Data Centre ICT Networking Product of the Year
Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect™ is the industry's only business-driven software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) edge platform that enables enterprises to build a modern WAN that drives maximum value from ongoing cloud and digital transformation investments, delivering a multiplier effect. EdgeConnect is the industry’s only SD-WAN edge platform to unify SD-WAN, firewall, segmentation, routing, WAN optimisation and application visibility and control in a single system.
Delivered as physical, virtual or cloud-based appliances, EdgeConnect enables distributed organisations to securely and directly connect users in branch and remote sites to applications wherever they reside. EdgeConnect provides the flexibility to use any combination of transport– MPLS, broadband, 4G LTE–and bond multiple links into virtual overlays, giving every application the network resources needed to deliver the highest quality of experience to users.
Also, included with Unity EdgeConnect is the Unity Orchestrator™ centralised management console that provides unprecedented levels of visibility into legacy and cloud applications, along with the ability to centrally configure business intent overlays and implement consistent policies across the WAN in accordance with business intent to secure and control all WAN traffic.
As the digital-transformation and cloud initiatives of large enterprises mature and become increasingly sophisticated, SD-WAN offerings must be capable not only of scaling to accommodate large numbers of sites, but also of providing multi-tenant and segmentation capabilities that the world’s largest enterprise customers demand for control, manageability, and consistent security across multi-cloud environments. Responding to the evolving requirements of its largest enterprise customers, Silver Peak added new enhancements to the Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform in December 2019.
These new capabilities include multi-fabric orchestration and management, one-click automation with leading cloud and security services, and advanced segmentation and cloud-scale connectivity. These advancements enable the world’s largest cloud-first enterprises to scale, automate and simplify the configuration, deployment and management of a modern WAN edge to 10,000 sites and beyond.
Cloud-Scale multi-tenant SD-WAN orchestration
The new Unity Orchestrator Global Enterprise management software is designed expressly for large-scale global enterprises with multiple divisions, business units or subsidiaries that each require a dedicated SD-WAN fabric. Each fabric can be individually orchestrated and managed, providing enterprises with centralised network-wide visibility and control, including aggregated observability of the entire network.
As cloud-first enterprises continue to scale EdgeConnect deployments, they are also seeking to simplify network management through advanced automation. This is particularly true as it relates to configuring, deploying and enforcing consistent security policies across all network locations. Together with ecosystem security partners Zscaler and Check Point Software, network administrators can now automate the configuration of IPsec tunnels from branch locations to the nearest cloud-delivered security Point of Presence (POP) with a single drag and drop click within the Silver Peak Unity Orchestrator management interface.
This level of advanced one-click automation also extends to public cloud workloads hosted in Microsoft Azure IaaS instances, enabling network managers to automatically identify, classify and onboard Azure-destined traffic to the nearest Microsoft Virtual WAN on-ramp in proximity to each branch location, assuring the highest quality of experience for application users. This combination of advanced one-click automation ensures consistent security and application policy enforcement across all WAN locations, reducing configuration time from hours to minutes and making IT more responsive to the business.
Advanced segmentation for the cloud-first enterprise
Silver Peak has reimagined virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) for the modern cloud-first enterprise, unifying advanced segmentation capabilities into the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform. New VRF capabilities tie seamlessly with existing zone-based stateful firewall and network address translation (NAT) capabilities, enabling network managers to apply advanced segmentation to routes and application traffic with just a few mouse clicks within the Orchestrator management interface.
Network managers can now configure and manage separate addressing, routing and security policies consistently across end-to-end segments and micro-segments for traffic traversing large-scale multinational enterprises and federations of independent companies. Advanced segmentation eliminates the arduous task of manually stitching together VRF, firewall and NAT policies in a consistent manner, dramatically simplifying the management of diverse scenarios and providing unprecedented flexibility when contending with overlapping IP address spaces.
Cloud-scale 25G connectivity
The EdgeConnect extra large (EC-XL) regional hub and data centre 1U appliance is now available with up to six dual 10G/25G interfaces, aligning with an industry transition from 10G to 25G and enabling cloud-first enterprises to scale in line with increasing premises bandwidth requirements.
Expanded cloud integrations
In November 2019, Silver Peak expanded its product integration with Microsoft cloud services. Today’s expanded integration enables enterprise IT organisations to centrally define workflows within Unity Orchestrator to automate direct branch connectivity to Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure across deployments of the business-driven Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform. These advancements allow cloud-first enterprises to deliver the highest quality of application experience to branch users, dramatically simplify network operations for IT and ultimately achieve a multiplier effect on Microsoft cloud investments.
Advanced Automation for Microsoft Office 365
As cloud-first enterprises embrace leading productivity tools like Office 365, IT organisations are tasked with delivering the highest levels of performance to achieve the full productivity benefit. To help enterprises deliver the best Office 365 experience, Microsoft has defined a set of connectivity best practices for connecting branch office users over the internet to the closest Office 365 service front door. The Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform is now fully integrated with Office 365 IP address and URL web services, providing default support for Microsoft connectivity best practices.
Automating Branch Connectivity to Azure Virtual WAN
For enterprises migrating applications from the corporate data centre to the cloud, Microsoft Azure offers a compelling value proposition. The Azure cloud infrastructure spans Microsoft’s worldwide footprint of global data centers, hubs and entry points interconnected over Microsoft’s private high-performance global network.
The Azure Virtual WAN service provides an API-driven software-defined paradigm that enables Unity Orchestrator to perform per-branch geolocation of the closest Azure hub, and then automatically establish, monitor and maintain IPsec tunnels from each branch location into Azure. This ensures that application traffic traverses the shortest distance possible on the public internet before merging onto the Azure backbone. Using the Silver Peak cloud API, network administrators can now establish and automate integration workflows within Unity Orchestrator, enabling joint customers to build optimised network access to workloads and resources hosted in Azure VNETs, fully leveraging the performance advantages of the Microsoft global backbone network.
Vitec boots application performance and improves global WAN efficiency
For many communications professionals, whether in television, film, still photography, or the fast-growing realm of independent content creation, there’s one go-to source for specialised equipment – Vitec.The company has three divisions – Production Solutions, Creative Solutions, and Imaging Solutions – with global manufacturing facilities and business offices that provide customers with everything from camera accessories and mobile power to robotic film systems and video transmission solutions.
Following years of growth, fuelled by acquisitions, Vitec’s MPLS-based wide-area network (WAN) had become complex. In addition, while failover to backup circuits was automated, the process was complex and end users could still have a dropped connection to sensitive applications such as voice and Citrix.
Ben Skinner, Vitec’s head of corporate networks and infrastructure, took the lead in the Production Solutions division to simplify the WAN edge, and in the process, improve network uptime and efficiency. The key was a business-driven, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) built on the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform.
Simplifying the WAN edge with Silver Peak
With a background in networking, Skinner knew about SD-WAN and extensively researched potential vendors. Silver Peak was chosen for the simplicity of the EdgeConnect platform and the Vitec team agreed it was better in terms of SD-WAN management, ease of deployment, and supporting its cloud strategy. Since Vitec was also using Check Point’s internet gateways, this was another driver at the beginning of choosing a partner, as it required one that offered connectivity to these services.
In less than six weeks, Vitec rolled out the EdgeConnect platform to all 19 global sites in the Production Solutions division – from Costa Rica, across New York and London, to Singapore, Japan and China. At each location, the EdgeConnect platform is now terminated with at least two WAN transport links, which may be a combination of dedicated internet access (DIA), commercial broadband, or 4G/5G LTE. Skinner also deployed a virtualised EdgeConnect appliance in Microsoft Azure. MPLS has since been decommissioned.
With the Production Solutions SD-WAN in place, Skinner is now working with the Imaging Solutions division to assist them in deploying the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform across global locations – approximately 20 sites, from its Italy-based headquarters, through the rest of Europe, and across Asia and Australia.
Seamless end user experience from data centre to cloud
Vitec’s Production Solutions division runs its critical business applications – product lifecycle management (PLM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), Skype for Business, and others – in a centralised data centre in the UK, using Citrix for application delivery. Skinner reports that with capabilities such as path conditioning, quality of service (QoS), and dynamic path control delivered by the EdgeConnect platform, application performance has improved on average about 20 percent.
By taking advantage of the optional Unity Boost™ WAN optimisation software performance pack, Skinner also accelerated other services such as backup and file sharing. Using Boost with its Veeam backups, Vitec has seen a 70 percent latency improvement across the line. SharePoint and its patching software have also seen latency improvements of 60 to 70 percent.
With automated, sub-millisecond failover, network uptime and quality of service have improved significantly. Moreover, by using business intent overlays, Skinner has been able to prioritise applications and ensure each application receives the network resources required to deliver the highest quality of experience to end users. For example, voice is designated real time to eliminate latency and jitter and ensure no dropped calls.
While the majority of Vitec’s applications currently run on premises, the company is transitioning into the cloud. Today, workloads such as web servers, domain controllers, Office 365 authentication servers, and federation services to other SaaS applications are running in Microsoft Azure. The ability to extend SD-WAN connectivity into the cloud is essential for Vitec. From the end user’s perspective, Vitec wants them to have a seamless experience connecting to applications whether they are on premises or in the cloud. With Silver Peak that’s been a success.
Saves substantial amounts of time and money
One of Skinner’s main objectives with SD-WAN was to consolidate and simplify the WAN edge, and EdgeConnect has made that possible. For example, the EdgeConnect platform provides unified routing interoperability and a zone-based firewall, enabling Skinner to retire conventional edge routers and firewalls. Ultimately, he expects to reduce the WAN edge infrastructure to just three devices – the EdgeConnect platform, a network switch, and wireless access point – reducing the footprint and producing attractive financial savings.
With Silver Peak, the company is expecting savings of a quarter-million pounds per year. In addition to saving money, the Silver Peak SD-WAN also helps Skinner and his team save time. The Unity Orchestrator management interface plays a key role in simplifying and centralising SD-WAN management to improve business agility. Orchestrator also streamlines deployment of the SD-WAN as Vitec opens new locations.
Results from the project include:
• Simplified the WAN edge, consolidating on the unified EdgeConnect platform
• Projected savings of approximately £250,000 per year
• Increased application performance by 20 percent on average
• Improved latency for file shares and backups by up to 70 percent with Boost
• Enhanced quality of experience for employees from data centre to cloud
• Retired traditional routers and firewalls, enabling local SaaS breakout
• Enabled higher network uptime with automated, sub-millisecond link failover
• Enhanced network agility to support ongoing business expansion
SD-WAN innovation for modern, cloud-first enterprises
As global enterprises shift IT spending toward modern cloud applications and services, many are coming to the realisation that a no-compromise WAN transformation strategy is required to achieve a multiplier effect on these investments. The Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform, with today’s expanded capabilities, is uniquely engineered to address the changing requirements of cloud-first enterprises, enabling them to scale, automate and extend SD-WAN deployments across multiple fabrics and cloud instances, while maintaining centralised control and complete observability of the WAN.