Cisco and Amazon Web Services deepen their embrace across SD-WAN, data centers and cloud

Amazon Web Services and Cisco have taken their partnership to another level with a raft of announcements at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Among the announcements, Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) technology for the cloud, which is called "ACI Anywhere," will be available on AWS Outposts. Back in January at Cisco Live in Barcelona, Cisco announced that ACI had extended its reach into Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure's public clouds.

RELATED: Cisco takes ACI to the cloud with AWS and Microsoft Azure

"Now we are extending this solution to fully support AWS Outposts," said Cisco's Sachin Gupta, senior vice president, product management for Cisco Intent-Based Networking Group, in a blog post. "Our customers can use Cisco’s policy-driven automation controller, ACI, to translate their business intent and policy models into consistent on-premise and cloud-native constructs that are deployed across AWS applications.

"Using a common policy model drastically reduces complexity (and cost), while allowing us to provide a single management console to configure, monitor, and operate multiple environments spread across data centers and AWS."

On the SD-WAN front, Cisco's Viptela-based SD-WAN has been integrated with AWS Transit Gateway, which will allow IT teams to automate and manage connectivity from branch locations to the AWS cloud using Cisco's vManage SD-WAN controller.

"Network operators will be able to create end-to-end connectivity between users and cloud-hosted apps, while applying network segmentation and security policies to traffic flows," Gupta said. "The system will also enable policy exchange between Cisco SD-WAN Controller and AWS Transit Gateway, which will allow IT teams to implement consistent network and data security rules.

"This solution will further improve application availability when using the AWS global backbone. And with this integration, IT teams will be able to make changes to all connectivity settings in minutes."

Cisco and VMware have both been hard at work integrating Viptela and VMware's VeloCloud SD-WAN technologies into their respective portfolios. VeloCloud is creating an end-to-end fabric by integrating VeloCloud into its NSX portfolio while Cisco appears to be blending ACI with its Viptela and Meraki SD-WAN solutions.

RELATED: Cisco notches an SD-WAN partnership with Microsoft

Cloud service providers have realized the importance of bundling SD-WAN solutions with their other cloud-based services. Last month, Microsoft announced it was integrating Cisco's Viptela-based SD-WAN service with its Azure Virtual WAN and Office 365, which allows customers to extend their wide area networks (WANs) into Microsoft Azure Cloud.

RELATED: SD-WAN vendor Silver Peak deepens its relationship with Microsoft's cloud services

While Citrix was among the first SD-WAN vendors to announce a cloud-based partnership with Microsoft last year, VMware/VeloCloud and Microsoft's Azure also announced an SD-WAN partnership in 2018. Also in November, Silver Peak announced it had integrated its SD-WAN technologies across Microsoft's Azure Virtual WAN service and Office 365.

The differentiating factor in all of those SD-WAN integrations with cloud service providers is they are not Cisco, which has a large, loyal installed customer base due to its routers. Cisco has been making the transition to being a more software, subscription-based company, but pricing could be an issue.

“Tightening integration between AWS and ACI is a great move, but with the widening range of SD-WAN and cloud integrations taking place, there is a lot of competition," said Scott Raynovich, the founder and chief analyst of Futuriom. "Cisco is going to have to drive more sensible pricing, because we are hearing from the market that Cisco’s software licensing and hardware packages are considered expensive.”

For data centers, Gupta said Cisco was working with AWS across several areas.

"For Cisco security customers who already enjoy the benefits of unified security policy across AWS and on-premise data centers, AWS’ new VPC Ingress Routing dramatically improves the granularity with which these security policies can be applied to cloud workloads," Gupta said. "It makes the intrusion prevention, malware detection, and content security delivered by Cisco’s next-generation firewall more precise and effective.

"We are adding AWS Security Group management to Cisco Cloud Defense Orchestrator (CDO). We are also extending the existing ACI policy-based automation for services insertion to the AWS cloud and AWS VPC Ingress Routing. These integrations will make deploying services in a hybrid cloud easier than ever."

All three of the integrations between Cisco and AWS are slated for availability in the first half of next year.