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Versa Provides An End-To-End Solution That Simplifies And Secures The WAN/Branch Office Network

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Below is our recent interview with Michael Wood, CMO at Versa Networks:

Q: This is the first time we have spoken. Can you provide a brief overview of Versa Networks?

A: Yes, I’d be happy to. Versa Networks was founded in 2012 with the vision to transform the business of networking. Our mission is to deliver the end-to-end software-defined enterprise. Versa started from day 1 with an architecture built from the ground up as a complete integration of best-of-breed capabilities. That means comprehensive security, scalable advanced routing, full-featured SD-WAN, genuine multi-tenancy and sophisticated analytics. And all of that within a single enterprise-class carrier-grade operating system (VOS™). This approach is based on the same scalable principles as those used to build the Internet.

Our unique architecture has propelled us to where we are today. Last year we announced hundreds of thousands of software licenses transacted globally through service providers, channel partners, and enterprise customers. Versa has gained incredible momentum with thousands of customers globally and 100-plus service provider partners, including 6 of the 10 largest global carriers. Today, we’re one of the top three SD-WAN vendors in the world and are the number one Secure SD-WAN vendor based on the latest market share study by Dell’Oro Group, an analyst firm.

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Q: There are many companies offering some sort of SD-WAN. How is Versa different?

A: This all goes back to the architecture and the decisions the founders made to build from this architecture when launching the company. Because of this, one of Versa’s key advantages is its unique ability to deliver high application performance and comprehensive security. We can do this with dramatically lower costs through our single Versa operating system (VOS) with cohesive security, routing, SD-WAN, and orchestration. What’s more, we’re leading the industry with our complete WAN edge solution, based on Gartner’s definition of cloud-delivered secure access service edge.

Q: Aren’t other companies already doing this? What makes Versa unique?

A: Other solutions in the market do not deliver the breadth of embedded, native networking and security capabilities for the WAN edge. We combine full-featured SD-WAN, comprehensive integrated security, scalable advanced routing, genuine multi-tenancy, WAN optimization, orchestration, and sophisticated analytics to meet WAN edge requirements for small business to the largest of enterprises and service providers. Our Secure SD-WAN can be deployed on-premises, hosted through service providers, cloud-delivered, and through the Versa Titan cloud service for Lean IT.

Our integrated architecture is highly effective because Versa Secure SD-WAN processes each packet only once and each function – security, SD-WAN, routing, etc. – acts on that packet simultaneously. So, this dramatically increases efficiency, closes security gaps, improves performance, reduces latency, and eliminates the need for multiple software instances, or multiple hardware appliances. This also enables a single-pane-of-glass for configuration, management and monitoring of security, SD-WAN, routing, analytics, WAN optimization, and multi-tenancy.

Other SD-WAN solutions require a separate security instantiation, where the security functions are deployed on a second software stack, a VNF, or worse, with separate security appliances. This approach means they’ll need a separate management interface for configuration, monitoring and changes.

Many enterprises are still unable to part with their legacy routers, since they still rely on them for advanced routing capabilities. In doing so, they essentially become encumbered with three devices – SD-WAN, security and router – with less functionality than Versa delivers. Versa delivers a full, scalable, and advanced routing stack to meet those requirements within the same VOS software operating system.

Q: What are some of the key benefits enterprises can expect with your solution?

A: In addition to the positives I’ve already mentioned, Versa Secure SD-WAN enables a Zero Trust architecture. Enterprises can have visibility into traffic traversing the network between users, applications and devices, regardless of their location.

Versa also enables massively scalable IoT implementations across the entire enterprise. This includes support for IoT devices, gateways, analytics, storage, and compute. IoT implementations require enormous scale, performance and prioritization to perform seamlessly and in real-time. Our Secure SD-WAN has the ability to automatically segment specific types of IoT devices as they appear on the network; then apply the most appropriate policies to those devices based on their profile, while levering genuine multi-tenancy.

In addition, Versa is laying the foundation and services to enable the secure access service edge, or SASE, for enterprises and service providers. SASE combines numerous security services, such as secure web gateway, cloud access security broker and next-generation firewall as a service and zero trust network access. Many enterprises have a vision to implement SASE in its entirety or as a hybrid model. Versa is already delivering portions of this by leveraging our strength and comprehensive capabilities that can be deployed in the cloud and on-premises, or utilized in a hybrid fashion.

Q: And is this also a service provider solution? How do service providers leverage Versa?

A: Yes, it is very much a service provider solution. Our service provider partners leverage Versa to equip SMB, mid-market and large or multinational organizations. We help them expand their managed services portfolio with a simplified and unified architecture. Versa transforms the experience of our partners’ customers with a self-provision, self-care capability, with knowledge across multiple dimensions needed to run their businesses. Our service provider solutions are designed to integrate managed services, while maintaining operational efficiency and reducing cost. These managed services include managed SD-WAN, managed software-defined branch, managed software-defined security, and managed software-defined router services.

MSPs need full multi-tenancy. While almost every SD-WAN vendor claims to support multi-tenancy, Versa has complete SD-WAN multi-tenancy that allows total separation between every tenant, and enables each to have their own complete Secure SD-WAN implementation.

Lastly, the Versa Titan cloud service is a Lean IT cloud implementation delivered as an easily configured, managed and deployed service. The Versa Titan cloud service enables businesses implementing Lean IT to implement Secure SD-WAN as a cloud service on their own or through service providers for a simplified, full-service Secure SD-WAN solution.

Q: How has the state of WAN to the edge changed since SD-WAN launched a few years ago?

A: WAN connectivity and edge functionality have been evolving quickly. The evolution really began within the data center and cloud, driven by the advantages that virtualization technology and software defined networking brought.

The network edge is undergoing a transformative change, and SD-WAN is at the center of this change. Enterprises were initially drawn to SD-WAN because of the cost savings it enabled by leveraging both MPLS and Broadband Internet. Some pure-play SD-WAN vendors added capabilities that increased application reliability; for instance, link congestion avoidance through packet steering, packet replication and forward error correction.

These solutions also gave companies the ability to extend their WAN edge perimeter beyond the data center, to cloud and SaaS. And they could still manage everything centrally. As companies began moving more sites to SD-WAN, they realized how important the reliability and application performance were. However, they also realized they still required separate security functionality that ran in parallel with their SD-WAN implementation. They might cobble together a security solution by implementing a second software stack, a VNF, or separate security appliances, but that brings its own challenges. This approach would require separate management interfaces for configuration, monitoring and changes, in addition to introducing performance issues and security gaps.

We offer a different approach for companies that want a build-their-own Secure SD-WAN solution, and a more simplified solution by leveraging an MSP with managed services built around Versa Secure SD-WAN.

We have a complete and full-featured WAN edge solution, with all functionality provided through the single Versa Operating System, or VOS. This eliminates the complexity of managing and correlating the data from every individual function, like firewall, WAN optimizer, router, and SD-WAN. This enables the software-defined enterprise to extend end-to-end, across branches, data centers, clouds, campuses, 5G, IoT, edge compute, mobile, wired and wireless.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges organizations face in securing their infrastructure to the edge and to branch offices?

A: Well, actually there are many challenges, regardless of the marketing messages SD-WAN vendors spin. Modern enterprise WANs are supported by an orchestration service layer that automates network behaviors to support business intent and objectives.

However, to really make this work, some SD-WAN solutions require the customer to replace their legacy routers with SD-WAN branch routers. This doesn’t exactly simplify complexity. That requires changing IP address schemes and modifying device identities for them to work with the SD-WAN.

It’s unrealistic to think SD-WAN alone simplifies everything. SD-WAN relies upon many technologies and diverse business interactions, with multiple carriers and diverse circuits, geographically distributed transport provisioning, and multiple service provider support organizations. That’s why enterprises are increasingly moving to MSPs for their SD-WAN deployments and ongoing management.

Q: And, I have to ask, what can we expect to see from Versa later in 2020?

A: Versa’s vision is to deliver comprehensive WAN edge solutions that fully enable the software-defined enterprise on-premises and in the cloud. This extends across branches, data centers, multi-clouds, campuses, mobile and 5G. As such, in 2020 you’ll see us continue to build out capabilities for secure access service edge, for both enterprises and MSPs.

You’ll see our Secure SD-WAN continue to evolve capabilities for a more robust Zero Trust architecture – one that will give enterprises even greater visibility into traffic traversing the network between users, applications and devices, regardless of their location. We will also be enhancing our predictive networking capabilities, and more robust machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities.

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Q: Thank you for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?

A: Well, it’s clear to me, based on everyone I talk with, that disparate network and security architectures, and those that require access and connectivity to run through the enterprise data center, are constraining enterprises. Legacy network architectures are limiting their ability to compete and run counter to the requirements of today’s software-defined enterprise, where more users, data, applications, devices and services are located outside of headquarters or the data center.

Companies of all sizes, and within virtually every industry, need less complexity. They need applications to run seamlessly, and with reliable and consistent performance. The WAN can no longer be a business inhibitor. There will be increased demand for the consolidation of networking and security capabilities delivered through the cloud, with deep application-awareness that understands data context.

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