​​Cisco SD-WAN vs. VMware SD-WAN: Comparison, Ratings, & Use Cases

Networking leader Cisco and virtualization leader VMware offer two of the top software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions in the world.  SD-WANs ease the burden on network administrators by allowing them to apply policies and changes remotely.

Enterprise SD-WAN buyers will benefit from both solutions. Cisco already holds a corner of the enterprise networking hardware market, setting up businesses that already use Cisco routers and switches to make the transition to SD-WAN. VMware’s secure access service edge (SASE) platform includes its SD-WAN, which has security features, such as firewalls, and a dynamic optimization solution for applications. 

See below to compare Cisco’s and VMware’s SD-WAN solutions and decide which one is the right choice for your company: 

Cisco SD-WAN vs. VMware SD-WAN

Cisco vs. VMware: Portfolio

Cisco logo.Cisco offers clients five deployment platform choices, including security, wireless WAN, and virtual platforms. Through an integration with network performance monitoring vendor ThousandEyes, Cisco customers can view application traffic. Cisco customers are also able to configure security for their direct internet access (DIA), a technology for remote locations that allows the traffic to go directly to the internet rather than being routed through a data center.  

VMware logo.VMware offers dynamic multipath optimization (DMO) for edge networks, which includes real-time monitoring, link remediation, fail over, and packet steering. DMO also makes customizable policies available to businesses, so they can prioritize their critical applications. Another VMware highlight is Edge Network Intelligence, an artificial intelligence (AI) solution for IT operations. It’s focused on edge users and Internet of Things (IoT) maintenance.

  Cisco SD-WAN VMware SD-WAN
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Also read: Best Network Monitoring Tools

Cisco vs. VMware: Partners

Both Cisco and VMware have a variety of strategic partners in storage and managed services. Cisco offers partnerships with solution partners, learning partners, and digital solutions integrators. 

Cisco also offers multiple options for partner types — for example, consultants, hardware vendors, and customer experience (CX) companies. Partner use cases include enterprise routing, network architecture solutions, digital transformation, and customer experience services. 

VMware has five different categories of strategic partners: global partners; technology partners and independent software vendors (ISVs); global system integrators (GSIs) and advisory; hyperscalers (public cloud storage providers); and managed security and incident response. 

VMware receives an edge in specialization, because its partner program is focused on helping customers make the transition to multicloud and because so many of its strategic partners are major storage providers. 

Both Cisco and VMware have a wide selection of partners, including ones in many smaller countries; Cisco in particular has partners in many smaller nations, including ones that VMware doesn’t have. Cisco receives the edge in this category because of its widespread global partner availability.

  Cisco SD-WAN VMware SD-WAN
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Overall ✅ 

Also read: Top Storage as a Service Providers

Cisco vs. VMware: Use cases

Cisco’s SD-WAN has five major use cases: multicloud access, application optimization, secure automated SD-WAN, direct internet access, and branch security. Cisco cites 14 major customer industries, including insurance, mining, and utilities, as its target sectors. 

Before it deployed SD-WAN, Johnsonville, an American sausage processing company, was having serious service slowdowns, including equipment failures, and had to fix its existing Cisco technology in person. According to IT operations employee Anthony Wild, it was difficult to know how to prioritize SaaS applications. “For zero CAPEX, we enabled Cisco SD-WAN on our existing network infrastructure,” he says. 

Because Johnsonville already had Cisco hardware for its traditional WAN, it was able to deploy the SD-WAN quickly. 

“We eliminated operational silos,” Wild says. “And we’ve shuttered our MPLS service in favor of basic and business internet.”

VMware promotes five major customer industries: health care, financial, retail, construction, and service; the many customer case studies offered by VMware fall into one of those categories. Like Cisco, VMware cites five SD-WAN use cases. 

One customer notes that VMware SD-WAN helped his business maintain a reliable network. “Northgate needed to ensure continuous network uptime, which is critical when running a business that is transaction-based,” said Harrison Lewis, CIO at Northgate Markets. “VMware SD-WAN was able to proactively manage outages and reduce our expenses, all while maximizing bandwidth and providing high availability.”  

Availability is critical for ensuring that resources are working and that even if they go down, a software-directed replacement can route applications to an operating segment of the network.

  Cisco SD-WAN VMware SD-WAN 
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Also read: SD-WAN is Important for an AI and IoT Future

Cisco vs. VMware: Ratings

The following table presents ratings, all calculated from customer reviews, from several top technology review sites. Both solutions receive good customer ratings; VMware’s are higher overall for the three review sites sampled.  

  Cisco SD-WAN VMware SD-WAN 
G2 4.2 / 5 stars 4.7 / 5 stars (still listed as Velocloud on G2)
Gartner Peer Insights 4.7 / 5 stars  4.6 / 5 stars 
Peerspot 4.0 / 5 stars 4.1 / 5 stars 
Overall  

Cisco vs. VMware: Recognition

Both Cisco and VMware are leaders in the Gartner “Magic Quadrant” for WAN edge infrastructure in 2021. Gartner places VMware both higher (for ability to execute) and farther right (for completeness of vision) than Cisco. In 2020, Cisco’s SASE platform, to which its SD-WAN solution belongs, was the winner of CRN Tech Innovators award as well. 

VMware has been awarded multiple honors: 

  • A 2020 Unified Communications Excellence Award from Internet Telephony, offered by TMC
  • A CRN 2021 Tech Innovator award 
  • 2021 Cloud Computing Product of the Year award from TMC/Cloud Computing Magazine
  • Gold medal at the 2022 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards for VMware SASE 
  Cisco SD-WAN  VMware SD-WAN
Volume  
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Significance  
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Overall

Cisco and VMware are highly competitive SD-WAN vendors — two of the best in the world. In this review, VMware receives the slight edge, because its partnerships are more tailored to enterprise storage companies, and it has received higher customer ratings and more industry recognition in recent years. 

  Cisco SD-WAN  VMware SD-WAN
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Both Cisco and VMware are leaders in software-defined networking (SDN) and will provide your enterprise with a thorough portfolio of networking features, multiple deployment options, and the opportunity to partner with industry leaders. 

Read next: Best Software-Defined Storage Companies 

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for Enterprise Mobile Today, Webopedia.com, and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

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