POSTED ON January, 28 2019

SD-WAN the missing ingredient for managing network complexity Blog ImageHave you ever noticed how Google Maps often changes course mid-journey after it’s figured out a faster way to get to you where you’re going? Now imagine the possibilities if your network could do the same: dynamically rerouting traffic between multiple sites and avoiding bottlenecks that could slow the journey for everyone on the same road. That’s what a Software-Defined Wide Area Network can deliver. In this blog, we’re going to take a closer look at SD-WAN and show how IT managers can apply the technology to some familiar business scenarios.

SD-WAN is an entirely new way to manage and operate network and connectivity infrastructure. As the name suggests, it uses software as a layer on top of existing physical infrastructure, which makes it faster to roll out than hardware or expensive leased lines. This also overcomes the difficulty with managing traditional WAN infrastructures which are often fragmented, using different connectivity options with varying bandwidth capacities.

SD-WAN is one of the most exciting and fastest‑growing network technologies today. In 2018, less than 30 per cent of WAN edge infrastructure refreshes used SD-WAN. By 2021, Gartner estimates that this will grow to more than 65 per cent. That’s a 59 per cent compound annual growth rate. As you’ll see from the sample use cases below, there are many compelling reasons why SD-WAN adoption is growing so fast.

“Why is the internet slow?” 

One of the great frustrations of working life is when the internet connection that we depend on to do our jobs doesn’t perform as it’s supposed to. There are many possible root causes: it might be an unexpected spike in bandwidth use. Often, it’s the result of previous investment decisions; the connectivity at a branch site was installed years ago, before there needed to be guaranteed levels of service. Since then, internet use has rocketed and the site can’t provide assured service when too many people are online at once. This results in lower productivity because staff can’t access the applications they need to do their jobs.

SD-WAN can help: it intelligently routes traffic along the best available path using IPSec tunnelling, ensuring optimum usage of the available bandwidth. Administrators can quickly define alternative traffic paths depending on changing network conditions. They can also set up automated routing policies. Think of it like handing over the wheel to SD-WAN, letting it steer for you. It automatically finds the best pathways for all your network traffic, and it makes sure to give priority to the most important traffic on the network. The end result in either case is a better user experience.

“We’re looking to move more applications to the cloud” 

Growing numbers of businesses are looking to move their business applications to the cloud or increase their use of software-as-a-service delivery models. From the IT team’s perspective, managing a mix of on-premise and cloud applications can be a real headache. SD-WAN works to solve that pain point by providing a single platform that gives an end‑to‑end view of the communications network. This way, they can see application performance and quality of experience for every application in the business, whether it’s on-premise or in the cloud.

“We need to adapt to changing business demands and take advantage of new technology trends” 

Growing numbers of companies are looking to digital technology to help them maintain a competitive advantage, so their systems and networks need to be agile enough to enable that evolution. The software-defined architecture of SD-WAN lets you easily support new types of applications and services, scaling to meet demand and always using only the necessary resources. Because it’s software, it’s just a matter of a few clicks to set up new networks. So, as new technologies and new ways of doing business emerge, IT managers and their teams are no longer on the back foot, reacting to requests from the business. They’re always poised and ready to deliver when the business needs rapid change.

“We need to gain greater visibility into network performance” 

If IT wants to move away from firefighting mode and become a business enabler, it’s essential to be able to predict and prevent issues at the earliest possible stage. To do this, IT needs complete, real-time visibility into network and application performance. But that can be a struggle with several networks based across numerous locations. With SD-WAN, IT managers gain complete, real-time visibility into everything from a single point of control. They can quickly see what applications are demanding the most bandwidth. SD-WAN’s optimised traffic routing can also automatically make adjustments to ensure high performance.

“We need to find a simpler, more efficient way to handle voice, video and data networks” 

Now’s your chance to remove complexity from your network. That starts by consolidating your view of voice and data traffic onto a central platform. SD-WAN simplifies the way you run your network. It provides complete transparency into performance, which means you stay ahead of any potential issues. When it’s delivered as a managed service, a simple monthly pricing model means there are no surprises when it comes to costs.

“Cybersecurity is a serious business risk for us”

Security concerns have moved out of the server room and into the boardroom, and IT has to adapt. That’s especially crucial when many branches and remote sites have direct internet access, and business-critical traffic is sent to public cloud services. SD-WAN can help to protect the network against threats by enforcing security policies across the entire network, avoiding a scenario where a branch location might be a weak link that makes the business vulnerable.

“IT needs to make its budget go further”

Business is constantly challenging IT managers and their teams to do more with less. Deploying SD-WAN allows you to lower the cost of bandwidth because it lets you move traffic to public internet lines rather than having to buy expensive leased lines. It also minimises your upfront investment for a network solution that’s tailored to your business environment. With SD-WAN, it’s easier to design the solution that will work best for your application performance needs and manage your budget. By opting for a managed network-as-a-service, transparent monthly payments mean it is far easier to gain visibility into – and control over – network costs. A fully managed SD-WAN solution will support your IT team and free up a valuable resource.

The Innovate approach

Innovate’s managed ICT solutions bring together an enterprise-grade SD-WAN network connectivity solution, powered by Cisco, with rapid and resilient connectivity by Virgin Media Business and Innovate’s technical expertise to enable more secure, consistent and cost-effective enterprise connections. Through this partnership, Innovate provides its business customers with rapid and resilient SD-WAN network connectivity and cloud solutions to support their digital transformation and unlock business growth.

On 7 March, Innovate and its partners Virgin Media Business and Cisco hosted a free event to showcase SD-WAN. A key theme emerging from our event SD-WAN A New Era in Networking in Virgin Media Television HD Studio was why growth-enhancing services like SD-WAN are so important to what every business wants: future growth. One of the biggest challenges for businesses right now is that they want to scale quickly but without significant capital investments.

If you would like the opportunity to explore how together we can help your organisation, email ask@innovate.ie and one of the team will be in touch.

SD-WAN Will Be Key To Navigating The Digital Transformation Journey

Managed Intelligent Connectivity Solution - Cisco SD-WAN

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