SD-WAN was a foundation for enterprise edge and VNS, but early deployments were lacking….

Verizon VNS Recap

History lesson: about 18 months ago, Appledore profiled Verizon’s initial foray into Virtualized Network Services in our SD-WAN/Enterprise Edge coverage. Back then the aspiration was right, but it looked a lot like SDWAN + maybe a firewall, with many building blocks to be acquired and put in place. Along the way Verizon has addressed many of the shortcomings (or were they “opportunities”?). In particular they beefed up customer self-configuration to go along with self-monitoring in the VNS portal.

In our original coverage we called out the industry (not at all unique to Verizon) for a few gaps:

  • Lack of event/performance correlation between overlay and underlay – leaving valuable troubleshooting “cash on the table”
  • A low incidence of SDWAN edges deployed as multi-application (micro cloud) uCPE
  • A dearth of those virtual apps to accompany SDWAN edge and vFirewall
  • Few incidences of on-demand WAN underlay bandwidth (e.g.: burst capabilities)
  • Integration only to an SDWAN secured edge at public cloud – not *into* the public cloud infrastructure itself (therefore allowing orchestration or chaining of platform resources)

Now comes the VNS Application Edge.

Verizon’s VNS Enterprise Edge begins to Fulfill its Promise

Verizon’s Nov 6th announcement focused on the enterprise edge, but in reality delivered an evolving story about how Verizon aspires to, and will, deliver an end-to-end platform that includes Hybrid Cloud (core public cloud + uCPE edge) along with (in theory) flexible orchestration of WAN transport. The end result should be the ability to create service chains that include Verizon transport services, public cloud platforms, premises-edge uCPE-based “micro-cloud” platforms, workloads that run on those platforms, and end-to-end orchestration of chaining and security.

It’s worth differentiating between two classes of workloads.

  1. The first are Verizon-delivered VNFs, beginning with an SD-WAN edge itself, and the ability to add additional VNFs on that common uCPE box, automatically chained and secured. These typically run entirely on the uCPE, and are delivered by and characterized by Verizon (or another CSP).
  2. The second class are IT applications, with a focus on next generation applications that demand higher than typical throughput or lower than typical latency. It is anticipated that many of these apps will be architected in “tiers” with a cloud tier, an edge tier and of course the UE – possibly a robot, sensor or vehicle.

Both are interesting use cases.  The VNF use case allows Verizon (and its peers) to gradually increase its breadth of offerings, addressable revenue while at the same time delivering additional simplification and (as we show in our research stream), tighter and simplified security.

Market Demand Realities

The market for industrial IoT is, in Appledore’s opinion, real; and the need for solutions like VNS justified.  Yep, we’re fans.

Yet at the same time, we have to push back hard on many unjustified “gee whiz” prognostications that have become commonplace in the industry. Verizon set the stage for this announcement (citing Deloitte) with a chart showing the need for 10s of Gbps and ultra-low latency, along with example use cases including autonomous vehicles and AI/ML. Without delving into a 10,000-word blog post, we note that some of these cases will only come to fruition over the very long term (in which, as Keynes quipped, we are all dead) and others – such as ML/AI based on big data, are almost by definition non real-time. Readers who wish to have a full analysis of the timing and reality of this market can read our 5G /4IR report.


VNS is among the growing wave of examples where carriers are evolving their initial forays into virtualized enterprise services and integrating in edge support as a flagship effort.  Most of these began with SD-WAN and firewall, but are now beginning to show their true promise.

Appledore have long argued that CSPs must pay attention to and distinguish between two edges – the MEC and the “enterprise edge”; and that moreover the industry ought to view the SDWAN edge box location as a multi-application “micro edge cloud” that enables CSPs to deliver dynamic combinations of on-demand functionality.  In fact, we were frustrated by the chorus of “… but simple appliances are cheaper” that we heard throughout our initial research. This is being reversed and overcome. Good.

Grant Lenahan

Further Reading: