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Citrix and the future of SD-WAN

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Brendan McAravey, country manager at Citrix South Africa, examines what the Cisco acquisition of Viptela means for the direction of SD-WAN.
For those that haven’t been following the rapidly growing SD-WAN market, Cisco’s acquisition of Viptela may seem to have come out of the blue. After all, $610-milion is a hefty premium for a very young company with an estimated $30-million in annual revenue. But for those of us who have been immersed in SD-WAN for the last several years, it doesn’t come as a surprise at all.
SD-WAN is poised to cause radical disruption in enterprise networks, shaking up the MPLS/ISR technology that has dominated the branch WAN network for the last 20 years. And this move by Cisco validates the predictions from Gartner, IDC, and others that SD-WAN is not only growing, but beginning to cut into traditional networking sales.
The future is SD-WAN solutions that are built for the cloud. Applications are moving to the cloud as software as a service (SaaS) use grows and datacentres applications shift to public cloud. This shift requires a new way of thinking about the WAN and the branch network.
This shift is one where routing takes a back seat to secure and reliable connections from the branch to applications while cumbersome command line interfaces are replaced by simple configurations and business intent policies. In simple terms, the CLI should be gone and SaaS should be the primary consideration.
Will this precipitate more consolidation in the SD-WAN market? It may! The flurry of SD-WAN start-ups in the last several years has resulted in too many competing solutions without sufficient differentiation. It’s entirely possible that many of them will be acquired and their technology subsumed or discarded by bigger legacy networking vendors.
Citrix offers NetScaler, which combines real-time path selection, edge routeing, end-to-end QoS, and WAN optimisation and delivers the mobile workspace to the branch securely, reliably, and efficiently. It ensures business continuity and IT disaster recovery, lowers WAN costs, improves app performance for mobile, remote, and branch users, and improves Skype for Business performance and quality.
What makes NetScaler unique is the fact that we don’t require customers to set certain applications to certain paths. We are able to inform our clients in real time which is the best path to use — packet by packet rather than by application. NetScaler also offers zero-touch deployment, and very minimal intervention is required at the branch level.
SD-WAN is here to stay. It’s already causing disruption in telecom service providers’ profits and networking vendors’ market share. If you haven’t yet looked at SD-WAN, this should be a wakeup call to explore whether this technology can help your business.
As with many new technologies, the initial explosion of start-ups will subside to a few successful companies. Make sure you’re working with a company that is investing in its SD-WAN technology and is built to last. This may not be the best time to commit to a vulnerable start-up.
Make sure your network is looking forward, not back. While routers and MPLS have served the branch well in a datacentre-centric network, it’s time to look toward the cloud and the Internet and work with companies who are experts in application delivery.