Use Cases for VMware SD-WAN Clustering

How Equinix and VMware increase network performance and resiliency while reducing costs for enterprises and service providers

Krishnan Margabandhu

The world is changing fast and enterprises need to move at the speed of light to adapt. Centralized IT infrastructure based on specialized hardware is not flexible enough to support this kind of business agility. And while most organizations have recognized that moving from fixed physical devices to “as a service” (aaS) models is the way to go, connectivity to those cloud services using legacy networks can be less performant, reliable and secure, and more costly.

Working with digital leaders across many industries, we found that network optimization is a key step in their digital transformation. That means ensuring that their connectivity is as flexible, fast, secure and resilient as the services they are connecting to. One way they are achieving it is by moving to software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructures that allow you to manage the physical network through software. Because the network services are decoupled from the underlying hardware device, benefits include faster time to provision services, improved agility, redundancy and scalability, and reduced cost. Digital leaders are also deploying SDN and NFV infrastructure in their wide area networks (WANs) to connect and manage services between data centers, remote branches, home offices and cloud instances.

Clustering SD-WANs and other virtual network devices is critical to creating reliable and scalable digital infrastructures through redundant devices in different geographic locations and balancing workloads between devices. In addition, IT organizations can leverage economies of scale by paying for multiple virtual device licenses as an integrated service versus individual device licenses.

VMware SD-WAN on Equinix Network Edge

The VMware SD-WAN and Equinix solution gives customers the ability to a provision VMware SD-WAN edges, in minutes, using Equinix Network Edge, enabling local connectivity with one-hop to ecosystem of cloud services. Instead of installing a virtual edge cluster in all different cloud providers, the customer can just deploy one virtual edge and with that all the services are a few clicks away.

Learn more about VMware SD-WAN and Equinix joint solution

How virtual network device linking and clustering improves resiliency

On Platform Equinix®, IT organizations can deploy multi-tiered virtual network architectures from leading NFV providers, such as VMware SD-WAN, that deliver greater scalability and resiliency via virtual network device linking and clustering.

With NFV device linking, two or more virtual network devices from different providers supported on Network Edge services can be connected within a single metro or across multiple metro locations using virtual cross connects. For example, via Network Edge, a firewall can be deployed, along with a multicloud edge router, in minutes, without additional hardware.

VNF Layer 2 Device Linking

NFV clustering is built upon Network Edge device linking and allows customers to build NFV clusters with multiple devices by the same vendor. The top use cases for Network Edge device clustering are adding redundancy and capacity to increase resiliency, performance, scalability and security using virtual firewalls and SD-WAN devices. For example, in a high availability scenario, an active instance of a VMware SD-WAN™ edge device can go down and the secondary, passive device in a different location will automatically pick up the virtual connections to clouds or other locations. Businesses can deploy multiple clusters and connect them through device linking for added resiliency.

SD-WAN clustering delivers high availability at a lower cost

VMware SD-WAN Edge and Network Edge provide direct, low-latency access to applications deployed on public or private clouds over internet broadband, private/MPLS or LTE networks. A virtual VMware SD-WAN Edge device can run inside Network Edge in 11 metros globally, allowing businesses to provision and configure VMware SD-WAN services on Platform Equinix in minutes without deploying additional hardware. This includes provisioning fast access to leading cloud platforms via Equinix Fabric™, which aggregates virtual connections to multiple cloud providers using a single physical port.

The following examples of VMware SD-WAN clustering with Network Edge illustrate the benefits to both enterprises and service providers:

Use case #1: Enterprise high availability SD-WAN cluster
Enterprises can deploy two, highly available VMware SD-WAN devices using Network Edge under a single user license, cutting the cost of redundant devices in half. And load balancing between SD-WAN devices improves performance and removes network bottlenecks. Faster dynamic cloud connectivity provisioning via Equinix Fabric speeds deployment and reduces cloud networking costs. In addition, the private interconnection to clouds via Equinix Fabric reduces data egress charges by a third versus going over the public internet.

IT organizations can also enhance their security by deploying deep packet inspection (DPI)-capable firewalls, which support a combination of intrusion detection system (IDS) and intrusion prevention system (IPS) features to securely connect remote users to clouds and to their existing infrastructure.

VMware SD-WAN clustering allows enterprises to:

  • Quickly deploy VMware SD-WAN at branch locations for high availability and/or scalability.
  • Lower VMware SD-WAN licensing costs via single cluster license.
  • Gain greater agility and scalability through aggregating multiple cloud virtual connections via a single device.
  • Reduce application response times via single-digital latency (2-3 milliseconds (ms) when connecting to multiple clouds at the edge versus backhauling user traffic to clouds in a centralized data center (>70 ms).

Use case #2 service provider SD-WAN cluster: Managed service providers (MSPs) and network service providers (NSPs) can leverage VMware SD-WAN clustering on Platform Equinix as reliable on-ramp to their other managed services offerings. For example, VMware SD-WAN clustering enables them to deploy a low-cost, high-availability, single-license model when providing their customers multiple SD-WAN connections to access to their services.

Many MSP and NSP customers share the same benefits as mentioned in the first use case, in addition to:

  • Offer a variety of managed services at a competitive price by aggregating multiple customers in a single VMWare SD-WAN network device.
  • Provide a choice of aggregated connections for multiple users; either over private connectivity or the public internet.
  • Quickly scale services to users across multiple channels globally, using a single edge device.
  • Deliver highly available clustering deployments to MSP and NSP services without having to buy additional licenses

Integrating VMware solutions on Platform Equinix

Equinix and VMware are working together to further integrate their platforms, including deepening the orchestration capabilities of VMware platforms with Equinix Fabric. For example, using Equinix Fabric and Network Services API integration, customers will be able to automatically deploy SD-WAN devices or interconnection to VMware Cloud across Platform Equinix, making it a seamless experience for network architects and application developers.


Learn more about VMware SD-WAN and Equinix joint solution.

View the 15-minute TechTalk: Building a Multitier Virtual Network at the Edge


You can also read:

The Frost & Sullivan White Paper “Equinix Network Edge: Laying the Path to Agile, Multicloud Networking.” 

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