The start of a new calendar year unfortunately doesn’t mean we can always start on a clean slate. The coronavirus continues to cast a long shadow into 2021, and for many organisations the immediate focus is on keeping their business afloat.
To help achieve this, businesses must focus on delivering new and better experiences for their customers, become more agile and reach new markets to compete in a globally connected – but socially distanced – world.
In an earlier blog on Adaptive Innovation, I noted that one of the few positive aspects to come out of 2020 has been the rapid acceleration in the delivery of digitisation programmes. Another is the embracing of new agile work practices which has driven efficiency improvements in a wide range of areas. From the digitisation of customer experience and delivery, to greater use of cloud to reduce costs of failure and barriers to innovation, to the way processing has shifted to edge – we’ve seen enormous change at scale.
A reliable, secure and flexible network is one of the primary enablers for this change. Consequently, many organisations have once again put network transformation at the top of their priority list, and are looking to solutions like software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to help tune their business network for peak performance.
How can SD-WAN help? We have identified four key benefits that SD-WAN delivers:
1. Improved application performance for a better end-user experience
SD-WAN provides policy-based and application-aware routing over any underlying connectivity technology, including MPLS (IPVPN), dedicated Internet access and broadband (fixed and mobile). This means that it automatically and intelligently selects the best path available for that specific application’s needs, relative to its prioritisation.
SD-WAN also includes various features to improve application performance over Internet connectivity. Whilst these don’t address all potential network performance issues – just like a road network the underlying network connectivity is still vitally important to the journey your traffic takes – it does make it more viable for lower-cost access technologies to address the ever-growing volume of branch traffic, much of which is destined for the Internet.
2. More efficient use of available bandwidth
As applications become more feature- and content-rich and, in parallel, enterprise workloads are migrated from private data centres to SaaS and IaaS/PaaS based hosting, organisations need to find cost-effective ways to increase bandwidth whilst still ensuring a good user experience.
SD-WAN automatically load-balances traffic across all active links into a site. This maximises the WAN bandwidth available to users, which means organisations can extract more value from secondary failover connections that might otherwise never get used – thereby helping to avoid as many frequent bandwidth upgrades.
3. Enhanced security
Security is an essential consideration when business-critical data traffic is delivered over shared networks like the public Internet.
SD-WAN technology incorporates strong encryption techniques and strict access controls to protect your WAN traffic, and to allow the Internet to be reliably used for most common enterprise applications.
With its central policy-based orchestration, SD-WAN can also help businesses to improve their security by making it easier to automatically implement policies consistently across all sites.
Increasingly, we are also seeing SD-WAN solutions being integrated into Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architectures. This brings together remote access, enterprise networking and identity-based controls, to simplify the management of user access to workloads regardless of where they are.
4. Greater visibility, control and agility
For businesses looking to reduce network complexity and achieve faster deployment, SD-WAN offers centralised automated orchestration. This allows changes to be more rapidly implemented, without the need to manually reconfigure each network device.
The central management portal also provides greater visibility of the application traffic flows, bandwidth usage, network performance and device health. This enables organisations to gain new insights into what is going on in their IT environment, which can help with problem resolution and support better planning.
SD-WAN can also help to support the faster deployment of new sites, with devices being well-suited to work with network technologies like broadband or mobile. They can automatically “call home” for their configuration as soon as they are connected, with minimal manual set-up required.
Optimising your networks
In these ways, SD-WAN improves the performance and agility of enterprise connectivity and can set your digitation strategy up for success.
Whilst SD-WAN offers a myriad of benefits if integrated and orchestrated properly, like any technology getting the implementation and management right has to be carefully planned.
That’s why investing in a managed SD-WAN service can reap significant rewards. Working with an experienced partner like Telstra, which can design, deploy and manage not only the overlying SD-WAN technology, but also the underlying network connectivity, can help to ensure the maximum benefit from SD-WAN is realised, whilst reducing the risk from many of the potential pitfalls along the way.
To understand where your business is in the SD-WAN journey, and how Telstra’s comprehensive managed SD-WAN services can support you in your growth, take our Adaptive Networks quiz here.
Are you ready to discover how SD-WAN can support your enterprise growth? Click here to book a no-obligation session with one of our technical experts now.