WLAN vendor Mist has announced a partnership with VMware’s VeloCloud SD-WAN solution, in which Mist can interoperate with VeloCloud to improve visibility into, and troubleshooting of, wireless and WAN performance.
Mist provides a cloud-based wireless controller and administrative interface for its APs. This cloud controller can make API calls to VeloCloud’s controller to ingest WAN events into Mist’s cloud, correlate and analyze those events, and surface up relevant details via Mist’s UI.
The goal is to help network admins identify the root cause of performance problems more quickly. For instance, if a branch user complains about the wireless network, an administrator can go into the Mist console to investigate. If he or she determines it’s not the WLAN, they can check VeloCloud’s WAN metrics without having to switch consoles.
Mist also says it has plans to enable Mist administrators to launch directly into the VeloCloud administrative UI from the Mist UI, but that’s a roadmap feature.
At present, Mist isn’t able to make policy changes to the WAN or remediate WAN issues; that still has to happen via VeloCloud’s console.
Mist says it plans to announce partnerships other network vendors, but it started with VeloCloud because of joint customers.
Try Before You Buy?
This is pure speculation on my part, but I wonder if VMware’s interest in this partnership is a “try before you buy” kind of deal. VMware has already encroached on Cisco’s territory with NSX in the data center and VeloCloud for the WAN.
If VMware is serious about playing in the enterprise network, a WLAN solution would allow the company to extend its presence in branch networking and open a major front in the campus.
As a cloud-managed WLAN vendor, Mist would give VMware a counter to Cisco Meraki (which has its own SD-WAN solution along with cloud-managed WLAN).
In addition, Mist positions itself as a machine-learning and AI-driven company that aims to drive automation and detailed operational insight across the networking stack. On paper, that sounds very compatible with VeloCloud and NSX.
Vendors are also going after the branch with renewed vigor, and looking for ways to integrate SD-WAN and branch networking. For instance, Aruba Networks recently made its own foray into SD-WAN with its SD-Branch announcement, where a significant part of its value proposition is unified management of wired, wireless, and WAN networking at the branch.
And Arista Networks just acquired WLAN vendor Mojo Networks as part of Arista’s efforts to extend its own presence in the campus and branch.
Of course, this VMware/Mist announcement could also just be a plain old partnership, with no ulterior motives. We’ll have to see.