Silver Peak Funded for an 'Independent Future'

The software-defined WAN market is rapidly moving from early adopter to "early mainstream" stage, and early-to-market Silver Peak doesn't intend on getting left behind.

Such is the messaging from CEO David Hughes, who chatted with me on the heels of a $90 million investment, announced yesterday. "Now's the time to step on the gas," he told me.

Silver Peak, which offers the three-year-old Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN appliance, ranks among the top WAN edge providers in this market -- along with companies like Aryaka; Cisco, which extended its SD-WAN portfolio with the May 2017 acquisition of Viptela; and VMware, which jumped into the SD-WAN game with the November 2017 acquisition of another market leader, VeloCloud. IHS Markit, which pegged 2017 revenue for the SD-WAN appliances and control/management software market at $444 million, placed Silver Peak behind VeloCloud (prior to its acquisition) and Aryaka at the number three spot, with 12% of the 4Q17 market share, for example.

The $90 million infusion, from investor TCV, helps position Silver Peak for an independent future, said Hughes, fending off the idea that the company would follow in the acquisition footsteps of Viptela and VeloCloud. The funding will go toward expanding Silver Peak's sales and service organizations, as well as growing investments in engineering, R&D, and operations, he added.

In the three years since introducing Unity EdgeConnect, Silver Peak has seen enterprises broadening their thinking about how to get value out of SD-WAN technology. While early adopters focused on being able to use multiple paths and control the selection of which to use for what purpose, today's buyers are looking at SD-WAN technology as a way to build and run a WAN in an even more cost-effective and agile way, Hughes said.

What they're thinking is, "'How do I get away from, if I have 400 sites, having to configure 400 devices,'" he said. The answer is in business intent-based orchestration -- in essence, say it once, and make it happen, he added. And that orchestration must span across domains, including security.

Like others, Silver Peak is bringing security into its SD-WAN portfolio. Just earlier this month, it announced the addition of segmentation and security service capabilities for Unity EdgeConnect. With these, administrators can create secure zones for users, applications, and WAN services, as well as automate how application traffic moves across the LAN and WAN based on factors such as compliance requirements and business intent.

"Security and SD-WAN have to go hand in hand -- if you're deciding which applications are going direct connect and which are going to be daisy-chained to a firewall, they need to work together," as Damon Ennis, SVP of product at Silver Peak, told me at the time of that introduction.

Think about the future of SD-WAN this way, Hughes suggested: The "SD" in SD-WAN is going from software-defined, which is the model for today, to self-driving, where solutions delivered to the enterprise essentially let WANs run themselves.

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