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Reports of the death of Cisco’s IWAN are greatly
exaggerated. Not only is it still alive, but the integration
of Viptela will only make it better, Cisco says.

Earlier this month, Cisco completed the acquisition of SD-WAN vendor Viptela, which it had announced in early May.

The companies’ recent news sparked several rumors about the fate of Cisco’s Intelligent WAN (IWAN), with publications writing such articles as “Is the End Near for Cisco’s IWAN?” and “Cisco’s Viptela acquisition could mean IWAN is dying or dead.” The content of the articles isn’t quite as aggressive as the headlines, but the articles have led to a number of misconceptions about what Cisco will do with its SD-WAN solution.

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Cyber security remains a hot topic with nearly every IT and business leader that I speak with. In particular, there seems to be an intensified focus on network security. Security is typically deployed in layers (network, compute and application), and I expect that model to continue in the short-term, but given the fact that many of the building blocks of digitization, such as IoT and the cloud, are network-centric, there should be a stronger focus on leveraging the network and network-based security to protect the organization.

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As containers become more prevalent, the network needs
to become a set of services that can be orchestrated and
automated. Cumulus’ Host Pack helps make that happen.

About a month ago, someone asked me to define the term “digital transformation.” At first, I thought about giving a long technical definition that mentioned the convergences of people, process and data, but then I shortened to one word — speed.

Digital transformation is all about doing things faster than the competition. This is one of those things that’s easier to say than do. Most businesses simply can’t move faster just because they want to. Instead it requires an entirely new approach to IT. Gartner uses the term “Mode 2,” but other terms are things like agile development or DevOps.

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The company’s “adaptive security platform” (ASP)
helps businesses visualize the flows in a data center.

The topic of segmentation has always had great appeal to IT and security professionals as it allows an open “everything talks to everything” environment to be shifted to one with secure “zones” where devices can’t see any other unless specifically permitted. Historically, businesses tried using virtual local area networks (VLAN) and access control lists (ACL) and those worked in static environments, but as businesses have become increasingly more dynamic, those methods proved too slow to scale.

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Software defined WANs (SD-WANs) have gained market momentum so quickly because their value proposition is multi-faceted. Some enterprises have looked to SD-WAN as a way to dramatically lower network transport costs, while others are building SD-WANs to automate network operations. One of the more common use-cases I have seen is to shift toward an “active-active” architecture.

ACTIVE-ACTIVE WAN ARCHITECTURE

Historically, WANs are built on the concept of “active-passive”, where a branch can be connected using two or more links, but only the primary link is active and passing traffic.  In this scenario, the backup connection only becomes active in the event the primary connection fails. While this might seem sensible, it’s highly inefficient as enterprises are paying for far more bandwidth than they are actually leveraging. This inefficient architectural design is driving increased interest in active-active configurations.

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Cisco jumps into the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI)
industry and creates some interesting competitive dynamics.

Last December, I wrote a post looking at “What to expect from Cisco in 2017”. It’s a foregone conclusion that Cisco will make a number of acquisitions every year, so that’s not hard to predict. The tough part is guessing the potential targets.

One of the easier acquisitions to predict was Springpath because Cisco’s HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solution is an OEM of Springpath. The two companies have been working very closely since Springpath was founded in 2012. The product has been extremely well received by customers and channel partners, resulting in a little more than 1,800 customers to date. In fact, nearly customer and channel partner wanted the companies to join.

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