Intelligent WAN (iWAN) is a Cisco SD-WAN product that was built from an existing Cisco product (also called iWAN). Cisco’s iWAN provides traffic control and security features for the WAN that has been integrated into Cisco branch-office routers. Cisco says its iWAN product provides customers with capabilities similar to MPLS VPN, such as quality of service, WAN optimization, and VPN tunneling.
Cisco suggests that customers use the iWAN in conjunction with its integrated services router (ISR) so that they can then dynamically route traffic based on application, endpoint, and network conditions. This scenario will help users migrate traffic off MPLS to lower cost connections.
iWAN service provider customers include Verizon, British Telecom, Orange Business Services, Vodafone, Telstra, and SFR. Verizon, which deployed the product in 2015, says it is using iWAN to provide enterprise customers with a platform that lets them use the intelligent path control to select alternative network connections so they get lower operational costs.
iWAN and SD-WAN Controllers
Cisco has developed an Application Policy Infrastructure Controller Enterprise Module (APIC-EM) to automate IWAN feature configuration. APIC-EM is a controller for managing and operating software-defined networking (SDN).
APIC-EM lets enterprise customers control iWAN for their branch offices. But it’s not designed for service providers to offer managed SD-WAN for their enterprise customers.
Using iWAN to Reduce Bottlenecks
To reduce network traffic bottlenecks between the branch router and the public Internet, Cisco has partnered with Akamai Technologies and is using Akamai to create a cache on the branch router. This eliminates the need to download files multiple times.
Cisco also is using Wide Area Application Services (WAAS) to reduce latency and traffic across dedicated links. By teaming with application vendors, Cisco can optimize the performance of popular applications by reducing the amount of time data is exchanged between the application components.