Exclusives Tech Talks Viptela Viptela SD-WAN

The Reality of SD-WAN, the Rise of Real-World Deployments with Viptela

  1. Solving Industry-Agnostic Complexities with SD-WAN and Viptela
  2. The Reality of SD-WAN, the Rise of Real-World Deployments with Viptela
  3. What Motivates A Carrier Towards SD-WAN?
  4. The Journey Towards SD-WAN
  5. The Hidden Benefits of SD-WAN Cost Savings

Many vendors have entered the Software Defined WAN space promising manageability, flexibility, and a policy-driven network. In this increasingly crowded space, Viptela stands out as a leading vendor that delivers production deployments with rave customer reviews.

Why SD-WAN?

Current network architectures are inherently wasteful. Redundant hardware and multiple links mitigate hardware failure but often remain dormant. Diverse WAN circuits alleviate the impact of connectivity loss but come with high monthly costs for bandwidth that remains unused.
Some progress has been made in the datacenter where layer 2 technologies like VPC and MLAG enable the full use of redundant links. On the WAN, however, current layer 3 technologies do not provide mechanisms to reliably and intelligently utilize diverse circuits on a manageable scale. Because of these complexities, most organizations have redundant WAN circuits that remain un-utilized until a primary circuit fails.
As bandwidth demands increase while the cost of MPLS circuits remains high, organizations need a new way to conceptualize, implement, and manage WAN connectivity. This need has given rise to the Software Defined WAN.

Enter Viptela

Viptela publicly introduced their vision for the Software Defined WAN at ONUG in May 2014. Around the same time, their first customers deployed Viptela routers in production. Since then, their growth has skyrocketed to include the largest production SD-WAN deployment in the world.

Today, Viptela boasts over 25 Fortune 500 customers and over 12,000 production sites across six continents. These numbers are impressive, yet we’ve all been bombarded with exaggerated numbers from networking vendors trying to hawk their wares. What makes Viptela different?
The Proof is in the Pudding

Vendors laud the benefits of their products — we expect no less from them. But in conversations with colleagues and implementers we learn the whole truth. We ask questions like:

  • Do you implement this product in production?
  • How difficult was the solution to deploy and manage?
  • Did you experience support issues along the way?
  • Was it hard to make a business case to implement this product?

The answers we receive from friends and colleagues shed light on hidden challenges, technical limitations, and buggy solutions that hide behind glossy slide decks.

With Viptela, however, several large customers with national and international deployments enthusiastically recommend their platform. Customers like the retail giant Gap and the international test and measurement manufacturer Agilent Technologies share openly their success in reducing costs and improving operational efficiency. At ONUG Spring 2016, Pascal Heger of Agilent shared their detailed process for evaluating and selecting an SD-WAN solution.

Based on initial selection criteria, Agilent selected 3 SD-WAN vendors to spend a full week in the lab to prove out their technology. Given 5 days for testing, Heger was blown away when Viptela completed full scale testing in only 3 days. As they implemented Viptela routers in their production pilot locations, they were equally pleased with the solution. They evaluated everything from simple routing operations to complex functions like app-based routing and layer 4-7 service insertion with great success.

In production pilot locations, Agilent implemented Tier 1 Internet connectivity instead of MPLS and realized a dramatic reduction in circuit costs — over 80% on a per megabit basis. With this cost reduction, Agilent will increase transport redundancy from 12 major sites to 76 important locations. In addition to all of these gains, the templated approach of Viptela’s vManage network management system has improved their adherence to standards and reduced the complexity of audit and compliance.

Such facts are hard to ignore.

Vision Meets Reality

Viptela presents a compelling vision for the future of SD-WAN with these five architectural components:

  • Transport independence
  • Security at routing scale
  • Network-wide segmentation
  • Centrally enforceable policy and business logic
  • Layer 4-7 service insertion on demand

Network engineers respond to these bullets on a slide deck with a hearty, “Yes, please!” But more compelling than vendor promises are customers willing to share their successes in making these promises a reality.

About the author

Eyvonne Sharp

Eyvonne Sharp is a network architect for a Fortune 100 healthcare enterprise. She's a co-founder of Network Collective, a bi-weekly video roundtable where network engineers talk about industry trends, challenging projects, and what it takes to do network engineering day-to-day. Before working in the enterprise, she spent 10 years working for small VARs and integrators in the SMB space.

You can find her on twitter @SharpNetwork and she blogs intermittently at http://esharp.net.

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