With applications and workloads migrating to multicloud architectures and continuously expanding traffic, enterprise IT organizations face challenges to deliver scalable, secure and efficient resource access. The COVID-19 pandemic amplified this challenge by accelerating adoption of remote work from home environments. As a result, the demand for capabilities such as SD-WAN-based digital transport has been growing by the day.
For some time now, Equinix and Cisco have been collaborating to deliver solutions that meet joint customer requirements for “best-in-class” SD-WAN support by enabling direct and secure hybrid multicloud access through SD-WAN private interconnection.
Now that Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect deployment automation is integrated with Equinix Fabric™ and Network Edge services on Platform Equinix®, it’s worth taking a moment to review the typical use cases enhanced by this capability.
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Solution enables rapid, dynamic, automated interconnection deployment
First, let’s start with a definition. This blog focuses on something called Software-defined Cloud Interconnect (SDCI). SDCI is an acronym of a conceptual idea, just like other popular terms like Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Services Edge (SASE). You can think of SDCI as a kind of management “hub” capable of automating the connectivity to an enterprise to cloud, network and internet service providers that can deliver superior network control to serve enterprise hybrid multicloud applications.
Gartner describes SDCI in its Gartner Report entitled “How to Optimize Network Connectivity Into Public Cloud Providers” as follows: “Like cloud hubs, SDCI-based services connect to many IaaS, SaaS, ISPs and carriers, but private connectivity is typically virtualized, making it more flexible to support small to large port sizes to providers, in addition to both short-term and long-term connections to CSPs. In addition, SDCI services often provide access, WAN connectivity and ancillary services to simplify the multiplicity of security, billing and performance requirements encountered with the prior connectivity alternatives.”[i]
Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect is a real-world example of an SDCI implementation. It provides swift, secure and automated connectivity to cloud service providers as well as backbone for end-to-end connectivity across sites—providing seamless support of hybrid multicloud and private hybrid networks alike.
Cisco SD-WAN Cloud interconnect uses software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to interconnect sites, such as branches, to strategically placed points of presence (POPs) for site-to-site connectivity as well as site-to-cloud connectivity. This integration and automation with Equinix Fabric and Network Edge enables mutual customers to deploy and manage all their SD-WAN gateways and connectivity across the globe from a single portal.[ii]
Cisco’s integration with Equinix Fabric and Network Edge now provides end-to-end, SD-WAN, single pane-of-glass deployment, configuration and management via Cisco vManage. Through Cisco vManage, our Cisco-implementing customers can deploy virtual network function (VNF) devices, such as Cisco Cloud Services Routers (CSR 1000V), on Network Edge. Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect configures these VNF devices, then dynamically sets up Equinix Fabric interconnections—providing a seamless experience for the user. Key benefits of Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect with Equinix include:
- Inherent redundancy—Leverage site access redundancy between Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers; enable single region or multi-region cloud redundancy (dual link and dual router); implement active/active network redundancy; adopt hybrid infrastructure (physical and cloud) redundancy.
- Fast and on-demand connectivity—Create end-to-end connections dynamically and instantaneously, rather than manually via individual connections.
- Normalized experience—Provide portal-driven automated workflows to connect to any cloud and any carrier.
- Centralized visibility—Employ Cisco SD-WAN multicloud monitoring for end-to-end visibility.
- Highly available backbone—Ensure reliable global resource access via Equinix Fabric private backbone with a 99.999% uptime SLA.
- End-to-end automation—Apply complete automation flows to connect branches and users to one another and cloud resources.
- Integrated support—Benefit from seamless Cisco and Equinix support as you deploy and expand your SD-WAN backbone.
Equinix-based Cisco solution supports key transport use cases
A recent Cisco white paper detailed how Cisco SD-WAN can be implemented via Equinix Network Edge and connected using Equinix Fabric.[iii] In that paper, Cisco indicates that enterprises face one or more of the following problems:
- Low-quality connectivity over the public internet across different geographical regions (significant packet loss, high latency)
- Lack of visibility into cloud service provider backbones
- Inability to perform proper application-aware routing across multiple clouds and providers
The solution? The paper recommends deploying Cisco SD-WAN virtually via Equinix Network Edge and packaged with Equinix Fabric to provide global metro-to-metro connectivity and a cloud edge to connect to multiple public clouds. “By using Cisco SD-WAN with Equinix, you get the best of SD-WAN and global connectivity,” Cisco states in the whitepaper.
The current collaboration supports two key use case scenarios: site-to-site and site-to-cloud deployments. To illustrate the overall architectural arrangement of a Cisco-based environment supported by Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect, consider the site-to-site scenario depicted in the following diagram.
Cisco SD-WAN over Equinix site-to-site use case
Traffic behavior for the site-to-site network depicted above differs from a scenario in which SD-WAN is deployed without the intervening Equinix infrastructure in several important ways. Instead of using an SD-WAN tunnel over the public internet between two regions, the packets will be sent from the branch to the closest Equinix data center where a virtual Cisco SD-WAN router is running. Then the virtual Cisco SD-WAN router will forward the packets using another SD-WAN tunnel over the global Equinix Fabric backbone. The Cisco SD-WAN virtual router on the receiving side will forward the packets to the final destination.
The resulting advantages of integrating Cisco SD-WAN into the Equinix environment include lower latency performance, consistently robust Cisco router-based security and significantly improved set-up agility associated with a vastly simplified path configuration.
The market opportunities created by this cooperative development with Cisco are clear. With so many Cisco-based deployments worldwide and our digital infrastructure of globally interconnected data centers, this collaboration certainly offers cost-savings and performance benefits to our customers, but also creates growth opportunities for our partners and service providers.”- Dave Rosenberg, Senior Director, Global Account Management at Equinix
Cisco, Equinix collaboration value extends beyond technology integration
Equinix and Cisco are committed to delivering a variety of paths for cooperative solutions development. For example, two new Cisco Security VNF capabilities on Network Edge were added last month—Cisco Firepower Threat Defense Virtual (FTDv) and Cisco Adaptive Security Virtual Appliance (ASAv).
Implementing Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnection with Equinix is a multi-phase collaboration between Cisco and Equinix. In this first phase, Equinix customers using Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect with Equinix will continue to receive billing from Equinix for all Equinix services. This phase provides a solid foundation that will realize the true promise of SD-WAN in managing a dynamic hybrid multicloud networking infrastructure to enable expanded interactions with cloud services and access to the latest last-mile technologies. Look for the following in future phases:
- more cloud connectivity
- more network and security function integrations
- flexible consumption and support models
- expanded alarming and notification support
The joint value to our customers does not stop with the integration and automation work we’ve co-engineered; our mutual customers and partners can also benefit from how closely Cisco and Equinix are partnered from a sales and support perspective. The goal is to provide a world-class experience by integrating the leading SD-WAN solution with the leading colocation provider’s flexible software-defined network.”- Ivan Duggan, Managing Director, Global Sales, SD-WAN & Routing, Cisco
We invite you to explore how our collective vision for fast and agile connectivity with SD-WAN can empower your business today. Speak with your Cisco, Equinix or partner account manager to find out how Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect with Equinix can power your connectivity needs.
Learn more about Equinix and Cisco solutions.
You may also want to read: Cisco SD-WAN Cloud Interconnect with Equinix Network Edge Delivers SDCI to Secure Multicloud Networking.
Watch our video about how Equinix and Cisco make it easy to lay the network foundation for digital transformation:
[i] Gartner, “How to Optimize Network Connectivity Into Public Cloud Providers,” authored by Lisa Pierce, Danellie Young, Jonathan Forest, 19 February 2021, ID G00741407.
[ii] Equinix, Interconnections, “Equinix and Cisco Optimize Software-Defined Cloud Interconnection,” March 31, 2021.
[iii] Cisco Systems, Inc., “ SD-WAN Solution – Site-to-Any-Cloud and Site-to-Site Use Cases with Cisco SD-WAN and Equinix White Paper,” April 15, 2021.