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SD-WAN vendor Silver Peak enticing enterprise with security, routing

SD-WAN vendor Silver Peak releases an EdgeConnect update that takes the company closer to a complete branch office networking platform.

Silver Peak Inc. is the latest SD-WAN vendor to release product updates that provide a steppingstone for enterprises that might one day consider using the technology in place of firewalls and routers in the branch office.

Simplicity through consolidation is the pitch behind Silver Peak's latest release of Unity EdgeConnect. New features in the software include packet inspection to bolster security and interoperability with what the vendor likes to call "legacy routers," which implies such branch staples are relics of the past.

 "One of the key offerings of a true SD-WAN is that a customer should be able to consolidate their branch infrastructure and replace that with an SD-WAN infrastructure," said Damon Ennis, vice president of product management at Silver Peak, based in Santa Clara, Calif.

For Silver Peak to meet that lofty goal, the vendor will have to sway enterprises unwilling to trade their trusted branch routers for an upstart's technology. That's unlikely to happen soon, so Silver Peak has made EdgeConnect interoperable with networking gear from enterprise vendors, such as Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Juniper Networks.

The EdgeConnect update connects to a third-party router using the Border Gateway Protocol. BGP lets EdgeConnect tell the router where to send packets. Network administrators define the destination through the policies they create in the SD-WAN product.

SD-WAN vendors expand capabilities

Enterprises have been deploying SD-WAN technology to direct more traffic over internet connections and fewer packets over more expensive MPLS links. Companies prefer to use MPLS bandwidth only for traffic that requires low latency, such as video conferencing or IP telephony.

This use case is a driving force behind the technology's rapid adoption. Worldwide SD-WAN will grow by more than 90% annually through 2020, when it is expected to exceed $6 billion, according to IDC.

You don't want to try to become a gob-box.
Damon Ennisvice president of product management at Silver Peak

Despite the market traction, SD-WAN vendors like Silver Peak do not intend to become a one-trick pony. Besides third-party routing support, the vendor has built into EdgeConnect the first line of defense.

The new feature, called First-packet iQ, is for branch offices that do not host applications and, therefore, are unlikely to have a local firewall. First-packet iQ defends those locations through the use of a Silver Peak-hosted repository that contains the IP addresses of 10,000 online applications and the Domain names of 300 million websites. Once a day, EdgeConnect downloads the updated whitelist.

EdgeConnect uses the internet address book to send traffic to trusted destinations immediately. The rest of the traffic is sent to either a corporate firewall or to one in the cloud, depending on how administrators configure the SD-WAN product.

SD-WAN competitors

Silver Peak's competitors include CloudGenix and Viptela, which have similar security and routing capabilities in their products. To differentiate itself from rivals, Silver Peak, which claims to have 350 EdgeConnect customers, plans to maintain SD-WAN's reputation for simplicity.

To do that, the vendor will focus only on building a platform that can singlehandedly meet all the networking requirements of a branch office. "You don't want to try to become a God Box," Ennis said.

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