers deploy SD-WANs to connect to cloud-based resources and remote, home-based workers, Oswal said.

Certainly, the need for increased visibility, intelligence and analytics, from the endpoint all way to the cloud, are driving needs for SD-WAN customers, said Rohit Mehra, vice president, Network Infrastructure for IDC.

Using ML and AI gives scale to the CloudGenix and Palo Alto intelligent cloud-based engine. And the fact that it is always learning from customer sites and responding to problems helps improve operations, eliminate day-to-day IT hassles and free network and security staff do higher level activities, Mehra said.

In addition to the software enhancements, Palo Alto rolled out two SD-WAN appliances.

New appliances

The high-end CloudGenix ION 9000 is the company’s largest SD-WAN appliance, offering twice the performance of the curren flagship device, the ION 7000. It is aimed at large branches and campus locations that need multi-gigabit throughput and high-availability. 

At the low end, the CloudGenix ION 1000 is a small-form-factor SD-WAN appliance designed for retail and small offices/home offices (SOHO). The ION 1000 is fanless and small enough to be set up where space is tight, the company said.

As organizations re-architect their telework environment to support increasing nubers of remote workers, the ION 1000 enables controls for  home-office performance, availability and security that is consistent with enterprise policies,  Oswal said.

“The ION 9000 will be great for customers looking to build out edge locations and as customers build bigger branch offices – likely next year sometime,” Mehra said. “The smaller 1000 is interesting because lots of employees doing work from home or very small business that have need for security and productivity applications.”

The ML, analytics and Prisma Access security integration capabilities are available now through CloudGenix 5.4 and CloudBlades 2.0. The CloudGenix ION 1000 and ION 9000 are available now.

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