Silver Peak launched Unity EdgeConnect today, focusing on delivering high performance broadband to the wide area network (WAN). Silver Peak CEO David Hughes says the announcement is meant to address branch connectivity issues that many customers are facing today.
“The enterprise network and the WAN are all about connecting users to applications,” says Hughes. “MPLS has been the WAN of choice for some years now, and when it came out, it was a good choice. But in the last 10 to 15 years, things have stagnated. People are happy in one sense with the predictability and reliability of MPLS, but they are frustrated because it’s rigid and expensive, and most importantly, it’s not architected to operate in conjunction with cloud services.”
With “cloud-agility” and “cloud-speed” acting as the buzzwords of late, a model that doesn’t coincide with the cloud vision of many businesses has resulted in Silver Peak creating the anti-MPLS model with its Unity EdgeConnect product family. With it, customers can use broadband Internet connections to modify or replace current MPLS networks, resulting in higher responsivity, heightened application performance, and lower operating expenditures.
Customers have long wanted a way out of the traditional MPLS route, Hughes says. Applications no longer reside solely in the data center. Applications are fluid, and with their movement to the cloud, users are connecting with applications in several different ways.
Delivered in both physical and virtual environments, Unity EdgeConnect constructs a virtual network overlay, allowing enterprises to avoid having to replace routers and firewalls at branch offices. With Unity EdgeConnect, customers can move to a broadband WAN on their own timeframes, whether site-by-site, or via a hybrid WAN approach that uses both MPLS and broadband Internet connectivity, also known now as the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). The Unity portfolio is an SD-WAN fabric and has been fundamental to Silver Peak since day one, says Hughes, but has been augmented a lot over the course of the last 12 to 18 months.
Hughes says that while looking to an Internet option is the obvious alternative, enterprises still have certain concerns that must be quelled, specifically pertaining to performance, security, and visibility.
“With MPLS, enterprises get 99 percent uptime guarantees, but with Internet, you don’t get that promise. What do you do about service quality issues?” he points out. “On the security front, enterprises want to take more advantage of the cloud, but they are concerned about additional risks. And if you want to go with a more distributed approach, enterprises need to do that without losing the visibility and control they have now.”
As an overlay, Unity EdgeConnect’s connectivity decisions are made without carriers, bypassing long procurement and deployment delays. Connectivity can be rapidly extended, moved, or changed to meet business demands. With a plug-and-play deployment model, Unity EdgeConnect can be implemented at a branch office in seconds, automatically connecting with other Silver Peak instances in the data center, other branches, or in the cloud through Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) using something like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, or VMware’s vCloud Air.
Today’s announcement includes the Orchestrator software, which can be deployed in the data center or cloud. It appears as a newly discovered branch, and the network administrator can decide to accept it or not. Automatically pre-configured to the business policies of those branches, the Orchestrator allows for deployment automation and keeps service near the network level. In addition to the components that come standard, Silver Peak is also offering Unity Boost, a performance pack that accelerates applications as needed, in conjunction with EdgeConnect.
The new Unity family of products and services is available as of today. Pricing for Unity EdgeConnect, which includes Unity Orchestrator, begins at $199 per site per month. Unity Boost is an optional addition that can be ordered on-demand and is priced based on networkwide aggregate bandwidth.