CenturyLink Adds Cisco's Viptela


By: R. Scott Raynovich

In a sign of the escalating battle for both software-defined wide-ware networking (SD-WAN) customers and technology, CenturyLink (CTL) today announced that it is expanding its portfolio of SD-WAN technology to include Cisco's Viptela technology, which CenturyLink will now provide as an alternative to its original SD-WAN technology provider, startup Versa Networks.

It's big news, though not unexpected. The announcement will ramp up the rivalry between incumbent Cisco and startup Versa for the red-hot SD-WAN market. Versa was the first CenturyLink's SD-WAN platform when it launched the services in 2016. Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja is an Ex-Cisco executive. Cisco paid $610 million for Viptela in 2017 to beef up its SD-WAN offerings.

As part of the deal, CenturyLink will Cisco’s Viptela vEdge series routers and enterprise network computer system (ENCS) 5000 series virtualized network platform, with multiple feature packages available. Customers will also have access to a dedicated CenturyLink SD-WAN portal.

It was unrealistic to expect that CenturyLink would only provide one SD-WAN offering, as CenturyLink technology officials have been consistent in saying they like second sources. In addition, CenturyLink is a big customer of Cisco's, conferred the status of Cisco Gold Partner and a Cloud and Managed Services Master Partner.

Overall, it's good news for the SD-WAN market, as it shows that CenturyLink would like to build on its recent success. Last month, CenturyLink announced an expansion of the program that included extending to more than 30 countries. Adam Saenger, VP Networking Solutions for CenturyLink, described the move to SD-WAN as a "major shift" in IT trends.

“This offer provides more choices for companies to achieve improved network optimization and deliver better performance for their customers,” said Saenger in a press release, on the deal with Cisco. “We reduce the risk and complexity of WAN modernization with a complete range of global hybrid connectivity and SD-WAN solutions that offer better service quality, faster deployment and improved security, scale and cost efficiency.”

CenturyLink launched its SD-WAN solution using the Versa Networks platform in 2016.

Futuriom expects the market for SD-WAN tools and network-as-a-service (NaaS) revenue (non-legacy service provider) to reach $1.5 billion by 2019 and $2.5 billion by 2021. Our data was gathered from both SD-WAN software and services players and industry sources. You can read about our 2018 report here.