VMware’s VeloCloud business has consistently topped the SD-WAN charts since VMware purchased Velocloud in November 2017.
According to IHS, VMware’s $73.2 million in revenues during the fourth quarter of last year led the SD-WAN market, beating out Cisco and Aryaka. And in Gartner’s first Magic Quadrant for WAN Edge Infrastructure, it was placed in the top position for completeness of vision and shared the Leaders quadrant with Cisco and Silver Peak.
During its first full fiscal year under VMware’s wing, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger has publicly praised VeloCloud as one of its “hottest” products.
According to Sanjay Uppal, vice president and general manager of VeloCloud, the unit has seen triple-digit growth, has more than 3,500 enterprise customers and 70 service provider customers, and has doubled it team and quadrupled its sales force since the acquisition.
The SD-WAN market is becoming increasingly consolidated, so being acquired certainly did boost VeloCloud. According to Uppal, the acquisition and subsequent integration has had three main benefits to VeloCloud: it has “more feet on the street” sales wise; it has gotten a boost from the complementary VMware products, including everything from VMware’s compute stack to NSX Virtualization; and it now falls under the Dell Technologies umbrella so it benefits from Dell’s supply chain and hardware capabilities.
Uppal added that this has enabled VeloCloud to focus on the technology and where its SD-WAN (and the greater market) are heading next.
Roadmap: SD-WAN to Network Edge
In looking toward what’s next for SD-WAN, VeloCloud thinks that might mean a new name.
“Since it’s broader than just traditional or the current definition of SD-WAN, we’re calling it the network edge,” said Uppal. “We think we’re leading the charge on this because that’s actually how we constructed VeloCloud in the first place: we had an idea/concept, we built a prototype, we put it in the hands of 10 to 15 customers, they gave us some feedback. I tell my team each feedback is like a flashlight to us — it illuminates the distance ahead.”
Based on that customer feedback there are five areas in which VeloCloud has, or is planning to, expand its SD-WAN.
The first area is bringing edge compute into the VeloCloud platform. Uppal said this could include bringing containers or virtual machines (VMs) into the platform. This fits within VMware’s current edge strategy, which includes a device edge, compute edge, and network edge (VeloCloud) that can be individual appliances or collapsed into one device.
“One of the incarnations of this is you can have a device edge, a compute edge all running on a VeloCloud appliance and so you have to think of these as virtual functions that can build together on different hardware platforms depending on the vertical, the needs of the client, the size of the install, and things like that,” Uppal said.
The second area is bringing in 5G as an underlay intelligence. At MWC Barcelona, VMware said that it would be working with AT&T to run its SD-WAN on top of 5G. Uppal says the combination will enable them to be able to intelligently prioritize traffic over the 5G network. The two main 5G benefits that will be in play here are lower latency and on-demand service level agreements (SLAs), which will enable specific connections on specific network slices.
Third, VeloCloud has begun to implement gateway federations. Its gateways create a multi-tenanted edge very close to a company’s cloud applications — “with the gateway you can hear the traffic,” Uppal said. Currently, VeloCloud has the ability for gateway federation between a telco cloud and VeloCloud and is working to enable this federation between two telecom clouds.
Fourth, it is working to bring hybrid- and multi-cloud integrations. “We at VeloCloud were the first to say applications are moving to the cloud, the network cannot bring you back just to your data center, because what happens to those applications that are sitting in the cloud?” said Uppal. “So we came up with this idea for the gateways and multi-tenanted access to that public cloud.”
As most companies rely on more than one cloud for individual workloads, VeloCloud is working from a networking perspective in helping split the workload between different clouds. It’s envisioning a drop-down menu: “Pick the public cloud of your choice (there could be more than one of them) and traffic will be skewed the right way,” Uppal said.
On this, it partnered with Microsoft last year to connect Azure workloads to both the VMware SD-WAN platform and its NSX Data Center platform.
And finally, VeloCloud is making a move to deliver SD-WAN as-a-platform. “It makes things simpler for the enterprise and we can use our platform out there to spin up new virtual functions whether it’s compute or VNF or whatever — so SD-WAN is truly becoming a platform,” said Uppal. “SD-WAN becoming the platform provides integrations with all these other companies out there so that there can be simplicity and cost savings for the enterprise.”
In February, VMware-VeloCloud made a number of announcements to this end. It named Adva and Telco Systems as partners that are adding VeloCloud’s virtual network function (VNF) as middleware on their uCPEs.
Uppal said that when prompted a year and a half ago about whether uCPE’s would be a viable option or not, he replied “uCPE is for the rich.”
However, he has seen a shift. “Companies like Adva, Telco Systems, [and] Ekinops have been able to streamline that so I’m actually seeing now at the end of the last four months or so that telcos in particular are gravitating at least a portion of their business toward the uCPE model — it saves a lot for them,” Uppal said. “And that’s the reason why on our own we have unlimited number of VNFs in our uCPE.”
Uppal clarified that the number of VNFs still depends on the box size and the number of cores. But it is theoretically unlimited, even though it has only so far qualified a few VNFs.
In addition, it brought in SevOne, Plixer, and Ekinops OneAccess to deliver analytics capabilities and RingCentral to be the “premier uCaaS [unified communications-as-a-service] provider that can make use of VeloCloud’s SD-WAN.
This platform also includes security. VeloCloud has a Layer 7 application firewall built into its device, and also has partnered with Palo Alto Networks and Checkpoint to deliver VNFs to VeloCloud. In addition, it can use Symantec and zScaler on the cloud side to help secure the platform.
Adding analytics — such as SevOne, Plixer, and OneAccess — will also have security benefits in terms of finding anomalous behavior.