POSTED ON March, 12 2019

INNOVATE SD-WAN event in partnership with Virgin Media Business Ireland and Cisco

INNOVATE offer a Managed SD-WAN Connectivity Solution to provide rapid and resilient SD-WAN network connectivity and cloud solutions to business customers, in partnership with Virgin Media Business and Cisco.

Using their technical expertise in networking and cloud solutions, they provide a Managed SD-WAN Connectivity Solution with proactive monitoring to deliver real business value and allow businesses to focus on their core activities.

SD-WAN - A New Era In Networking


Last Thursday, INNOVATE, in partnership with Cisco and Virgin Media Business, hosted an event to showcase why SD-WAN is the new era of networking and how it helps companies manage network complexity, security and reduce network costs while improving application performance.

The event was held in the Virgin Media HD TV studio in Ballymount, Dublin and demonstrated how three industry-leading partners had come together to offer a managed Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solution and an entirely new way to manage and operate network and connectivity infrastructure.

Speaking at a specially arranged event to showcase the new solution in the Virgin Media HD TV studio in Ballymount, Dublin, Virgin Media Chief Executive Tony Hanway said SD-WAN is one of the most exciting and fastest growing network technologies today.

Together we bring 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. This solution offers businesses what they want, as well as what they need when it comes to business transformation.

Innovate CEO Jim Hughes explained that the SD WAN solution will reduce network costs and improve application performance for mid-size and larger enterprises.

This is achieved through a fundamental shift in the traditional wide area network (WAN) paradigm which traditionally saw all network traffic routed internally before connecting to the internet.

Using SD WAN, users throughout an organisation can connect securely and speedily to cloud-based infrastructure and software-as-a-service applications without the need to first go through the internal WAN.

“Unless you have a clear objective, you have no definition of winning.”

Organisations have to be clear about their objectives and strategy before moving to the new paradigm. Quoting from Alistair Campbell, former aide to UK prime minister Tony Blair, Hughes said: “Unless you have a clear objective, you have no definition of winning; unless you have a clear strategy, you have no chance of winning; and if all you have is tactics, you have no right to win.”

Taking up a similar theme, Gerard O’Neill of Amárach Research stepped back from the technology to look at the trends which will drive demand for it. “One rule applies”, he said. “People buy what they want so you must sell them what they need. Nobody buys a great product if it’s not what they want, even if it’s what they need. Inventing a great new product which saves people money is no good if what they want to do is save time.”

Tont Gerard and Jim 2

PICTURE – Tony Hanway, CEO, Virgin Media, Gerard O’Neill, Chairman, Amárach Research and Jim Hughes, CEO of Innovate pictured at the event held in Virgin Media Television HD Studio to showcase the networking capabilities of SD-WAN and explain why it is one of the most exciting and fastest growing network technologies today.

"People buy what they want so you must sell them what they need” – Gerard O’Neill, Amárach.


In this context, the three wants driving organisations’ demand for technology, according to O’Neill, are managing complexity, managing security, and managing flexibility.

“One of the biggest challenges for businesses right now is that they want to scale quickly but without significant capital investments”, he said.

“Managing complexity requires businesses to have access to real-time data and the systems that allow them to respond to the trends that their data reveals. They want to know that when opportunity knocks, they will be ready, willing and able to answer and that they won’t be left behind by more agile competitors who see the same opportunities.

“For many businesses, the solution lies in using cloud-based solutions to reduce the marginal cost of growth to a level that avoids expensive investments in fixed costs,” O’Neill said.

In the security realm, he pointed out that businesses want their employees to be more productive but doing so the wrong way can create enormous business risks. “One of the key trends now gathering momentum is the emergence of the virtual workforce: people working collaboratively in teams from different locations, including their homes”, he noted.

“The location of the ‘office’ or the ‘branch’ or even the ‘store’ is increasingly abstract.  Businesses want to grow while navigating avoidable risks, which means using technology to empower employees to drive future growth without risking their employers’ security.”

One of the greatest challenges facing businesses nowadays is how to increase productivity when the low hanging fruit from technology adoption is already taken, O’Neill continued added.

“This is why businesses are so enthusiastic about exploring the potential for the distributed production of goods, services and growth. This is exactly what networks have always done and always will and why growth-enhancing services like SD-WAN are so important to what every business wants: future growth.”

Enterprise Netwotk In The FutureTom Long, Head of Technical Strategy, Cisco set out how networking has changed, and the drivers for this new software-defined technology.

‘An Overlay network is a logical topology used to virtually connect devices, built on top of a simple physical Underlay network.’


‘An Overlay network often uses alternate forwarding attributes to provide additional services, not provided by the Underlay.’

 Cisco SD-WAN Solution

Tom provided the perfect analogy to explain what software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is all about. “Imagine you are using Google Maps to help you to go somewhere, and halfway there the map intelligently reroutes you because of a traffic jam or some obstacle up ahead so that you still manage to arrive on time.

“On a data or cloud network, SD-WAN dynamically reroutes traffic between multiple sites to help you avoid bottlenecks that could slow down the journey.”

According to Cisco, most organisations today are still operating off a network architecture that hasn’t changed in a decade or more. “They probably built an MPLS [multi-protocol label switching] network that today connects to their private data centre. Most companies are leveraging virtual private network [VPN] services that allow them to connect from anywhere into their data centre.

“In the data centre, you are hosting firewalls, services that prevent data leakage and defend against intrusion, and you are trying to ensure all of that is confined within that private network.

“But if you look at the world we all live in today, where 70pc of data traffic is traversing the internet, and because most users are accessing applications in the cloud – such as Office 365 or infrastructure hosted via public cloud IaaS via Azure – it requires a different type of network infrastructure.

“SD-WAN is extremely relevant because you are connecting the branch network directly to the internet, and you have that ability to intelligently and securely traverse the internet very quickly, avoid bottlenecks, and give a real end-user experience from a speed perspective.”

Tom Long explained the networking challenges of a world increasingly dependent upon the cloud mean that now is the ideal time for organisations to take a new look at their WAN architecture.

SD-WAN enables more secure, consistent and cost-effective enterprise connections to Manage complexity, security and reduce network costs while improving application performance.


Tom Long and his colleague Paul Hanna, Solutions Architect, Cisco gave a live demo using Cisco Meraki to show how quickly you can connect two sites and set-up an SD-WAN configuration to allow for fail-over. He then disconnected the connection, and we saw how quickly the failover occurred and how quickly the connection failed back when connected again.

Every CTO in the room knew it would take their engineer days to configure similar policies and it was widely noted that with the deployment of SD-WAN they could focus their IT resource on higher value projects for their company.

 Cisco SD-WAN

Annette Soraine, CCO, INNOVATE hosted a very informative Q& A session and along with the panel addressed specific questions from the audience.

Gary Daly from Cisco Meraki presented real-life customer stories detailing the challenges and outcomes from the implementation of SD-WAN.

He shared the following customer quotes:

“Having the portal as a service in the cloud is probably the thing that delivers most value to us… it makes the cost of ownership of that solution far lower than it would be with an in-house installed solution” , Large UK Retailer


“Cisco Meraki SD-WAN has allowed us grow and it has given us more visibility onto our networks. We could not have grown at this speed without Meraki. Meraki has been easy to work with and support is great.” Ireland / UK Hotel Group


“It will pay for itself in 6 months and that was all from the POC”  Irish Food Processing Manufacturer with distributed sites


Participants learnt that INNOVATE could support them on how to build a business case for SD-WAN for their organisation. There was great interest in the offer by INNOVATE to work with them on a proof of concept (POC) supported by Cisco Meraki, and further details are available from


SD-WAN: The Missing Ingredient

See some pictures from the event below.

 Jim Hughes and Enda Cahill INNOVATE - The IT Solutions People

Tony Hanway Virgin Media Jim Hughes and Enda Cahill INNOVATE - The IT Solutions People
Tom Long Cisco Live SD-WAN Demo
Paul Farrell Virgin Media Annette Soraine and Jim Hughes INNOVATE Tom Long Cisco
John Conlon and Rod McCarthy Exertis Ireland and Tom Long CiscoSD-WAN Live Demo Setup with Tom Long Cisco


Managed Intelligent Connectivity Solution - Cisco SD-WAN

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