Startup VeloCloud Networks emerged from stealth mode this week with a new cloud WAN service that allows an organization with multiple branches to establish a hybrid WAN with enterprise-grade security and performance over broadband Internet links.
VeloCloud is the latest in a growing list of startups trying to help enterprises reduce complexity and costs in the wide area network. Other recent entrants include vIPtela and CloudGenix.
VeloCloud's subscription-based Cloud-Delivered WAN allows enterprises to combine T1 lines, MPLS links and other enterprise network connections with broadband, DSL and 4G consumer links to deliver a hybrid WAN. The company ensures performance and reliability across the multiple forms of transport through continuous WAN monitoring, packet-by-packet traffic steering and link remediation.
VeloCloud is addressing the need for enterprises to give branch offices direct access to cloud services and the Internet across low-cost Internet links while also maintaining enterprise-grade MPLS links for critical traffic, said Lee Doyle, principal analyst for Doyle Research.
"You've got very expensive, low-speed MPLS links combined with relatively inexpensive, high-speed Internet links with no security and no SLA. That's the problem set. The question is, do you buy the Riverbed view that you will have WAN optimizers and VPN appliances at very location or do you see the possibility of a more outsourced WAN-as-a-service model which VeloCloud is talking about," Doyle said.
VeloCloud's cloud WAN service comprises three elements:
- Cloud Services Edge is a multi-purpose, zero-touch appliance that is deployed in branch offices or other enterprise locations to deliver connectivity and services.
- Cloud Services Gateways are VeloCloud's global points of presence (POP) that dynamically monitor capacity and performance to and from the customer's edge. The gateways also apply cloud-based network services and security.
- Cloud Orchestrator sits in the cloud and steers application streams based on link quality and performance.
"We're aggregating links into VeloCloud edge devices, but we're taking it to the next level without adding complexity or new devices," said Sanjay Uppal, CEO and co-founder of VeloCloud. "We do dynamic continuous monitoring of capacity and performance from the edge to the gateway. We'll measure if traffic is going from the edge to a [software as a service] application and we will determine which gateway is closest to that application. But we're also actively measuring the path, so while one path might appear to be best because it's closest, an AT&T POP might be having a bad day. So we'll send it on another route."
Roka Bioscience Inc., a Warren, New Jersey-based food safety testing company, installed VeloCloud on the interconnect between its New Jersey and California data centers, according to Daniel Churco, Roka's senior manager of IT.
"One of the goals we have with [VeloCloud] is a migration to broadband," he said. "First we are moving our VPN traffic for replication from [legacy] link balancers to VeloCloud."
Once VeloCloud offers firewall functionality through its service, Roka will replace the firewalls on either end of the data center interconnect, he said. Churco is also waiting for VeloCloud to add Network Address Translation gateway services to its cloud. Once that happens, he hopes to move his Internet-addressable servers over to VeloCloud.
Churco said installation and configuration of the cloud WAN service was easy. "We just plugged in the devices and set up IP addresses. [The devices] gave us a code that we plugged into VeloCloud's orchestrator website. We selected a VPN network, clicked OK, and it automatically provisioned our VPN services and connected the two sites. We put our VLANs into the routing and we were up and running. Instead of logging into multiple devices to manage the network and verify traffic, we were able to do it all through their portal. And we have visibility into all the devices in a single view, which makes maintenance easier."
Latus Solutions, a VeloCloud channel partner, said VeloCloud will help make WAN deployments easier for customers wrestling with mergers and acquisitions, said Latus CEO Kier Lane.
"A lot of our customers are struggling with branch offices," he said. "It's untenable with the type of architectures they have, with the equipment stack itself and then provisioning MPLS links and other network challenges."
Latus was looking for ways to simplify branch networking and help customers take advantage of broadband thus reducing their reliance on expensive MPLS links. It looked at cloud networking offerings from Meraki -- now owned by Cisco -- and Aerohive, but Lane said most branch-in-a-box options address only the branch LAN and not the WAN side of things, specifically the need to move away from an MPLS-centric strategy.
"VeloCloud gives people a way to boot up branch offices on commodity links with enterprise-grade security and performance," Lane said.
As VeloCloud rolls out, international enterprises will have to track the company's global reach, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group. Initially, VeloCloud will have about 26 cloud gateways in data centers around the world. Prospective customers will need to ensure that those gateways are relatively close to whatever branches it connects to the cloud WAN.
"A global organization needs to ask, 'What's their footprint? How well can they service all my locations?'" Laliberte said.
Many enterprises may also be slow to rip out equipment that VeloCloud conceivably makes obsolete, he said. For instance, an IT organization may not want to remove WAN optimization appliances from branches and replace them with a new cloud-based technology, at least not until those appliances reach the end of their product lifecycle.
VeloCloud's cloud service -- available now -- will have tiered subscription prices. The standard tier of 80 Mbps is $150 per branch. The enhanced tier of 160 Mbps is $250 per branch. The company will offer a premium tier of service in the future.
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