Silver Peak unveils Unity Fabric uniting cloud, internet, and WAN

Unlike traditional WAN optimization solutions, Unity’s ability to keep Cloud SaaS and IaaS traffic on the same fabric lets it intelligently route traffic to the public cloud over a secure, optimal path.


Damon Ennis, Silver Peak’s SVP of Products

Santa Clara-based Silver Peak has announced Unity, its new intelligent WAN fabric designed to unify the enterprise network with the public cloud. Its distinctive feature is that unlike traditional WAN optimization solutions, Unity’s ability to keep Cloud SaaS and IaaS traffic on the same fabric lets it intelligently route traffic over a secure, optimal path, giving IT the ability, for the first time, to monitor and control connectivity to the cloud.

“Silver Peak was founded in 2004 for WAN optimization, and the company went through several transformations,” said Damon Ennis, Silver Peak’s SVP of Products. “We were initially focused on data centre to data centre rather than data centre to branch. Our next major phase was a focus on virtualization, and we had an architecture uniquely suited for virtual environments. We were first to market with a software-based WAN optimization solution that ran in any environment. That brought us into the branch, but it was still traditional WAN optimization. This is the third phase, and it goes beyond that.”

This new stage has been necessitated in changes in how the network is being used.

“For years the network itself was fairly static, and something the enterprise network manager could monitor and control,” Ennis said. “Now the WAN is changing. Many applications are now SaaS, with, for example, Outlook moving from Exchange servers to Office 365. Other enterprise workloads have been moved into infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, Managers may not even know some of these are on the network, and they are losing control.”

Silver Peak’s Unity Fabric is based on Unity instances, physical or virtual appliances that plug into the network. They connect the existing data centre to the SaaS solution and rise above the network in a transport-agnostic fashion that lets network administrators regain control and optimize connectivity to the cloud. The instances have already been available. So has the second element of the solution, Silver Peak’s Global Management System (GMS), which gives IT managers complete visibility and control over the deployment and use of cloud services.

It is the third element of the solution, the Silver Peak Unity Cloud Intelligence, which is the new element here, and which is the key element in providing the new capabilities.

“The Unity Cloud intelligence, the new hosted Silver Peak service, is what’s really new here,” Ennis said.

So how does it all work?

“Our solution doesn’t care how many hops you are from a particular IP address, only that you want to get as close as possible to a SaaS offering,” Ennis said. “Our protocols, instead of exchanging hops, exchange reachability metrics for each solution. The Cloud Intelligence service is, in effect, the address book for all those SaaS solutions. It acts as an Internet weather map, finding the best path, making optimal use of Internet links that are prone to error, correcting packets, and increasing visibility.”

All this required that the Cloud Intelligence service be intimately familiar with the individual SaaS applications. Ennis said that at launch, it knows 30 SaaS applications that Silver Peak considers to be the most essential, and it will add others as required.

“With this, managers regain visibility and control, enterprise users get consistent performance, and enterprises can migrate some of their WAN connectivity to the Internet, which will drive down their costs, and increase their availability,” Ennis said.

Ennis said the sweet spot for this type of solution is fairly large.

“Any time you have users removed from the data, this could apply,” he said. “It could work for organizations with as few as four locations if they are remote from their SaaS solution, as well as for ones with large number of locations. You don’t need it if you are a small enterprise on the west coast, and Office 365 is your main SaaS application.”

The feedback from Silver Peak channel partners for this has been strong, even though for some of them, it is a bit of a leap because unlike traditional WAN optimization, it’s outside their networking core competency.

“They know there is fear in their customers, who have owned their own Exchange server, and now have to trust in the cloud,” he said. “It’s a different message to them than WAN optimization, but there are two key points here. First, it’s a much higher C level solution. Unifying whole networks is a more compelling C level message. Second, it gives a way to provide a higher value service, in an application pain point that’s really coming to the forefront.”

Existing Silver Peak customers can build a Unity fabric by upgrading to version 7 of Silver Peak software and subscribing to Silver Peak’s new Cloud Intelligence service. New customers purchase Silver Peak software and subscribe to Unity Cloud Intelligence. That subscription is $5,000 per enterprise, per year for any and all SaaS applications. Silver Peak software instances are available for $551 per instance per year. The Silver Peak Global Management System starts at about $2700 per year.