In May 2017, Cisco announced its acquisition of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) company Viptela for $610 million. Viptela’s cloud-first, the software-driven approach was attractive to Cisco as a way to expand its portfolio.
For its own part, Viptela provides SD-WAN technologies to a number of Fortune 500 companies and carriers such as Verizon. Its SD-WAN solution simplifies management, increases agility, and reduces the costs associated with interconnecting dispersed enterprise networks.
Viptela SD-WAN Origins
Viptela was formed by the triumvirate of Alcatel Lucent, Cisco, and Juniper Networks network architects working on Software Defined Networking (SDN) at the WAN level. The resulting solution—Viptela Secure Extensible Network (SEN)—tackled architecture transformation in five steps:
- Transport independence. Viptela SD-WAN disaggregates the service from the physical network, building an overlay on top of whatever forms of connectivity an organization has. This enables transport independence, not tied to any particular form of service.
- Security at routing scale. Viptela SD-WAN provides security in the form of encryption and device authentication. The founders applied their expertise in routing protocols to develop a solution that provides encryption and security from an any-to-any perspective. The Viptela router can connect all entities and automatically route traffic between those as if they were on one seamless VPN connection.
- Network-wide segmentation. Because Viptela technology enables the overlay, the company can segment the network on an end-to-end basis. The Viptela SD-WAN allows an enterprise to build multiple logical topologies any way they want, and each of these different segments of the network can have different encryption schemes.
- Enforce policy and business logic centrally. Each network location enforces the policies of a specific location, but all of the locations are influenced by the centralized controller. If necessary, an organization can have multiple controllers to meet resiliency requirements.
- Insert Layer 4-7 services on demand. Viptela SD-WAN enables Layer 4–7 network services to be advertised, enabling organizations to spin up any third-party service on the network and connect it to the Viptela overlay. Then anyone wanting to use those services sets a centralized policy to direct traffic to that particular location.
Viptela SD-WAN Components
The primary components of the Viptela SD-WAN solution today are the following:
- vSmart Controller—Central management of routing, policy, security, segmentation, and authentication of devices
- vManage—A centralized dashboard for configuration and management
- vEdge Routers—Full-featured IP routers that perform standard functions such as BGP, OSPF, ACLs, QoS, and various routing policies in addition to the overlay communication.
- vBond Orchestrator—Initial authentication and authorization of all elements into the network; provides the information on how each of the components connects to other components.
Viptela SD-WAN’s key differentiator is that it is an open, software-based solution that is flexible and easy to deploy. Customers have the freedom to implement it as an on-premises workload or in the cloud—giving customers a simple, cloud-managed Viptela SD-WAN solution that leverages existing hardware.