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Cisco vs VMware SD-WAN

Cisco vs VMware

A Comparison of Cisco Viptela and VMware SD-WAN

No matter which market share report is considered, either Cisco or VMware holds the top SD–WAN vendor ranking. Both these giants have been battling for supremacy in the SD–WAN market ever since they  began to spend millions of dollars in this field. Cisco paid 600 million dollars to buy Viptela in 2017, and VMware paid 450 million dollars to buy leading SD–WAN startup VeloCloud in the same year. During the first fiscal quarter of 2020, Cisco claimed more than 20,000 SD-WAN customers for its Viptela and Meraki product solutions. VMware revealed its figure of 225,000 branch offices that deployed SD–WAN. While it is not a direct comparison as VMware specifies branch offices and Cisco customers,  it does begin a race towards claiming SD–WAN dominance in terms of holding maximum customer market share.

It is difficult to look past the hype of advertisement for any product to check what the organisation can actually accomplish in the field. More specifically, when two titans of enterprise-level networking technology are set for toe-to-toe competition. It is important to technically analyse Cisco’s Viptela and VMware’s VeloCloud to get an insight into the differences between their products and to gauge which is more suitable for your business.

Cisco’s Viptela SD–WAN

Cisco is considered to play the software and hardware card as it offers best in-class software and hardware solution for SD–WAN. While Cisco’s blogs specifically claim multiple deployment models for SD–WAN with the widest range of options for physical and virtual locations for both remote and branch offices, Cisco’s Viptela operates in a zero trust environment, which means all its hardware is authenticated and all the data packets are encrypted as per the standard. Such an SD–WAN solution can be managed and implemented completely within the cloud. Due to its open architecture, Viptela is ideal for use in combination with IPFIX interfaces, SNMP, Syslog, REST APIs and Netconf.

As per Gartner reports, Cisco Viptela is among the most powerful SD–WAN solutions on the market. Easier implementation of Viptela can be achieved with faster performance and less bandwidth. All information from WAN edge to cloud is shielded with multi-layer security encryption.

Cisco Vedge 1000

VMware’s VeloCloud SD–WAN

VMware’s SD–WAN solution implies VeloCloud Edge appliance. It is also one of the most successful players in the SD–WAN market. It streamlines implementation and shipping costs. It provides efficiency to enterprise and cloud application over both hybrid and Internet WAN. In case of VMware’s VeloCloud, any company using its SD–WAN, no matter whether they use MPLS or not, can leverage wired broadband Internet or wireless broadband Internet. VeloCloud’s quality score is a performance indicator that helps IT managers to give an insight into the proper functioning of the solution. To make room for central control of BYOD rules, VeloCloud uses a smart firewall for security.

As mentioned before, it provides a hybrid WAN solution with higher efficiency and reliability. It provides flexibility even for challenging applications, such as voice and video, to ensure optimal performance of the system. It also eliminates data centre backhaul penalisation to ensure an uninterrupted path to both the private enterprise cloud and the public enterprise cloud.

VMware Edge 610

Features of Cisco SD–WAN:
  • Supports 24 x 7 x 365
  • Application aware routing and multicast
  • vAnalytics platform
  • Dynamic routing (OSPF/BGP) and mesh topology
  • TCP optimisation
  • Two VPNs (service + transport)
  • On-ramp cloud for SaaS and IaaS

Along with these quick features, three important facets of Cisco’s software defined wide area networking (SD–WAN) are as follows:

  1. In order to ensure the protection of WAN traffic, end to end segmentation is carried out by taking the concept of traditional VLAN.
  2. Cisco SD–WAN is based on zero-touch provisioning that gives centralised control to the IT team to perform deployments and upgrades in the system. It helps in fast deployments to keep pace with changing dynamics.
  3. Cisco’s SD–WAN solution is a cloud-based solution that integrates the WAN infrastructure with the cloud. It improves application performance and simplifies due to its many benefits, Cisco has brought cloud power to the WAN architecture.
Features of VMware SD–WAN:
  1. Dynamic MultiPath Optimisation (DMPO)
  2. Service model cloud hosting
  3. Application performance monitoring and NFV infrastructure
  4. Integration with NSX data centre of VMware
  5. Optimised access to SaaS and the cloud
  6. Secured and assured application performance
  7. Cloud VPN and multi-region SD–WAN

Along with these quick features, it is also important to mention here that VMware’s VeloCloud is capable of cloud based NSX SD–WAN edge activation to deploy a branch in minutes. It is also capable of aggregating any type of WAN circuits to increase bandwidth in an economical way. In return, it provides a much faster application response. VMware’s VeloCloud also provides all users with direct access to the cloud. Standard encryption is applied to data packets to ensure secure connectivity over any type of transport. To reduce branch complexity and sophistication, it eliminates single functional appliances with multiple virtualised network functions, which are compact. A framework is being developed by VMware to extend the edge of the multi cloud and hybrid environments for IoT devices as well as applications. It will result in agile, secure and automated branch architecture.


The following table provides an insightful comparison of differences at a glance:
Cisco – Viptela
VMware – VeloCloud
Open solution available for flexible and easy deployment Fast deployment
On-premises or in-cloud functions Internet only, hybrid SD-WAN and on-premises
Zero touch deployment: Yes Zero touch deployment: Yes
Policy provisioning via vSmart controller Policy provisioning via VeloCloud Orchestrator
Data Encryption: Yes Data Encryption: Yes
Forward Error Control for Packet Loss: No Forward Error Control for Packet Loss: Yes
Measurement of Network Performance: (Passive) Proprietary Measurement of Network Performance: (Active) BFD
Supported Applications: 3,000 Supported Applications: 2,200
Unidirectional measurement and steering: No Unidirectional measurement and steering: Yes
Packet Duplication: No Packet Duplication: Yes


This brief analysis of Cisco Viptela vs VMware SD–WAN shows divergence in their functionalities and different key features depending upon their applications. Market competition is at an all-time high as all the vendors have been locked in a battle to mark their supremacy by meeting the demands of the maximum number of customers. But the choice of suitable vendor is solely subject to business requirements and the existing IT structure of an enterprise.


Cisco vs VMware Table


If you still require more information about all of the different SD-WAN solutions which are available on the market, have a read of our SD-WAN vendors comparison report.

If you would like to learn more about VMware SD-WAN then take a test drive of the VeloCloud Orchestrator.  Get hands-on access to the market leading SD-WAN platform and experience for yourself the visibility and simplicity of managing your WAN with SD-WAN – Click here to get access

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Copyright by Digital Carbon. All rights reserved.

Copyright by Digital Carbon. All rights reserved.