POSTED ON January, 21 2019

A New Era in Networking with SD-WAN Blog Image

Cisco’s Tom Long explains why a new managed SD-WAN service is hugely significant in the face of the two biggest game changers since the introduction of the internet the cloud and enterprise mobility.

Tom Long CiscoTom Long, Head of Technical Strategy, Cisco Ireland

My first job, way back in 1992 was as a network engineer working with a leading national bank. At that time, all enterprise applications were hosted within private data centres. These applications could only be accessed from locations that were owned by the bank. The enterprise network boundary was well defined, and the Wide Area Network (WAN) was built using legacy protocols (mainly IBM SNA) over private leased lines and frame relay.

During my five-year tenure with the bank, I witnessed the type of innovation that drove the bank forward. Key advancements included connecting the bank to ‘The Internet’. Within the private corporate network, IP (Internet Protocol) became the dominant protocol.

For the next decade or so, I have to admit that although network throughput continued to increase, there weren’t any major changes in our approach to WAN. Then, all organisations irrespective of market segment or company size were faced with two major game changers: cloud computing and enterprise mobility.

The Cloud

Discussions on how cloud computing has transformed technology are well documented. For this blog, I will focus on the effects of that trend. Suffice to say that multiple critical business applications now reside outside the corporate private data centre.

Enterprise Mobility

Organisations and employees alike benefit from the ability to work (by 'work' I mean, access critical business applications) without having to be in a physical corporate location. Employees can now work from home, hotels, airports and moving transport.

Unsurprisingly these two trends have had a major impact on how traffic is traversing the enterprise network. We now need to reinvent how we design, build, secure and operate networks. Previous approaches to networking and connectivity are becoming outdated and do not meet the demands of modern enterprises that increasingly require improved agility, flexibility, security and operational cost models.

Under a new partnership, INNOVATE, have generated a very compelling offer for the Irish market. It is a cost-effective managed solution based on a unique collaboration between INNOVATE, Virgin Media Business and Cisco Systems. Harnessing the rapid and resilient connectivity of Virgin Media Business, with superior network connectivity powered by Cisco and supported by the expertise of INNOVATE’s technical team, businesses can be assured of a more secure and efficient connection regardless of company size.

The solution is called Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN).

SD-WAN is a network solution whereby central intelligence and programmability is used to operate a secure and highly efficient network. The components of an SD-WAN solution include:

1) Physical or virtual CPE (Customer Premises Equipment)

2) A Transport Network (aka the underlay)

3) Secure and Intelligent Connections (aka the overlay)

3) The Brains (aka the central controller)

Commenting on the unique collaboration, Jim Hughes, CEO INNOVATE added, “This partnership with Virgin Media Business and Cisco uniquely positions INNOVATE in the market to provide rapid and resilient SD-WAN network connectivity and cloud solutions to business customers to support their digital transformation. Together we are transforming technology to unlock their business growth.”

 Managed Intelligent Connectivity Solution - Cisco SD-WAN

I am Tom Long, living in Dublin and working for Cisco Systems as Head of Technical Strategy for Cisco Ireland. I have a keen interest in technology, a curiosity that began with the purchase of a Commodore VIC-20 at the tender age of 11. 
In 1992, Tom Long received a 1st class honours degree in Telecommunications from Trinity College Dublin. For the past 23 years Tom has worked in the telecoms industry holding positions within enterprise companies, systems integrators and most recently the vendor community.  Since joining Cisco in 2004, Tom worked with local and global Service Providers in helping them to be successful in an ever increasingly challenging environment. In 2013 he assumed a new role as the Head of Technical Strategy for the Cisco sales operation in Ireland. 
Currently, Tom spends his weekends ferrying his 3 young children from GAA, to soccer, to karate, to swimming, to GAA in some kind of endless loop and he loves it. 

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