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Cisco teases new capabilities with SD-WAN update

Cisco SD-WAN 17.10 enhancements give enterprises the option of using security service edge providers Cloudflare and Netskope in secure access service edge deployments.

Cisco plans to release an update this month to its software-defined WAN that will make the product more conducive to multi-cloud networking and SaaS applications.

Cisco SD-WAN release 17.10, expected by mid-month, will simplify connecting to multiple infrastructure or SaaS providers, said Shamus McGillicuddy, vice president of research, network management at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).

"EMA expects multi-cloud networking to be a major focus for enterprises in 2023, and SD-WAN is one technology that can enable this," he said.

One of the latest enhancements is in the SD-WAN extension Cloud OnRamp for SaaS, which uses real-time analytics to give users the best path for application performance. The product will ingest additional telemetry to provide advanced insights into network performance affecting Cisco's Webex collaboration platform.

Pairing an SD-WAN with a public cloud for site-to-site connectivity is another growing trend, according to Brandon Butler, a research manager at IDC. Cisco has a cloud networking partnership, Cloud Hub with Azure Virtual WAN. This partnership provides site-to-site connectivity using Microsoft's global cloud infrastructure, Azure Virtual WAN, as the middle-mile WAN. In this case, Cisco is the SD-WAN provider and Microsoft is the public cloud provider with Azure Virtual WAN.

"Cisco has embraced this trend by enabling SD-WAN to act as an overlay to manage network architectures that leverage the cloud provider's backbone," Butler said. "This will be particularly useful for customers who have or are planning to migrate significant workloads to the cloud and need to make them globally available."

Another trend highlighted by the SD-WAN update is secure access service edge (SASE) openness, according to McGillicuddy. With Cisco's 17.9 release, the company started offering third-party vendor integration with secure service edge (SSE) provider Zscaler security. With the 17.10 release, Cisco will expand its offerings through integration with SSE providers Cloudflare and Netskope.

Vendors like Cisco are bucking [trends] by integrating its SD-WAN solution with third-party SSE solutions.
Shamus McGillicuddyVice president of research, network management, Enterprise Management Associates

Customers that prefer to work with only Cisco can deploy its SD-WAN with Umbrella, Cisco's cloud-based secure web gateway (SWG) platform.

"Gartner has preached that SASE should be single architecture that combines SSE and SD-WAN into one platform," McGillicuddy said. "But vendors like Cisco are bucking that trend by integrating its SD-WAN solution with third-party SSE solutions like NetSkope and Zscaler."

Netskope recently purchased Infiot, which provides zero trust network access and SD-WAN capabilities, according to McGillicuddy.

"So technically, NetSkope has moved toward having a full SASE stack, but it remains open to integrating with Cisco," he said. "All this points to the fact that many enterprises don't necessarily want a single-vendor SASE solution. They want their incumbent vendors to work together to deliver a combined solution."

Butler agreed, saying, "It behooves SD-WAN vendors to enable choice for their customers in whatever security architectures they'd like to support."

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