VMware on Wednesday announced the integration of VMware SD-WAN into the Azure Virtual WAN Hub, automatically connecting SD-WAN branches to the Microsoft Azure backbone.
With the combination, "you get the advantage of the performance of the last mile from our SD-WAN, and you get the performance of Microsoft's backbone," VMware SVP Sanjay Uppal said to ZDNet.
The integration is the latest piece of VMware's strong partnership with Microsoft, and it comes at a time when dispersed workforces are making WAN access more valuable. "All of your branches and campuses and everything will be very well connected together," Uppal explained.
When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year, VMware saw some significant, unexpected changes happening in its SD-WAN business, Uppal said.
"We deploy our edges in a number of enterprise locations, and each of those edges acts like a sensor, so it actually senses what's happening on the network," he explained. "We could see between the beginning of March and April what happened to networks around the world. It was actually amazing how the traffic patterns completely changed."
Networks came under significant pressure, he said, especially those connected to homes. Issues like bandwidth, latency, packet loss and jitter started growing.
"We expected that to happen -- the unexpected was how quickly it happened and to what level of severity," Uppal said. His team sped up its work on a set of features to make "that home office look like the branch office," with a focus on priorities like ease of use and privacy.
The shift to remote work increased demand for some of VMware's lowest-end SD-WAN devices, as well as higher-end devices used by professionals like radiologists. Meanwhile, supply chain issues "have required us to be very flexible in terms of where our components and everything comes from," Uppal said.
While demand grew for Work From Home solutions and from certain verticals like logistics, "certain verticals dropped off the face of the Earth," Uppal said -- that included hospitality and the airline industry.
"So, overall, I'd say it was a balance," Uppal said, touting SD-WAN's contributions to VMware's solid Q4 results.
For customers that need Work From Home solutions, VMware recently demonstrated the benefits of SD-WAN for Microsoft 365 users experiencing networking challenges like. With VMware SD-WAN, users experiencing problems like latency or packet loss can get a 5X to 10X improvement with Microsoft 365, Uppal said.
Last year, VMware began working with Microsoft to offer solutions for Azure Edge Zones and Azure Private Edge Zones. Edge Zones deliver Azure services and enable customers to seamlessly deploy and run Virtual Network Functions including VMware SD-WAN across Azure regions and Azure Edge Zones. VMware is the only Azure Edge Zones "public preview" SD-WAN partner.
VMware also works with Microsoft to deliver SD-WAN to customers in the healthcare and retail sectors.
"We have a set of ecosystem partners of which I would say Microsoft is right at the top," Uppal said.