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Cisco tightens SD-WAN ties with Microsoft

Cisco tightens SD-WAN ties with Microsoft

Cisco's latest SD-WAN software upgrade picks the best link between remote users and Microsoft SaaS applications and better supports voice and video networks.

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Cisco has released a new version of its SD-WAN software that adds the ability to reinforce links between remote users and Microsoft Office 365 applications and better support voice and video networks.

The new features are part of the latest release of Cisco’s core SD-WAN software that can control the connectivity, management, and services between data centres and remote branches or cloud instances. SD-WAN deployments typically include routers and switches or virtualised customer-premises equipment (vCPE) all running some version of software that handles policy, security, networking functions, and other management tools.

Cisco has in recent years made tying its SD-WAN software closer to key cloud players such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Microsoft a priority.

This release further integrates support for Microsoft’s Informed Network Routing technology that lets customers share Microsoft 365 app feedback telemetry with networking vendors and to receive network link telemetry from them, according to Jeevan Sharma, Manager, Product Management, Enterprise Cloud & SD-WAN group at Cisco in a blog about the enhancements.

Sharma wrote that enterprises may have multiple options to route traffic from branch sites to Microsoft SaaS applications such as Office 365, Teams, and SharePoint.

“They may backhaul the SaaS traffic through a corporate data centre to run it through a security stack or they may send the traffic to a regional data centre first or allow users at the remote branch to directly access SaaS apps over internet,” Sharma stated.

“This introduces [a] path selection problem, as it is difficult for network admin[s] to assess which path is best-performing at any given point in time and should be used to access the SaaS applications for best user experience. Also, if the path performance degrades, then how can they switch to an alternate better performing path so that the application experience for the user is not degraded.”

“Using Informed Network Routing, customers can let  Microsoft to share application telemetry with Cisco, and Cisco to share network link telemetry with Microsoft. This gives Cisco additional visibility and app telemetry data to make informed decisions for best path selection,” Sharma stated.

The vendor has also added support for its Cisco Unified Border Element (CUBE) technology across its routing—and consequently the SD-WAN package — to bridge voice and video connectivity between separate VoIP networks. Specifically CUBE provides a session border controller (SBC) for voice routing, security, interworking, and session-management functions.

By integrating this feature into Cisco SD-WAN customers can use edge platforms to route collaboration traffic between SD-WAN-enabled nodes either within an enterprise (for on-premises deployments) or private/public cloud-based environments, wrote Raakhee Mistry, senior director of marketing, for Cisco’s Enterprise Networking & Cloud group in a blog outlining the new features.

The SBC can be enabled on existing SD-WAN platforms, eliminating the need for a separate appliance, Mistry wrote.

The release also supports the integration Webex collaboration software Cisco revealed in January. The software is being added to the applications supported by Cloud OnRamp — a key part of the Cisco SD-WAN offering.

Cloud OnRamp segregates application traffic like Webex from generic internet traffic and routes it from a branch router via the best path to insure a secure, high-quality connection. The idea is to support reliability, security, and visibility in audio-video calls for distributed teams regardless of where users are working, Cisco stated.


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