The migration of SD-WAN services to the cloud continues unabated. Citrix and VMware, the latter through its VeloCloud SD-WAN solution, both announced on Tuesday they were extending their SD-WAN solutions into Google Cloud Platform.
SD-WAN vendors moving to the cloud is more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one, as it only makes sense that enterprise customers want to be able to access and use their apps and workloads in cloud environments or on premises.
Another driver for SD-WAN partnerships with cloud service providers is that more applications are being born in the cloud or migrated to the cloud, which increases the need for secure, optimized solutions, particularly for branch offices that are accessing cloud applications over legacy WAN infrastructures.
“Extending SD-WAN to the major cloud services is going to be table stakes, so it’s only natural that many of the SD-WAN providers are now filling out their cloud alliances," said Scott Raynovich, founder and chief analyst, Futurium.
Earlier this week, Juniper Networks announced it had put a new flavor of SD-WAN into the cloud. Last year, VMware/VeloCloud and Microsoft Azure announced an SD-WAN partnership, while Versa Networks announced it was partnering with Amazon Web Services to offer SD-WAN to AWS partners. Citrix and Riverbed have also announced availability of their SD-WAN offerings on Microsoft Azure and AWS.
In addition to Google Cloud Project (GCP), VMware/VeloCloud is also working toward a deep API-level integration with Azure Virtual WAN, according to a spokeswoman. Cisco also has public cloud partnerships in place with AWS, GCP and Azure with its Viptela and Cisco SD-WAN solutions.
Citrix's Chalan Aras, vice president of SD-WAN and intelligent traffic management, said there are several drivers for SD-WAN vendors forging cloud partnership with AWS, Azure and GCP.
"It's really about the customers needs," he said. "Ultimately, enterprises are deciding that they want to extend into cloud. For some of them it's a matter of expansion, and for some it's about decommissioning their data centers, but wherever they are in their in their journey, they are taking cloud infrastructure very seriously and as a very viable option to run their applications. So, that is why you've seen quite a few players of the top SD-WAN vendors making these announcements."
Chalan said Citrix separates itself from the SD-WAN pack by using its own SDN orchestrator to help customers quickly set up connections to Google Cloud's Virtual Private Cloud.
"The Citrix SDN orchestrator is relatively unique to us," Chalan said. "Very few of the (SD-WAN) players have that level of integration and automation, especially as a cloud service. The only other one that we know of right now is VMware.
"If you look at the depth of the integration, you'll see that we're quite unique. We have API-level integration in these clouds, and we believe our level of automation, our level of integration, is quite superior to all the other solutions."
Among other features, VMware can point to its hosted multi-tenant cloud gateways for its SD-WAN service. SD-WAN is extended to Google doorsteps without having to maintain additional network components inside GCP's virtual private cloud, which is unique to the VMware/VeloCloud SD-WAN solution.
Last year Cisco and VMware started integrating their SD-WAN solutions across their product portfolios, which gives them a measure of depth, sales forces and customer relationships that most other SD-WAN vendors don't have. According to IHS Markit's fourth quarter SD-WAN report, the top-five SD-WAN vendors by revenue in the fourth quarter were, respectively VMware/VeloCloud, Cisco, Aryaka, Silver Peak and Nuage Networks, while Citrix ranked eighth.
The main reason for SD-WAN vendors to forge cloud partnership is to provide the same, or better, customer experiences for enterprises. Users want to put their own applications, SaaS applications, workloads and desktops into the cloud so they can be accessed remotely, but with the same functionality as in an office work environment.
"Why are we doing this? It is because of experience," Chalan said. "It is because they want to deliver as good or better experience for their users when they are in the cloud. For that to happen, you have to have an SD-WAN solution that that provides an always-on experience. What we mean by that is avoiding interruptions due to blackouts or brownouts because of network issues.
"If you look at our implementation of SD-WAN specifically in the cloud or otherwise, we can provide a higher rate resiliency than the other providers that are attempting to do this."
Citrix faces formidable competition from the vendors that rank above it on IHS Markit's fourth quarter revenue rankings, particularly against the top five vendors.