Cisco SD-WAN software gains broader application access, enhanced analytics

Cisco has tweaked its flagship SD-WAN software package to increase customer application flexibility and improve visibility into the performance of distributed resources.

The company announced Cisco SD-WAN release 17.8, which adds support for new business and customized cloud applications, analytics and security features.

Specifically, the company upgraded the SD-WAN Cloud OnRamp for SaaS service, which links branch offices or individual remote users to cloud applications such as Cisco’s Webex, Microsoft 365, AWS, Google, Oracle, Salesforce and more.

Cisco says Cloud OnRamp for SaaS now supports any customer-developed, cloud-based applications as well as applications that work with Cisco’s Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) classification engine. Cisco routers and switches typically use NBAR to identify a dataflow by inspecting packets to set traffic flows. Once the applications are recognized, the network can invoke required services for that particular application, Cisco stated.

NBAR applications include Microsoft Dynamic CRM Application, Slack, Github, and Workday. Homegrown apps such as many retail point-of-sale products or others that are not standard applications recognized by NBAR are now supported as well, Cisco says.

In addition to the new cloud application support, Cisco has bolstered the cloud-based vAnalytics package that works to provide performance insights for the SD-WAN and its applications. For example, improved visibility and application-level telemetry help speed issue identification and resolution. The system can now also let customers better correlate telemetry and set performance benchmarks. 

The idea is to offer customers an improved, more graphical way to see and manage everything on the SD-WAN, including bandwidth usage, network traffic distribution across sites and circuits, and application behavior assessments, Cisco says.    

On the security side, Cisco has expanded its Layer-7 Application Health Check to support SD-WAN resources protected other unnamed third party platforms. Cisco SD-WAN currently supports its own Umbrella security and Zscaler health checks, which help customers ensure network tunnels are working properly and provide load balancing or failover support in case of problems.

The software also supports a new Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Data Policy Fallback feature that redirects and reestablishes secure connections in the event of a network problem or failure. Cisco says its SD-WAN supports Cisco Umbrella, Zscaler and tunnel connectivity to its IOS-XE platforms.

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