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Mist Systems gives VMware NSX SD-WAN a boost

Arista Networks and VMware are focusing on Wi-Fi to bolster products for the wireless LAN. Wi-Fi vendor Mist is strengthening VMware's NSX SD-WAN and Arista has acquired Mojo.

Arista Networks and VMware, both recent entrants in campus and branch office networking, have made significant moves to add cloud-based Wi-Fi management and analytics to their respective software portfolios.

VMware launched this week interoperability between its NSX SD-WAN and Mist Systems' machine learning engine for maintaining Wi-Fi performance. Meanwhile, Arista acquired Mojo Networks for the startup's analytics, which it calls Cognitive WiFi.

Arista's purchase of Mojo shows the former vendor taking control over its Wi-Fi offering, rather than depend solely on its current deal to offer Aruba wireless products from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said Bill Menezes, an analyst at Gartner. "[They're] going to have much more input and control over the pace of tech development."

The VMware-Mist collaboration, on the other hand, reflects an industry trend of connecting the wireless access layer in remote offices to an SD-WAN product, Menezes said.

"That's something that most of the major vendors are looking at in one way or another," he said. "Some of them, like Cisco and Aruba, are developing that capability in-house."

Mist is providing interoperability between its products and NSX SD-WAN through open APIs. As a result, the combined products deliver to IT administrators "end-to-end visibility and insight into users, application and network performance for LAN and WAN," the companies said in a statement. Other features include trend detection and recommendations to avoid problems, and event correlation and anomaly detection for fault isolation and remediation.

Mist combines big data and machine learning to track user behavior on Wi-Fi and ensure network performance. The company's machine learning engine will help NSX SD-WAN analytics by gathering more than 100 different user states from access points (APs).

Metrics gathered by Mist technology include the time it takes an AP to connect to devices and the number of failed attempts. The system can also collect roaming data, such as when a mobile device switches APs to take advantage of a stronger signal or leaves an AP that's dropping too much data.

Mist will also add to NSX SD-WAN anomaly detection for APs, mobile devices, operating systems and applications connecting to Wi-Fi. Mist and VMware will sell their products separately through joint channel partners.

In 2017, VMware entered the market for branch-office networking with the acquisition of software-defined WAN vendor VeloCloud. In May, VMware extended its virtual networking software, NSX, to remote offices through integration with VeloCloud, which the company renamed NSX SD-WAN. Combining the technologies made it possible for VMware customers to use NSX for policy-based network management across the data center and branch.

Arista acquires Mojo

The VMware-Mist collaboration came nearly a week after Arista said it would acquire Mojo for its cloud-based software focused on network analytics and management. The acquisition, which Arista expects to close by the end of September, is the company's first. Arista did not release financial details.

Arista announced the Mojo acquisition roughly three months after introducing its first switches for the campus LAN. Available in the fall, the 7300X3 and 7050X3 spline switches are 10/25/40/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet gear equipped with telemetry and monitoring features designed to help network operators  diagnose performance problems.

Arista acquired Mojo for its machine learning and big data platform. The Cognitive WiFi system tracks more than 300 key performance indicators, Gartner said in its latest Magic Quadrant for the Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure. The research firm listed Mist and Mojo in the visionary quadrant of the report.

As a campus network supplier, Arista needed more than just technology for the wired LAN, Arista CEO Jayshree Ullal told financial analysts during a recent conference call. That's because a growing number of Arista customers are turning to Wi-Fi as it approaches multigigabit speeds.

"What we bought Mojo for was their Wi-Fi, their Cognitive WiFi, and the software capabilities associated with the access points [Mojo provides]," Ullal told analysts, according to a transcript on the financial site Seeking Alpha.

Arista plans to  merge Mojo technology with its CloudVision network management software that combines cloud computing, big data and machine learning. The product collects and archives network state and runs a suite of applications against the data to provide visibility, automate the deployment of network components, and analyze and report on incidents.

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