Versa FlexVNF Review

Excellent integration capabilities, good UI and offers great security features

What is our primary use case?

We mostly implement this product for our clients.

What is most valuable?

There are many great aspects to the product. 

It's flexible. It's possible to have it on a universal CPE. The CPE is a small server or device that can be installed on the client's premises which the FlexVNF software can be installed onto. It doesn't have to be a vendor-specific CPE. This can help users reduce costs. Other solutions don't offer such flexibility.

One of the interesting things about the solution, which is not an easy feat, is that they offer a multi-tenancy solution at the CPE level.

They also allow for the integration of their solution as a provider with other security vendors, like Fortinet, Palo Alto, and Forcepoint. With other vendors, they stick with their own security appliances or images. This solution, however, really does try to integrate with everything.

In terms of support, they are very focused on SD-Wan technology. They are not working on multiple technologies. This ensures your business is very focused. It allows you to be very focused on your support and ensures your level of support will be very high. The customers will be satisfied with the results. 

The development is fast because they are only focused on one direction. Of course, SD-WAN not only means that you are optimizing the routing and the speed of the internet but also it allows you to optimize the security. Users can have better, more advanced security features. 

They are focusing on integrating their security features right now. They are growing quickly in this direction. That means they're giving a lot of attention to the security within the product. It's making it a more complete product without forcing you to just use Versa.

Overall, it's nice and very user friendly. That's what makes it so successful. They give you complicated features but with a very simple user interface, and that's been a big success for them.

What needs improvement?

The support needs to be improved. 

The interface does still need enhancements to make it even easier to operate in the future. They have complicated policies that need to be applied.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using the solution for about one and a half years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If the setup is done properly, the solution is quite stable. There's no need to worry about bugs and glitches. It doesn't crash.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is easy to scale. The solution has considered various roadmaps and focused on future growth for organizations. Some features may not be active just yet, however, they are in the roadmap.  They are looking at, for example, delivering Ethernet over two or three layers, over the internet, which is very interesting and is, in my opinion, revolutionary.

The solution benefits huge companies, more so than smaller ones. Currently, various product features are capable of fulfilling any big enterprise requirements. They are trying to get the certifications from international security communities like Gardner. Their focus is more so on the larger scale organizations and they are trying to compete with companies like Cisco, Palo Alto, etc. Since it is meant for bigger companies, it can get pretty big itself.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their support is okay, but they need to grow it out faster. They need a better mechanism for getting quick responses to clients and to hire more people on the support level. The gold standard is Cisco, and they should try to be more like that. 

They have a very focused product and because of that, they need a very focused support staff. They should have different people who are specialized on different aspects. They don't have to spend a lot of money to do this, they just need to ensure they have the right people in place to answer questions.

It seems a bit unfair to judge them in totality, however, as I just had one instance with them so far. 

How was the initial setup?

The solution's initial setup is complex in that it's not plug-and-play. You won't face zero-touch provisioning with this solution. Instead, there will be a staging process. It requires certain commands and you need to run it on Linux or Unix.

The solution has some issues with staging, and, if you compare it to other products, you'll see other vendors are much more straightforward. Zillow Clouds and Meraki are two good examples of a straightforward setup.

For myself, I have a technical background. These things are interesting for me, and I'm happy to do it, but on the commercial side of things, the customers don't really want to deal with difficult setups. Usually, however, it's the partner that provisions for the client, so the client never has to really deal with these issues. If you are a partner or a supplier, you'll end up doing this part yourselves. So, for those that know the product, it can be considered straightforward.

After that, users will enjoy a lot of features. 

It only takes about one hour to deploy the solution. I handled the POC myself and I've done some extensive training. I didn't feel comfortable in staging Versa devices. This was a problem. For comparison, if you would like to stage a VeloCloud device, it may take from you 10 minutes, whereas Versa could take about an hour.

If you are facing complications, you need to spend time understanding them before doing the provisioning. It will take some effort to understand the staging process, but it's worth it to take a step back. 

What about the implementation team?

I handled the POC myself and I've done some extensive training, so I was able to handle all the provisioning and staging. We found we struggled a bit with our engineers figuring out how to write everything correctly. Unlike other deployments where it's a very straightforward couple of clicks, if you make a mistake in provisioning there is a receipt required, and you need to call the engineer from your Versa vendor to help troubleshoot problems.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

In the end, it's not only about cost. A lot of big enterprises don't care about the cost. They care about having a single point of contact to take care of their security and internet routing optimization. Having one support ultimately reduces costs, as there would only be one maintenance contract and one device.  

What other advice do I have?

We have a lifetime implementation. We're using the latest version of the solution.

It's a good product for high-end and large enterprises, but smaller enterprises might not be a good fit.

I'd just advise that especially surrounding the initial setup, a new company needs to ensure they have the right support in place. Companies need to make sure their SLA's are very clear so they can get the support they need from the outset and into the future. Compare companies and be clear about the requirements and you will have an easier time.

I'd rate the solution eight out of ten. I'd give it full marks, however, I do believe that they can continue to improve on the existing product in various ways. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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