SD-WAN startup Versa Networks is jumping into the crowded pool of SD-WAN vendors that aim to remake branch and remote office connectivity.
Founded by ex-Juniper Networks engineers and armed with $43 million in VC money, Versa targets carriers and service providers that want to offer SD-WAN services to customers. The company is also going after large enterprises.
If you’ve read up on any of the vendors in the SD-WAN market, you already know the value proposition: speed the provisioning of branch office connectivity; send traffic across multiple links, including MPLS and broadband; and use application ID and traffic manipulation to enable path selection based on criteria including link performance, security, and business requirements.
Versa checks all these boxes with its product, which has three main pieces: FlexVNF, Versa Director, and Versa Analytics.
FlexVNF is the controller for the branch end points. It includes the operating system; a fabric that provides virtual services such as next-gen firewall capabilities, anti-virus, VPN and more; and deep packet inspection and application awareness.
Versa Director is the management pane for deployment, orchestration, and ongoing management. Versa Analytics is a big data platform that gathers operational statistics and provides real-time and historical reporting.
Versa’s SD-WAN controller supports BGP, and emphasizes multitenant capabilities and high scalability, which would be essential for the service provider market. Versa says a provider can support multiple customers, each with thousands of their own branch sites, with a single controller.
Large enterprises can also use this multi-tenant capability. For instance, a bank might treat retail banking and investment banking branches as separate tenants on the same controller.
The SD-WAN controller can provision branches in full mesh, partial mesh, or hub-and-spoke topologies. Connections between branches are probed at regular intervals, and if an outage is detected it’s disseminated by the controller; other branches will then use alternate paths to connect to the branch with a down link.
The company offers several virtual network services, including its own next-gen firewall capability, enabling administrators to deploy granular policies around application use. It also says it can mitigate DDoS attacks. It can also send traffic through third-party devices, including most firewalls, proxies, and other security products.
Most SD-WAN vendors tout their ability to identify applications, and Versa is no exception. The company says it can identify approximately 2,500 applications, including social media and SaaS apps such as Office365.
When HTTPS is used, the company says it can still identify those applications without having to decrypt the transmission by using header information and other metadata.
For more details, you can hear from Versa Networks directly in this Tech Field Day presentation.
19 And Counting
Versa Networks is smart to target the carrier/service provider space (in addition to large enterprises) for two reasons. First, it provides competitive differentiation in a market with at least 18 other competitors, most of which are chasing the same customers, and most of which offer similar features.
By emphasizing multitenancy and scalability alongside the other table-stakes SD-WAN capabilities, Versa may be able to carve out a defensible market niche among carriers and providers.
Second, one of SD-WAN’s primary value proposition is to reduce an organization’s reliance on MPLS circuits for quality of service and security. If the MPLS market starts to erode in earnest, carriers are going to need to make up that revenue; one way to do it is offering SD-WAN as a service.
Carriers and providers could roll their own SD-WAN solution, but they can certainly get to market more quickly by adopting a ready-made product.
At the same time, Versa can hedge its carrier bets by pursuing large enterprises, thus avoiding the danger of relying solely on one market segment.