VMware is aligning various elements of its portfolio to be a major player in the SASE (secure access service edge) sector. Last year Gartner coined the SASE term and positioned it as the unification of enterprise access security initiatives and WAN networking platforms, including SD-WAN.
In VMware's Wednesday announcement, the company highlighted updated versions of its NSX-T 3.0 and vRealize Network Insight 5.2 software that were designed to simplify network virtualization while improving network security and visibility. Along with VMware's VeloCloud SD-WAN, NSX-T and vRealize Network Insight are part of VMware's software-defined networking (SDN) Virtual Cloud Network.
With the VMware NSX-T 3.0 and VMware vRealize Network Insight 5.2, enterprises gain higher levels of automation and insight on networking functions that span services from Layer 2 switching all the way to Layer 7 application firewall, load balancing and IDS/IPS filtering.
VMware introduced Virtual Cloud Network two years ago as a means to extend virtual networking and security capabilities from the edge to the core to the cloud for workloads that are running as virtual machines, bare metal or containers.
"We're in the very early days of SASE and more integration and innovation are going to be required in order for the industry to deliver a complete SASE vision," said Lee Doyle, principal of Doyle Research. "The integration of public cloud with IaaS, SaaS and SD-WAN through hybrid clouds to build and move workloads back and forth between VMware centric data center apps and the cloud securely is critical. The Azure edge part of the announcement is a good example of that."
VMware said its Virtual Cloud Network solution is the industry’s only complete Layer 2-7 virtual networking stack for switching, routing, firewalling and SD-WAN completely in software for enterprise, telco and 5G environments.
“Our Virtual Cloud Network solution is helping our customers provide the public cloud experience on-premise, removing the inefficient IT ticket requests and long waits for networking and security changes,” said VMware's Tom Gillis, senior vice president and general manager, networking and security business unit, in a statement. “Across private, public and telco clouds, and from the data center to the branch office, the Virtual Cloud Network has simplified networking, and saved customers time and money."
VMware said it now has in excess of 15,000 customers for its Virtual Cloud Network, including 80 of the Fortune 100 companies and eight of the top-10 telcos. Its customer based has grown 50% per year on average since 2018.
VMware is was working with Microsoft to offer SD-WAN solutions for Azure Edge Zone, which deliver Azure services and allows customers to deploy and run virtual network functions (VNFs), including VMware's SD-WAN by VeloCloud VNF, at the edge. VMware's SD-WAN solution has been integrated with the Azure portal to enable zero touch provisioning across Azure Edge Zones while reducing the complexities of the VNF life cycle management for its customers.
VMware's SD-WAN can make intelligent routing decisions based on network conditions and steer traffic to the optimal network path in order to meet customers' service level agreements along with providing a better user experience for applications such as Office 365 or Microsoft Teams.
"They (VMware) talk a lot about intent, automation or insight under the heading of visibility and analytics," Doyle said. "All of those are very interrelated capabilities, but being able to track down any slowdowns or security anomalies are critical capabilities."
Other companies, such as Cato Networks, are on the SASE bandwagon, but Doyle said large companies like Cisco and VMware have deep product portfolios that are in the process of being integrated into SASE platforms.
"The interesting thing about SASE is if you look at the Gartner document it has about 20 different acronyms in it," Doyle said. "It's very broad. A couple of those were remote access and endpoint security. Those just went up to a very high priority in SASE now that everyone is working from home. VMware nor Cisco have a ways to go. It (SASE) will be much farther down the road. The broader question now is how do companies provide high quality, secure remote access? We are likely to see an upgrade of that part of the SASE solution pretty rapidly."