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Cisco's SD-WAN Version 17.8 supports OnRamp for more apps

The newest version of Cisco's SD-WAN brings Cloud OnRamp support to NBAR applications like Slack or GitHub and custom apps and adds greater visibility.

Cisco has released an updated version of its SD-WAN to enable customers to connect a wider range of applications.

Version 17.8 adds Cloud OnRamp support for two types of apps: custom applications and Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR). The update ensures connections to those applications have low latency and little jitter by automatically selecting optimal paths to route traffic.

NBAR applications includes apps such as Slack, GitHub and Workday. This update adds to the 14 top business applications already supported, including Microsoft 365, Amazon Web Services' apps, Salesforce, Dropbox and GoToMeeting.

Cloud OnRamp for SaaS is an extension of Cisco's SD-WAN that automatically probes different routing paths to the same endpoint to help businesses ensure they are connecting to that resource with the least latency, jitter and packet loss possible. The 17.8 update will ensure that Cloud OnRamp users connecting to NBAR or custom applications experience the same quality of connection as they would when trying to access AWS or Webex.

Cisco claims its customers are moving on-premises applications into cloud-hosted data centers, and Cloud OnRamp can help with performance.

"It can make sure that the user experience doesn't really deteriorate or suffer, just because now you're using an application which is not local," said Jeevan Sharma, a senior product manager at Cisco.  

Cisco's support for more applications gives the company a way to remain competitive in a crowded SD-WAN marketplace, which includes VMware, Aruba, Citrix and Fortinet.

The update also enhances Cisco vAnalytics to provide a greater degree of visibility into traffic flows to and from applications. Network administrators can use application-level telemetry, including the volume of data flowing over a connection and the number of users connecting to a resource over a given period, to establish a baseline of what application traffic flows should look like when functioning normally, which helps network managers to troubleshoot when a problem occurs.

"As more organizations deploy applications in the cloud, it will be important to have visibility into those connections," said Bob Laliberte, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group. "Traditionally it has been harder to pull information related to SaaS applications [versus IaaS], so this insight will be nice addition."

When launching Cloud OnRamp support for Webex in January, Cisco's senior director of product management for SD-WAN Raj Gulani detailed Cisco's roadmap for the service. The first priority was to enable SD-WAN connectivity for cloud environments, followed by security, then multi-cloud. Now, Cisco is focused on application performance and SaaS optimization, and is beginning to work on increasing automation and observability.

"Connectivity, security, reachability, packet loss, jitter -- it's just a means to an end," Gulani said in an interview in January. "The end is a delightful experience for any user trying to access any application, whether it is in the data center, in the cloud or a URL pointing to a SaaS application."

The 17.8 update also includes the expansion of Layer-7 Application Health Check support to include additional security vendors McAfee, Symantec and Palo Alto. Supporting a wider array of vendors will help customers with heterogeneous network environments to automatically redirect traffic through secure channels should a Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) become unreachable, according to Cisco.

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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