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Nuage adapts network overlay for software-defined WAN

Nuage's new Virtualized Network Services software expands its overlay to remote sites for software-defined WAN.

Nuage Networks is extending its overlay network from the data center to the wide-area network with its new Virtualized Network Services software.

Nuage's original product, the Virtualized Services Platform (VSP), is a software overlay designed to automate network connectivity in heavily virtualized and cloud data centers. Virtualized Network Services (VNS) extends Nuage's platform to the software-defined WAN by adapting VSP's existing control plane to work with software endpoints that operate as WAN gateways, particularly in branch locations.

"VNS extends on Nuage's offering and provides a cohesive, policy-based environment from the data center to the WAN to the branch," said Houman Modarres, senior director of marketing at Nuage. VNS is a virtual routing and switching component that runs as a bare-metal workload on a standard server. It allows an enterprise or service provider to centrally provision network connectivity and services across multiple carriers and transport types, including MPLS and broadband Internet.

Nuage is venturing from one crowded market (data center network virtualization) into another (software-defined WAN), where a bevy of startups have emerged recently, including Viptela, CloudGenix, VeloCloud and Glue Networks.

"[Nuage's] key area of differentiation is that they have a data center platform to pull from," said Andrew Lerner, research director at Gartner. "Others don't have that platform or footprint in the data center. If you are [a networking] organization, would you rather use two different platforms? No, you want to use one platform. They can leverage an existing footprint and solve two different challenges for their clients."

Some of the other software-defined WAN startups offer advanced capabilities such as traffic steering and network link health monitoring, which Nuage doesn't offer today. But Lerner said Nuage solves the problems that enterprises are most interested in addressing today. "It comes down to reduced costs on circuits, simplified management and orchestration, and security at scale," he said. "Nuage checks those three boxes, and they can do it in the data center and the WAN."

Nuage's pivot toward the WAN makes business sense, because enterprises have a bigger appetite for SDN technologies in the WAN than in the data center, said Andre Kindness, principal analyst with Forrester Research.

"[The WAN] is a bigger mess than in the data center," Kindness said. "If you went to ONUG [Open Networking User Group] this fall, 99% of the use cases people talked about were in the WAN. … One reason why is that, unlike in the data center, you don't have to deal with servers, storage, virtualization and multiple teams. The network team owns the WAN. There is only one group to talk to. It's an easier beachhead for SDN."

Nuage also gets to compete with brand-new startups in the WAN, whereas it was up against titans like Cisco and VMware in the data center, Kindness said. However, Cisco is expected to go after the WAN market with its iWAN technology and its APIC Enterprise Module controller. Service providers will be looking at software like Nuage VNS to deliver virtual customer-premises equipment, and Nuage's roots as an Alcatel-Lucent subsidiary will open some doors, Kindness said.

Nuage VNS will serve as a gateway that delivers three classes of network services in remote offices, said Rotem Salomonovitch, Nuage's head of VNS product management. It will deliver the first two classes of network services on its own, but it will lean on technology partners to deliver the third group of services.

First, VNS will deliver basic LAN services at the remote location, such as user authentication, network access control and wireless LAN control. Second, it will offer basic Layer 4 services, such as DHCP, DNS, Network Address Translation, Quality of Service and HTTP proxy. Finally, it will serve as a delivery platform for third-party Layer 7 services such as application aware firewalls and application delivery controllers. Nuage is working with partners, including Palo Alto Networks and F5 Networks, to extend that last group of network services to VNS, Salomonovitch said.

Nuage will deliver some of these network services locally at the remote site, he said. Other services might be delivered centrally or in the cloud. Nuage's role will be to chain those services together so that traffic goes to the right location to have network services applied to it, he said.

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